Skip to comments.Dutch women named 'Righteous Among Nations'
Posted on 03/31/2005 10:06:39 PM PST by M. Espinola
Staring certain death straight in the face, the 18-year-old Dutch teen did not flinch. It was 1943 in Nazi-occupied Holland, with the Nazi deportation of Dutch Jews in full swing.
In a rural farm in south-central of the country, Hilde van Straten-Duizer stood facing a group of German soldiers who were searching her mother's home for any Jews who were in hiding.
After completing a thorough search of the entire house, the teen knew where the ever-so-thorough- German soldiers would undoubtedly go next: the storage loft above the family barn.
What van Straten-Duizer also knew was among some bundles of hay in the storage loft was exactly where a 22 year old Jewish friend of the family was being sheltered, having recently escaped a Nazi deportation to a concentration camp.
With only seconds separating her whole family from certain death for giving refuge to a Jew, the country teen and her sister engaged the Germans in conversation, overtly flirting with them. Distracted by the clever ruse, the Germans would leave the house a quarter hour later without ever checking the storage area.)
Until the end of the war, Van Straten-Duizer and her mother Gijsbertje Duizer would continue to give refuge to the young Jewish man -- whose own parents, like the vast majority of Dutch Jews, had been deported and murdered at Auschwitz -- despite the risk to their own lives and their frighteningly close encounter with the Germans.
By the war's end, Hilde Van Straten-Duizer had fallen in love with her family's hidden guest, and, after the liberation of Holland would convert to Judaism and marry him.
Joop and Hilde Van Straten immigrated to Israel in 1951, and had four children.
For the next five decades, the Van-Stratens maintained close ties with the family back in Holland, who were supportive of the move, and the marriage.
Hilde Van Straten's mother passed away in 1968, while her husband died in 1988. Now nearing 80, van-Straten-Duizer and her late mother were recognized Thursday at as a 'Righteous Among the Nations,' Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority's highest honor. [An impressive 70 percent of the 20,760 recognized 'Righteous Among the Nations' are from Holland.]
Her 83 year old sister, Cor Duizer, who flew in from Switzerland accepted the award on their mother's behalf.
More than sixty years after the event, the two white-haired ladies continually think back to that fateful day with the German soldiers, van-Straten-Duizer said after the ceremony, her face aglow with emotion. "We always speak about it among ourselves," she said.
She and her sister were too moved to speak at the ceremony itself, where more than a hundred friends and family members had gathered, to give honor to their heroism and courage. But, speaking on her behalf, her son Shalom van-Straten said that the Bible-believing Dutch family to whom he owes his very existence, never felt they did something out of the ordinary.
"They never saw in their behavior anything special, certainly not something to talk on about; it was their nature, and their way of life," he said.
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What a wonderful story. These women very much deserved to be honored. Good thing men so easily succumb to being flirted with. A little wink here, a little batting of the eyelids there, is all it took to distract the German soldiers. Thank goodness some of the time honored techniques of women flattering men worked that day. LOL!
Sorry to say there were no available photos of the honoured ladies from the Dutch Holocaust period, otherwise they would have been included.
This is the difference between the Dutch of that era and now.
Incidentally, it's also the reason why Micronesia always votes in support of Israel at the UN. Christian missionaries transformed this island into a Bible reading nation of believers.
Wonderful story, always brings tears to my eyes. Back in 1991 my paternal grandparents were also recognized by Yad Vashem. They received the recognition one month before my grandfather passed away.
You are in Micronesia?
I knew Micronesia had a superb U.N. voting record regarding Israel and the U.S. Now I know why. Thanks for listing that information.
Knowing your direct relatives undertook an extremely dangerous assignment to save the lives of the persecuted, is also an honour to be part of your greater family. These are truly heroes among men.
Thanks for the ping
Righteous of the Nations ping! A brave Dutch woman!
What a moving story. Thanks for posting it!
Thanks for the ping. And good point. I find it hard to believe the Nazis would have been lenient on anyone guilty of the cardinal sin -- helping a Jew.
Somewhere on this Board is a thread describing Dutch doctors' refusal to participate in Nazi atrocities.
OTOH the Dutch government rolled over in three days.
I wonder how the Jews would feel if some nation started to commemorate the "Righteous Among the Jews"?
What's your point?
Be blunt. After your links to a neo-Nazi website and your refusal to remove it, I have no illusions.
Some nations issue their medals and awards. Israel and this organization issues this tribute. What is it you can't understand or disrespect -- someone risking their life to save a Jew?
