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Historical novel, 2019
The Netherlands 1
Atlantic Ocean 43
In hiding 72
During their many visits to South American port cities, seafarers had gained a lot of experience with German-speaking inhabitants. In the officer’s mess, the chief engineer, who had sailed on the Rotterdam – South America Line for almost ten years, was not very fond of some of them:
‘Those aren’t very easy folks, Germans in Argentina. Last year I was in Buenos Aires, visiting a colleague of an Argentine shipping company, who had invited me for dinner.
Anyway, I went there, and noticed a portrait of Adolf hanging on the wall, right above the dresser in the living room. Those people were of German origin, but born in Argentina. And still National Socialists, so they had a strong dislike for Jews.’
The first engineer mashed a potato in a puddle of gravy on his plate. ‘Thousands of Nazis fled to Argentina after the war. Metz & Van Driessen also transported some of them there.’
‘Did you have a nice evening, Chief?’ the first mate inquired amused, while he was rolling a cigarette.
‘I certainly did, and I got to enjoy good food as well. But not over there. I tried to explain to that guy that his Austrian had plundered our country, and that a few Jewish fellow citizens were missing after the war, but he didn’t care. “Ich bin ein Jude!” I tried, raising my voice. With that Kennedy speech in Berlin in mind, you know?’
‘Uh huh,’ De Jongh confirmed.
‘But that didn’t impress my professional brother and his wife. I thanked them kindly for the aperitif and on the rebound I went looking for a kosher restaurant on the Viamonte’.