Des de Moor

Grandmother was a Hero Click here to visit the Downloads page for an MP3 file of this song. MP3 available
Water of Europe Water of Europe
One of 12 new English chansons and three covers on this 1999 solo album.
More details.
Des de Moor
voice, acoustic guitar
Julia Doyle
double bass
David Harrod
John Piper

This song is about my own grandmother, Liesbeth de Moor-Zumper (1907-93), who, just as the song tells it, was born in Germany but ended up resisting the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II. I wrote the words very quickly early in 1997, and the music came soon after.
Grandmother was a monster:
Each year I'd dread her stare
And her nagging finger wagging
When they dragged me over there
From Harwich to the Hoek
And then three sickly car seat hours
With my mother and her headaches
And my father and his glowers.

But Grandmother was a hero.
In the end I heard the news:
Righteous among the Gentiles
And a rescuer of Jews.
She didn't have much wit or grace
Nor brains in large amounts
But Grandmother was a human
And being human counts.

Grandmother was from Dresden,
Long gone by that awful night
That the china ran in molten streams
As the city caught alight.
She'd quit it for a Dutchman
Who first seemed so bright and kind:
How could she know that history
Was following behind?

But Grandmother was a hero,
A socialist by creed
And Grandfather was a communist
And both had human needs
And they would have got divorced
But put their differences aside
In those starving wartime winters
And with people still to hide.

Then Grandma was a poor old lady
And every year or so I'd call
And she'd reminisce in German-
She still spoke that best of all.
Grandmother died one Autumn.
The funeral was fast
And over her we said no prayers,
An atheist to the last.

Grandmother was a hero:
Just think how it must have been
As a hausfrau in poor Holland
When the Wehrmacht goose-stepped in
With a husband that you hate
But there is nothing you can do:
It's an emergency situation
And your man's your comrade too
In that fearful hunger winter
When all your two kids have to eat
Is potato peelings, pea pods
And the snow from off the street
And they're handing out the yellow stars
That one by one blink out
And you know you have to help them
And there is no time for doubt
Until the Gestapo knock on your door
And you find yourself alone
And in the settled dust you're just
A German widow far from home.

Grandmother was a monster
And I'd shrink beneath her claws
But Grandmother was a hero
And heroes have their flaws.
She didn't have much wit or grace
Or brains in large amounts
But grandmother was a human
And being human counts.

Written: Hertford and Deptford, London, October 1996 and 6 January 1997

Des de Moor

Des de Moor

© Copyright Des de Moor 1999

From the album Water of Europe (see left).

All rights reserved. No material on these pages can be reproduced in whole or in part in any form, except for short passages for the purpose of quotation or review, without prior written permission of the copyright owner.

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Water of Europe
Big Sister
Sleaze City
Sharp Contradictions
Ordinary Joe (Andrew Brooks/Michael Hodges)
My Father Said (Jacques Brel)
Grandmother was a Hero
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