It is that I find it condensending. There are several Jews who saved Polish lives after Societ invasion in 1939. Still it would be offensive to single such Jews as "Righteous among the Jews".
Such practice of appointing the "righteous" people is blasphemous. It implies that others are not by default, it elevates the individuals who make the judgment to the special prideful status.
After your links to a neo-Nazi website and your refusal to remove it, I have no illusions.
You are trying to smear me by twisting the facts. The link (not links) which you call "neo-Nazi" was the first return on Google I got containing more information on the anti-Serbian PR paid by nationalist Croats and and Islamists - I did not look into it closely as my point was ony to get the names of PR companies and few facts/dates. I refused to delete my post because I do not like to be ordered in insulting manner.
You mean, how people who support Terri Schiavo have excoriated Jews for not agreeing with them and not "learning the lessons of the Holocaust", but then praised the few Orthodox Jews who did support their point of view? Prideful and blasphemous like that?
It's said that the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz. Apparently, that's also true of A Pole regarding Jedwabne, the schmaltzniks, the informers, and the pogroms. Don't waste your time. I shouldn't waste mine.
He resents the victims of the Holocaust for being identified as victims.
I don't. All awards and honors leave others out. So no one should ever receive comendation?
"Such practice of appointing the "righteous" people is blasphemous. It implies that others are not by default, it elevates the individuals who make the judgment to the special prideful status. "
Blasphemy? Absurd. It is merely the name of a human bestowed award. The organization bestowing the award has no intention or illusions of anything but an award. That's like the US having to change the name of the Afghan operation from Infinite Justice to Enduring Freedom because some Islamists were offended.
"You are trying to smear me by twisting the facts. The link (not links) which you call "neo-Nazi" was the first return on Google I got containing more information on the anti-Serbian PR paid by nationalist Croats and and Islamists - I did not look into it closely as my point was ony to get the names of PR companies and few facts/dates. I refused to delete my post because I do not like to be ordered in insulting manner."
I agree anyone can make a mistake. But honest ones result in retracion when the person in error is made conscious. If you think it is such a "smear" you would have deleted it after someone pointed out your mistake. That's all I did - pointed it out and asked you to delete it. You refused, never apologized, and lost your credibility.
And now it is you who twist the facts.
There are other sins but blasphemy. There is pride in refusing to fix one's mistakes.
The name "Infinite Justice" given to a military operation is insulting to EVERY person who really believes in God. Only God is infinitely just.
I have many comments.
Flaglady47: when it came to distracting German soldiers from their killing, Im afraid it often took a little more than "a little wink here, a little batting of the eyelids there." Rescuer Irene Gut Opdyke has written a gripping autobiography entitled "In My Hands" that tells how she saved a lot of Jewish people by, among other things, having an affair with a German officer.
William of Orange: Congratulations on having your grandfather recognized by Yad Vashem, or, rather congratulations on having a grandfather who did such great stuff!
Chukcha: death was the standard punishment across Eastern and Western Europe for the crime of "Jüdenhulp" but it seems to have been enforced more strictly in Eastern Europe. (Not that it wasnt enforced elsewhere!)
Dervish: Actually, it was five days. Not until after the Germans firebombed Rotterdam and the homes, buildings, and factories on over three hundred streets were destroyed.
A. Pole: First of all, honoring someone as being one of the "righteous among the nations" does not have anything to religion, it has to do with nationality. I think what you objection is based on is the even-more frequently used designation "righteous gentile." I have never much liked that expression because it arises out of a Jewish worldview in which the people can be divided up between Jews and non-Jews (gentiles). To then create a designation, "righteous gentile" does kind of give the impression that gentiles are not, as a general rule, righteous.
Then again, when you look at any large group of people, religious or non-religious, you will always find that most of them are not particularly righteous. Truly righteous people, such as those who are willing to risk their lives for the cause of justice, are always rare. Actually, what I think Yad Vashem was thinking is that Jews should not be specially honored for helping their own people because it is expected that they would help their own people.
Naturally, some people disagree with that position. I know one Dutch rescuer named Pieter Meerburg who tells of some amazing Jewish Holocaust rescuersWalter Süskind, a German Jew, saved perhaps a thousand Jewish people in Holland by helping to smuggle them out of a detention center. Yad Vashem has never honored Süskind because he is Jewish.
Which gets on the subject of righteous Jews. A. Pole, your remark sounded blatantly anti-Semitic, but nevertheless, I will answer your question. Righteous Jews? Yes, there were many besides Walter Süskindthere was another fellow named Felix Halverstad who tampered with the Nazi records so that Jews could be released, and there was a man named Vos who was great at falsifying documents and used his skill to save the lives of countless Jewish people in Holland.
