Moshe Flinker was sixteen years-old when he began keeping his diary. As a Dutch citizen, he had already been living under German occupation for over two years, but by the end of 1942 the danger facing Jews was increasing. Moshe and his family believed that they would soon be deported eastward, so they began to look for a way to escape from Holland. Moshe’s father found a way to get his family across the border into Belgium where he hoped they would be safer. At first, no one knew that they were Jews. Sometimes Moshe even dared to go onto the street without his Jewish star. This was not a secret they could keep for long, though. Soon they were living with all of the restrictions that applied to Jews back in Holland.
Moshe hated the fact that he couldn’t go to school or work. One of the reasons he started writing was to stave off idleness. His first diary entry on November 24th told the story of his family’s escape to Brussels and the circumstances of life in this new city. By the time he made his next entry two days later though, his attention had begun to turn to deeper thoughts. The main theme of Moshe’s diary was his attempt to understand the reasons why Jews were experiencing so much suffering and persecution. He was a deeply religious young man and sought an explanation that would fit his experiences into a larger, purposeful plan that was in the hands of the Lord. He struggled with this concept and was unable to find a meaningful resolution. He wrote, “We are in a very bad situation. Our sufferings have by far exceeded our wrongdoings. What other purpose could the Lord have in allowing such things to befall us? I feel certain that further troubles will not bring any Jew back to the paths of righteousness… and indeed what can God intend by all these calamities that are happening to us in this terrible period?”
Moshe was not alone in his mental and emotional anguish. Many people, then and now, have trouble with the idea that suffering isn’t always driven by a redemptive purpose. In the case of the Holocaust, the main cause of the persecution appears to have been the unjustifiable prejudice, hatred and false ideology of the Nazis.
Excerpts from Moshe Flinker’s diary have been published in a book entitled, by Alexandra Zapruder.
You may read more about how the Holocaust affected Jews in Belgium here.
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