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Yad Vashem to Honor Couple from the Netherlands

12 October 2010

On Thursday October 14, 2010, Yad Vashem will hold a ceremony posthumously honoring Nicolaas and Hendrikje Plantinga as Righteous Among the Nations. Aart Plantinga, son of the Righteous, will receive the medal and certificate of honor on their behalf. The ceremony will take place in the presence of H.E. Michiel den Hond, Ambassador of the Netherlands in Israel, survivors and friends of the family. A memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance will be held at 11:00 followed by the awarding the medal and certificate in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem. The events will take place in Dutch and Hebrew. The event is open to the press, in coordination with the Media Relations dept. 02 644 3410.

Rescue Story: Nicolaas and Hendrikje Plantinga, along with their son Aart lived in Amsterdam. Hendrikje managed the family’s boarding house, and Nicolaas delivered dairy products, his delivery route going through a neighborhood with many Jewish families.

In the summer of 1942, the deportations of Dutch Jews to the death camps began, and customers along Nicolaas' route began to ask if they could take refuge in the Plantinga family’s boarding house. Nicolaas and Hendrikje took 10 Jews into hiding: Lehman and Fietje Lierens and their son Jacques, three members of the Goudsmid family, Elkan de Vries, two sisters from the Drukkr family and Wilhelmina Mathilda van Praag.

Although the Jews hiding at the Plantinga lodgings paid for their own food, the danger and risk in providing food, medications and care for the group was monumental. Once a month, a member of the Underground would deliver food ration coupons, and in order not to raise suspicions, Nicolaas would make his purchases in a distant neighborhood.

In March 1944, the Plantinga’s contact person with the Underground was arrested, and their hiding place compromised. German and Dutch police surrounded the boarding house, arrested the Jews hiding there and deported them to concentration camps. Of the ten Jews who hid at the Plantinga’s, only Wilhelmina survived. Hendrikje was sick at the time, and was not arrested; Nicolaas was away when the police arrived and his neighbors warned him not to return home. Nicolaas, Hendrikje and Aart could no longer remain in their home and were forced to find shelter in a factory. When the factory owner discovered that Nicolaas was wanted by the police, he denounced the family in to the authorities. Hendrikje was eventually released, but Nicolaas was deported to the Vught concentration camp and from there to Neuengamme where he died on January 18, 1945. When Hendrikje returned home with Aart, she discovered that the entire home had been looted and she was no longer able to rent out rooms to boarders. In order to support herself, she worked as a cleaner. Hendrikje died on December 6, 1989. Wilhelmina, the only one of the hidden group who survived, currently lives in Amsterdam.

On November 29, 2009, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous at Yad Vashem decided to recognize Nicolaas and Hendrikje Plantinga as Righteous Among the Nations.

Click here for more information about the Righteous Among the Nations Program.