07 February 2022
On 3 February 2022, the late Dr. Jacob Cornelis Boon of Holland was designated Righteous Among the Nations at a moving ceremony held at Yad Vashem on Jerusalem's Mount of Remembrance. The medal and certificate were presented to Israeli citizen Liz Dolev, the daughter of the rescuer, by Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan and Director of the Righteous Among the Nations Department Dr. Joel Zisenwine. Relatives and friends of Dr. Boon and the survivor Abraham Veffer were present at the ceremony, alongside members of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations.
Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan stated at the event:
“Elie Wiesel said that ‘the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference,’ and the vast majority were indifferent to the fate of the Jews. Perhaps we can understand the inaction. But within this group was a very small group of people whose moral compass did not allow them to remain idle: the Righteous Among the Nations … the highest honor, without a doubt, that the State of Israel – the Jewish people – awards through Yad Vashem. We are proud, Liz, that your father Dr. Jacob Boon and other Dutchmen took their lives in their hands in order to save the Veffer family and now belong to this extraordinary group.”
Recalling a childhood punctuated with sudden and unexplained moves from place to place, Liz Dolev said she never knew when or how her parents helped save Jews.
“I made Aliyah in order to start my life anew…. When my third son, Ido, was born, my mother arrived and brought with her a gift from my father – a Tanach [Old Testament] combined with the New Testament. On the first page he wrote ‘To my eldest daughter, my son-in-law and their three children, with the hope that the high moral values that were born in Israel many years ago and are expressed in the New Testament and the Tanach as one will be part of your lives in Israel now and in the future.”
Yonah Veffer, the great-nephew of Abraham Veffer, told of the roots trip his family took to Holland, where they met Jan Makkinje, who was only five years old when his family also helped to hide the Veffer family.
“Jan remembered the story well; what his family did, and how he – as a young child – did not tell a single soul… there were many people who helped the Veffers with incredible acts of kindness, including, of course, Dr. Jacob Boon. The assistance he provided my uncle Abraham was huge, but he also helped my grandparents through great personal sacrifice. It has been said many times on this platform that whoever saves one life saves a world entire, and so on behalf of myself and the Veffer family – generations born and to be born, I want to say thank you.”
The Rescue Story
Jonas Veffer and Sara Nebig, childhood friends, were married in Amsterdam in 1923. The couple had six children: Jacob (b. 1924), Rachel (b. 1926), Meijer (b. 1928), Abraham (b. 1930), Joseph (b. 1931) and Juda (b. 1933). In 1928, the family moved to Bussum, where they opened a successful florist shop.
After the German occupation of Holland in 1940, antisemitism increased and the Nazi authorities imposed ever increasing restrictions on the Jewish citizens.
In 1942, two members of the resistance disguised as German soldiers visited the Veffer family’s shop. They told the Veffers that the deportations of the Jews in Amsterdam had started, and they offered the family a hiding place in a large residence in Bussum. The Veffers and other relatives gratefully accepted their offer. After one month, however, the resistance workers were arrested, and the Jewish refugees quickly scattered to other hiding places.
Abraham Veffer, then 12 years old, was hidden by Dr. Jacob Cornelis Boon, a former loyal customer of the florists. Boon’s wife was Jewish, and he was active in the resistance. Dr. Boon was a physician in the Diaconesses hospital in Bussum, where he admitted Abraham as a patient. At first, Abraham was hospitalized in an isolation room, but when the staff grew suspicious, he was placed in the children’s ward. Dr. Boon continuously watched over Abraham.
Apparently due to informers, one day Dr. Boon and Abraham were arrested and brought to the Gestapo headquarters in Amsterdam. After being imprisoned for six weeks, Dr. Boon was released. Because there were no transports to the Westerbork transit camp at that time, Abraham was taken to an orphanage in Amsterdam. When his mother, Sara Veffer, learned from the resistance what happened to her son, she traveled to the orphanage and managed to bring Abraham back to Bussum. There he was hidden by the Makkinje, Bakker, and Snel families until liberation.
After the war, the Veffer family emigrated to Canada, where they again opened a florist shop.
On 27 May 2019, Yad Vashem recognized Dr. Jacob Cornelis Boon as Righteous Among the Nations.
To date, Yad Vashem has recognized some 29,000 Righteous Among the Nations from over 50 nations worldwide. For more information about the Righteous Among the Nations program, click here.
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Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, was established in 1953.
Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education.