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Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations: The Netherlands to be Unveiled at Yad Vashem Ceremony Tomorrow

Avner Shalev to present two-volume Encyclopedia to Dutch Ambassador in presence of Righteous Among the Nations from Holland

25 August 2004

Tomorrow, August 26, 2004, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev will present The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations: The Netherlands to HE Mr. Bob Hiensch, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Israel at a ceremony at Yad Vashem. Attending the ceremony which will take place at 10:30 in the Yad Vashem Auditorium, will be Mr. Tinus Schabbing, of Holland, who along with his wife, Tony, was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1964, as well as Mr. Guido Smit, of Canada, the son of Jan Smit, who was also recognized by Yad Vashem in 1964 as a Righteous Among the Nations. After the ceremony, the annual gathering of the Foundation of Former Members of all the Hachshara Centers and Hehalutz Underground Movements in Holland - Westerweel Group Included will take place in the Auditorium. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Joop Westerweel’s murder. The event is open to the press in coordination with the Spokesperson’s Office.

About the Encyclopedia

The two-volume Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations: The Netherlands is part of a comprehensive project to present the stories of the over 20,000 Righteous Among the Nations recognized by Yad Vashem. Additional Encyclopedias include France (already published in English and French), Poland (expected date of publication, October 2004), and Central & Western Europe and the Rest of the World. The Netherlands volumes contains thousands of stories of Dutch Righteous Among the Nations who have been recognized by Yad Vashem. As of January 2004, 4,586 Dutch people have been thus recognized. The volumes contain a detailed introduction, a summary of the series, an index for cross-referencing, maps, a glossary and pictures. The Encyclopedia was edited by Academic Advisor to Yad Vashem Professor Israel Gutman. Dr. Jozeph Michman (Melkman) and Dr. Berg Jan Flim edited the Netherlands volumes. A Dutch version of the Encyclopedia will be published in the future. In putting their lives at risk and in many cases those of their families, to save Jews for no altruistic motive whatsoever but simply because it was “the right thing to do” the men and women Yad Vashem has recognized as Righteous Among the Nations demonstrated the highest standards of ethical and moral behavior. In 1953 the Knesset (Israeli parliament) established the Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance (Yad Vashem) Law, giving particular emphasis in the law “to commemorate the high-minded Gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews.” Legally empowered by the State of Israel, Yad Vashem is the only body that gives official recognition to those who saved Jewish lives on behalf of the Jewish people.

About Tinus Schabbing

As a resistance worker, Tinus Schabbing obtained passes for five people to travel up and down the country. Until he joined the Westerweel group in 1942, he worked for the food distribution service in the Noord-Oostpolder. Once part of the group, Tinus gave up his job to devote himself to the Resistance full-time. He was involved in freeing Jews from Westerbork, and accompanying them across the border to Belgium. At the end of 1944, when it became impossible to reach Westerbork, he distributed food coupons to people in hiding. At one point Schabbing was arrested, but the arresting officer was sympathetic and he was shortly released. Schabbing and his wife also hid Jews in their home, even when it was especially dangerous because the Gestapo already knew their names. Tinus and Tony Schabbing were not arrested again.

About the Westerweel Group

Joop Westerweel was one of the most daring and successful of the Dutch Resistance leaders until his execution by the Nazis at the Vught concentration camp in August 1944. He could not countenance the segregation between Jews and non-Jews instituted by the Germans in Holland, which offended his humanitarian and democratic sensibilities and ignited a burning desire within him to do something for the Jews. When the opportunity arose, the Westerweel group, an appellation given to Joop’s followers after the war, came into being. The Westerweel group was unusual in that it consisted of both Jews and non-Jews working together to save Jewish lives. The non-Jews were a small group of humanitarians, friends acquaintances and colleagues of Joop. The Jewish members, as well as the Jews they rescued, were all in their teens or early twenties. Most of the Jewish children assisted were refugees from Germay who had come ot the Netherlands on Kindertransports. In addition, there was a small Dutch component of young Halutzim (Zionist-oriented pioneers.) Joop and his group were involved in hiding 50 children from Germany as well as a number of other groups, and in helping Jews escape to Switzerland and to Belgium (and from there to France, and neutral Spain, and Eretz Israel.) Altogether, the Westerweel group assisted some 300-400 Halutzim, saving a large percentage of them. Joop Westerweel himself paid with life, as did a number of his close associates including Joachim Simon (Shushu), a leader of the group. Joop and his wife Willy (Wilhelmina) were recognized in 1964 by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations. More information about the Righteous Among the Nations program is available at http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/index.asp