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No awards for helpers of converted Haarlem Jews

Yad Vashem under fire

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM - Dutch recipients of Yad Vashem's highest honour are considering returning the title to protest "discrimination" against saviors of ex-Jews, say leaders of the Dutch Jewish community. Yad Vashem has not yet responded to the request to reconsider the matter.

The protest is about a recent decision by Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority to refuse an application for an Award to families who hid children of a converted Haarlem Jewish family. The request to reconsider was signed by 230 people, including Yad Vashem recipients and well-known Dutch Jews who survived the German occupation. Another 140 have added their name to the petition since.

The petition calls for the recognizing two families, the Hollebrands and the Egginks, who hid three children from Haarlem’s Sanders family. They already had converted before World War II and were members of a liberal Protestant church community. The Nazis later caught and murdered them as Jews in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.


Yad Vashem's Commission for the Recognition of the Righteous among the Nations determined the couples were ineligible for the title because the children were no longer Jewish.

The petitioners call Yad Vashem's rejection discriminatory and unacceptable, pointing out that the Sanders shared the same fate as other Jews and should be treated accordingly.

The petition also warns Yad Vashem that the title may have "lost a great deal of its value" as a result of the rejection and adds that in order to "restore" its integrity, Yad Vashem must state it considers "all persecuted and murdered Jews equal, regardless of religion."


During the war, the father registered the family as Jewish and sent the children into hiding with the Hollebrands and Egginks. He was arrested in 1943 and tortured into divulging their whereabouts. He, his wife and the children - Eline, 10, Egbert, 8 and Marie Lena, 6 - were murdered that year.

Dutch-American journalist and author Dick Verkijk, a former resistance member from Haarlem, had written a book about the Sanders family and applied to Yas Vashem on behalf the the Hollebrands and Egginks. The Utah resident, who on July 4 turns 80, was stunned by the reaction he received from Yad Vashem. It states that the institution does not follow "the Nazi definition of the victim" and only pays "tribute to those who risked their lives to save Jews, not for other purposes such as saving other people who were victimized by the Nazis."

One of the cosignatories is Ronny Naftaniel, head of the Dutch Jewish agency, CIDI. In protesting Yad Vashem's ruling, he notes that Sanders “decided everything for the kids. At first their conversion before the war, then their registration as Jews and ultimately their hiding with two brave Christian families."