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Wartime child-refugee Goslins returns from U.S. to award ceremony with daughter

Elderly widow inducted in Yad Vashem

Tags: World War II

HAULERWIJK, the Netherlands - Sixty years of family history for the From and Goslinski families recently came full circle. Wide publicity now sharply contrasted the secrecy of the early 1940s, when three-year old Martin (then Tino) Goslinski was placed in hiding with Roelof and Anna From (now 92). The Froms in a public ceremony were awarded Israel’s Yad Vashem, the Righteous among the Nations designation.

The presence of Dutch American Martin Goslins - the last two letters were dropped from the name in the U.S. - made the award ceremony in the Frisian bordertown with Drenthe all the more memorable. Goslins, who over the past ten years only had contact with Anna From’s son (and his war-time ‘brother’) Bjintze by correspondance and e-mail, never had been back to the Frisian village of Donkerbroek. He had taken his daughter Rachel along for the occasion.

A visit to Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Museum by Bjintze From some years ago led him to register his mother with the organization for her wartime hospitality of Martin. By the time he arrived at the From’s in 1942, the three-year old boy already had been in a long series of hiding places. The Froms recall him as a scared and frightened child who quickly responded to regular family life with his two new brothers.

Close encounter

The warning of an impending raid by the Nazis in the Summer of 1944- ‘landwachter’ Jacob Luitjens who was deported from Canada in 1992, according to witnesses at the Vancouver federal court hearings also had been conducting at least one violent raid in the area - ended Martin’s stay of nearly two years in Donkerbroek. He was taken to the nearby village of Bontebok where he was placed with the family of a church custodian before spending the last number of months in Katlijk.

Meanwhile, the From house which was situated alongside a canal, the Compagnievaart, during the night was raided by Nazi henchmen. Roelof From was ordered to get dressed and placed under arrest. During the search of the house the group’s commander noticed the advanced pregnancy of Anna and the empty crib. He apologized for the rude intrusion. Eventually, the Nazis departed without their prisoner. Lacking proof of the crime of hiding a Jewish child, they let Roelof off with a stern warning.

Roelof and Anna From were not the only ones in the family to hide Jewish countrymen. Roelof’s father Jan also harboured strangers on the run, Albert and Greetje Silverenberg. Just as son Roelof, Jan too was posthumously awarded the Yad Vashem. A number of others from the area earlier were awarded the Yad Vashem, including several in Canada. Goslins’ daughter Rachel, a documentary filmmaker, recorded the event and trip.

Martin Goslins whose family had survived Nazi occupation, in 1953 emigrated to the U.S.A. with his parents and sister. Goslins Sr. who had been a family physician in Leeuwarden, took up his profession again in California. He and his wife both have since died. Goslins Jr. eventually became a dentist, did some acting and now works as a lawyer, specializing in setting up family trusts for handicapped children.