As far as righteous Jews who are impacting the world today, there are many, many that come to mind. Some of my favorites: Michael Lerner (see www.tikkun.org), Rabbi Zalman Schacter (see recent interview with him on www.beliefnet.org), Elie Wiesel, Arthur Waskow (visit his organization, www.shalomctr.org ), Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, Paul Rogat Loeb (see www.soulofacitizen.org ), Susan Sontag (recently deceased, alas), Marion Wright-Edelman (www.childrensdefense.org ).
If any of you would like to read books about the Holocaust rescuers, Mary Mark and I have put together a partially-annotated bibliography:
And please check out my book "The Heart Has Reasons: Meetings with Holocaust Rescuers" when it comes out about a year from now.
Her whole family agreed to hide Jewish men, women and children...
..and successfully spirited them away to the country and safety.
Eventually, however, Corrie and family were caught and several sent to Ravensbruck.
Her father, sister and a nephew died....
...but Corrie (who was 48 at the time)...survived and lived almost 50 years more to tell the Gospel of the Good News to all who would listen.
One quote I will always remember from her life story...
There is no pit so deep....that God is not deeper still
"Gentiles" and "nations" means the same thing:
"Gentile" ("gentiles") comes from the Latin word gentili (gentilis) which meant "of the nations". The Catholic Vulgate version translated the Hebrew goyim ("nations") and Greek ethnoi ("nations") as gentili.
Also what upset me when some Jews in a patronizing way say that "gentiles" are fine if the follow the laws of Noah ie they are hold to a very low moral standard.
Which gets on the subject of righteous Jews. A. Pole, your remark sounded blatantly anti-Semitic, but nevertheless, I will answer your question. Righteous Jews? Yes, there were many besides Walter Süskindthere was another fellow named Felix Halverstad who tampered with the Nazi records so that Jews could be released, and there was a man named Vos who was great at falsifying documents and used his skill to save the lives of countless Jewish people in Holland. '
I think that you are missing the key point. You are again talking about saving Jews as the main measure of righteousness. What about righteousness expressing itself in saving non Jews be they Poles, Serbs, Gypsies, Palestinians or others?
There was time for example between 1939 and 1941 when countless Poles were sent to their death to Siberia. At that time Poles were singled for the destruction as the capitalists, government officials (including even the lowest ranking office workers), priests, officers, teachers and other reactionaries as such categories were the backbone of the Polish Republic in the eastern part where majority was non Polish. Other ethnic groups like Jews, Ukrainians and Byelrussian had privileged status as victims of opression under Polish aristocrats (Polskie Pany) and sometimes they could if they wanted save some Polish lives.
Do you see some validity in the difficulty I am presenting? Or are you going to dismiss it as another expression of antisemism? The choice is yours.
I am not sure if Corrie ten Boom is listed, but from reading information about her she should be.
Actually, if the Jews were committing genicide against the Poles, and a Jew decided to try hiding some of the innocent Poles from being murdered (with his own life in jeapordy), I don't think that there would be any problem with it at all.
The term "Righteous Among Nations" means that someone who was NOT at risk, put their own life at risk to help save others, while the rest of their society did little or nothing.
You have a problem with that?
You're right in the sense that the righteous "Run from honors".
Wrong analogy. Poles were not commiting the genocide against the Jews. It was the occupying German Nazi army and police. Poles were the nation which put up the military resistence (the first of all countries) and lost.
The proper analogy is if Poles were being singled for destruction (as Poles were under Soviet occupation 1939 to 1941) and people from other better treated groups like Jews or Ukrainians were protecting them. And indeed there were several such "righteous" men.
They always run!
"Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven." (Mt:6:1)
"That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly." (Mt:6:4)
If you accept the corrections I made in the previous post, then I can go along. Still I do not like this way of honoring the good men. I such men saved my family I would fear to "reward" them by giving them a title.
I wonder how the Jews would feel if some nation started to commemorate the "Righteous Among the Jews"?"
Honored, I would guess
I remember that Corrie was released by accident days before she was to be executed. She lived to tell the story of those who could not.
It's said that the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.
I'm not too sure about this. All the Germans I know are very pro-israel/jew almost in compensation for what happened. The Axel Springer Media group actually makes their reporters sign a pro-israeli contract which equates anti-zionism with anti-semitism.
Corrie ten Boom is indeed listed. She's one of my favorites!