This year a group from Srebrenica travelled to the Netherlands to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. Ramiza lost her husband, father, brother, grandfather, three uncles; Muška lost two children, a husband, father-in-law, brother-in-law, six nephews, an uncle; Nura lost her underage son, husband, father-in-law and sixteen family members; Fatima lost her three children…
They visit the Westerbork Memorial Center.
As part of the commemoration, the organizer asks them, the way they do it there, to read out the names of the victims and their age.
The women take the list of names and stumble over the words:
Ina Speer, zeven jaar
Isaac Speer, achtenzeventig jaar
Isaac van Speer, zeventien jaar
Isaac van Speer, vier jaar
Isaac Elias van Speer, drieendertig jaar
Isaac van Speer, achtendertig jaar
Isaac van Speer, dertig jaar
Isaac Abraham van Speer, tweeendertig jaar
Izaac Speer, drieen-zeventig jaar
Jakob Speer, dertig jaar
They have trouble with the pronunciation. Their tongues slip to the side, they cannot put two letters together.
Muška starts laughing secretly.
The women, some of whom have only finished grade school, who before the war had never travelled beyond their village, who do not speak any foreign language, read the Dutch and to them it looks like a macadam road full of ruts just waiting to trip them up. They break out in a sweat. The situation is somber, tense, but the words are ticklish.
They try to stifle the laughter that is shaking their bodies. They do not dare to look at one another or they will explode. They are embarrassed. In each name they see their own child, husband, father, brother. But they are almost crying with laughter. They try for it not to show in their voices, but the laughter keeps breaking through.
2 May 2015