ROTTERDAM, The Netherlands — Our friends in The Netherlands took great pains to show us communities that were spared the ravages of world war.
Indeed, the nation is a gorgeous collection of Renaissance architecture. Its neighborhoods charm the socks of those who see them for the first time.
Amsterdam is mostly water and a canal cruise is an absolute must for any visitor. My wife and I took one on a warm sunny day in that beautiful city.
Rotterdam is a magnificent city, too. But for a different reason.
It was essentially rebuilt after World War II. Rotterdam was not spared the savage consequences of armed conflict.
The Nazi air force, the Luftwaffe, bombed central Rotterdam into oblivion as it fought to conquer The Netherlands. Adolf Hitler’s high command expected the conquest to take 24 hours; it took the Nazis five days to subdue the Dutch, who put up extraordinary resistance against the invaders.
What emerged from the rubble is a city of gleaming skyscrapers ringing one of the world’s largest and busiest harbors.
The picture attached to this brief post is of one of those modern marvels. My wife and I, along with our friend Coen, took a high-speed tour of the harbor. We saw hundreds of ships in port, anchored in the harbor waiting to dock and we saw one ship that had been hoisted out of the water, sitting in a drydock.
Yes, some neighborhoods survived the aerial onslaught that devastated Rotterdam. Our journey to Europe that enabled us to see Old World charm also exposed to us a country that was able to rebuild a great city.
The Dutch did that in Rotterdam.