Anthonie Vink, son and grandson of the Righteous, was honored to rekindle the Eternal Flame during a memorial ceremony held in the Hall of Remembrance
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12 July 2016
On Tuesday 12 July 2016, Yad Vashem held a ceremony posthumously honoring Jan Willem Kamphuis and his daughter Klaziena Kamphuis-Vink from Holland as Righteous Among the Nations.
Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev presented Anthonie Vink, son of Klaziena Kamphuis-Vink and grandson of Jan Willem Kamphuis, with the medal and certificate of honor on behalf of his late mother and grandfather. The event took place in the presence of Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev; Supreme Court Justice (ret.) Jacob Turkel, Chairman of the Committee for the Designation of the Righteous; Righteous Commission member Estelle Shashar; Dr. James Loewenstein, son of Holocaust survivors Henny and Manfred Kurt Loewenstein; a representative of the Dutch Embassy in Israel; and family members and friends.
The Rescue Story
Henny Dunner was born in 1918 in the city of Cologne, Germany, where her father, Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Dunner, was the local rabbi. Henny attended the local Jewish Yavne School until her her parents decided to send her and her siblings to family living in Amsterdam. This was shortly after the rise to power of the Nazis, and Henny's parents felt that their children would be safer if they left Germany. In 1939, Henny's parents joined their children in Amsterdam, where Henny trained to be a seamstress.
In the spring of 1943, Henny was arrested and taken to Hollandsche Schouwburg, the Jewish Theater in Amsterdam that served as an assembly point for Jews who had been arrested and were awaiting deportation. There, she told the authorities that she had experience caring for children and was transferred to the adjacent children's home, where she looked after the children before their deportation. Henny successfully escaped from the children's home together with her future husband, Manfred Kurt Loewenstein. Shortly thereafter, the two found a hiding place in the home of Jan Willem Kamphuis, a widower who lived together with his daughter, Klaziena, in Driebregen near the city of Utrecht. Despite the danger, Jan Willem and Klaziena opened their home to Manfred and Henny. For eight months, the couple hid in a small room in the attic of the house. Although Henny and Manfred never dared venture outside except to hide out in the nearby forest when imminent danger loomed, the neighbors became suspicious of the Kamphuis home, and in February 1944, the situation became more dangerous, particularly because some of the neighbors were Dutch Nazi party members. With the help of the local resistance, Henny and Manfred were taken to another hiding place, where they stayed through the end of the war. Shortly before their liberation, while still in hiding, Henny gave birth to their son, James.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Dunner and his wife had been arrested together with their children and deported to Bergen Belsen. Fortunately, the family was part of a prisoner exchange for German Templars from Mandatory Palestine and thus survived the war. One of Henny's sisters, Ruth Dunner, was sent to Auschwitz and murdered there.
For many years following their deaths, James Loewenstein searched for any surviving relatives of his parents' rescuers, including making a trip to the Netherlands, but to no avail. Little did he know that in the meantime, Anthonie Vink had met and married a Jewish Israeli woman and moved to Israel to raise their Dutch Jewish children.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day last year, Vink, who had also spent years searching for the Loewenstein family, finally managed to find a phone listing for Dr. James Loewenstein, and made a call that would change their lives. After a brief conversation confirming that he had reached the correct address, the two families were reunited. Fortunately, both had kept documentation attesting to the rescue story, and soon after Loewenstein applied to Yad Vashem to honor his parents' rescuers, the late Jan Willem Kamphuis and Klaziena Kamphuis-Vink were recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.
At the moving ceremony held in Yad Vashem' Synagogue, which was also attended by participants of the Yad Vashem 2016 Leadership Mission, Righteous Commission Chairman Justice Turkel described the Jewish nation as "the carriers of memory, who are mandated to remember the Shoah as well as the lights in the black holes - the Righteous Among the Nations. This recognition is a sublime expression of the affirmation of life and the survival of the Jewish people."
"My late grandfather and mother simply saw it as their duty to protect the lives of a Jewish family when approached by their local church leader," explained Anthonie Vink. "The fact that we are gathered here today is a miracle on its own."
Dr. James Loewenstein thanked Yad Vashem or helping recognizing his parents' rescuers. "The Mitzvah to be thankful [for the good deeds of others] is deeply rooted in Jewish law and tradition," he said. "Though to my great regret Jan Willem and Klaziena are not alive to accept this award, they undoubtedly are here in spirit, as the Talmud teaches us that the souls of the Righteous Among the Nations continue to live in the Garden of Eden from where they witness this blessed ceremony."