To the editor:

 If it is not too late, please talk with a European who lived through World War II and ask about their daily menu.

In the 1970s, I met a man from the Netherlands who was not yet a teenager in 1945. We had a few discussions about his experiences, and then we focused on what he and his family ate. Pick a day of the week. Any day. Pick a daily meal. Any meal. On the menu was rutabagas, turnips, potatoes and onions. They could have them boiled, baked, or even fried if they could find some fat.

From the invasion on May, 10, 1940, until liberation on May 5, 1945, and for a while after, that was what they had to eat. Radios were forbidden. Listening to one could mean being killed. TV did not exist for most people, even in New York City. No internet. No email. No videos. No group meetings online.

What did exist in their daily lives was the chance of being pulled out of a restaurant, a bar, a grocery store, or picked at random from the street and shot. That did not happen a lot every day, but it happened. If you can find some civilian survivors, talk with them. If you can find someone tattooed with a number who will talk, please listen. We have gone through four scary months, but our grocery stores have food, service stations have fuel for our cars and trucks, and we can go out in public if we wear a mask.

How hard is your life?

Arthur Thomas


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