Henk Brink accepts the certificate and medal of honor of Righteous Among the Nations on behalf of his late father Henk Drogt from the Chairman of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations, Supreme Court Justice Yaacov Turkel
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22 September 2008
Henk Drogt, Righteous Among the Nations from the Netherlands, was posthumously honored at Yad Vashem on Monday September 22, 2008 for rescuing Jews during the Holocaust. A memorial ceremony took place in the Hall of Remembrance, which was followed by the unveiling of the inscribed name of the Righteous in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. The ceremony was held in the presence of Henk Brink, son of the Righteous, H.E Michiel den Hond, Dutch Ambassador to Israel, and Honorable Supreme Court Justice Yaacov Turkel, Chairman of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations. Present at the ceremony as well were soldiers of the IDF military police, who paid tribute to the Dutch military policeman Henk Drogt who sacrificed his life to rescue Jews during the Holocaust.
Speaking during the ceremony, Henk Brink declared, “Your decision to honor my father has sent a strong signal to the world, that Israel never forgets its friends.” Reflecting upon the current rise in antisemitism, Ambassador den Hond said, “it is all the more important to draw attention to those who refused to stand by, those who refused to look the other way when antisemitism reached its historic peak under the Nazis”.
The Rescue Story
On March 9, 1943 the military police, Marechaussee, in Grootegast, Holland and its neighboring villages, received the order to arrest the remaining Jews of the area. At first, the policemen tried to argue with their superiors, but their commanders insisted and pressured their subordinates to comply with the order. The policemen stood firm and were subsequently arrested and taken to the Vught concentration camp. In 1988, Yad Vashem recognized all but one of them as Righteous Among the Nations.
Henk Drogt’s name was missing from the list submitted to the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous, because he had managed to escape arrest. It took another twenty years and the unexpected help of an EL AL pilot, Mark Bergman, in order to be able to complete the picture. The stories he heard from Drogt’s son, Henk Brink (Drogt), whom he met on one of his flights to South Africa, prompted Bergman to turn to Yad Vashem.
Following his escape, Henk Drogt joined one of the Dutch resistance groups. He was caught in the beginning of August 1943 and executed on 14 April 1944. Henk Drogt was a young man of 23 years old at the time of his arrest, planning to get married to his girlfriend who was expecting a child - a son that he did not live to see.
Over 22,000 individuals have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, including more than 4,800 people from Holland. For more information about the Righteous Among the Nations program click here.