29 May 2006
A ceremony honoring Bernard and Hendrika Colenbrander and their son Elbert as Righteous Among the Nations will be held in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem, Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 11:30. Elbert Colenbrander is traveling from Holland to participate in the ceremony and receive the medal and certificate on behalf of his late parents and himself. Ben and Yitzhak Hulata (nee Monnikendam), of Israel, brothers who were rescued by the Colenbranders, will also participate in the ceremony, along with some 45 family members. The medals and certificates will be presented by Yad Vashem Director General Nathan Eitan. The ceremony will take place in Hebrew and Dutch.
The Monnikendams - parents and three children - lived in Amsterdam. The father was a shoemaker, and the mother a homemaker. In June 1941, the eldest son was deported to Mauthausen where he was killed. In the summer of 1943, as the persecution of the Jews in Amsterdam intensified, 18-year old Ben, and 16-year old Yitzhak decided to escape the city, with the help of their friend Luke, a member of the Dutch underground. Their parents, Barend and Katrina, chose to remain in Amsterdam. They were caught and sent to their deaths in Auschwitz in October 1943.
Following their escape from Amsterdam, Ben and Yitzhak hid in a farm in Eastern Holland, until they ran out of money to pay the farmers. They were then moved to the family farm in Varsseveld, a small village near the German border. Bernard and Hendrika Colenbrander, their 11 children and a grandfather lived on the farm. Bernard Colenbrander had just been released from Vught concentration camp for resisting the regime and on suspicion of hiding Jews. Upon Bernard’s arrest, his son Elbert, then 21 years old, hurried to find alternate hiding places for the three Jews who were then being sheltered on the Colenbranders’ farm. Despite the grave danger, particularly because of Bernard’s arrest, the Colenbranders agreed to hide the two Monnikendam brothers. They hid them in a small room above the pigsty on their farm, along with two British pilots, and looked after all their needs. Later on during the war, Elbert brought an additional two Jews to hiding places on the farm.
Toward the end of the war, German soldiers arrived on the family farm and billeted part of it for their own use. Nevertheless, the Colenbranders continued to hide the Jews on their property, and despite the added risk, continued to provide food to all the people in hiding, at times when the German soldiers were out. Ben and Yitzhak Monnikendam remained in their rescuers’ home until they were liberated in April 1945.
In 1963, Yad Vashem embarked upon a worldwide project to grant the title of Righteous Among the Nations to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. For more information about the Righteous Among the Nations program, click here.