Monthly Archives: August 2012

What do you think?

What do you think is the biggest danger facing the Jewish people today?  This will not be edited unless it involves any form of racist hatred.  The object of this post is not to spin anyone in any political or social direction.  I want to know what you think and want those who read this blog to know what concerns are out there.  Also, I urge you, regardless of where this post originates for you to post your comments on Holland’s Heroes.  Again, whether I agree with you or not, and regardless of how political your comments are, unless there is blatant bigotry in your comments the responses will be posted.

Misplaced Tolerance

Earlier on Facebook I came across a post in which people criticized Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau for his comments regarding the recent ban on circumcision.  The comment that was criticized was as follows: “I didn’t see such German sensitivity to Jewish blood during the Shoah (Holocaust).”   The following was my reply in the post in which other’s criticized Israel’s former Chief Rabbi and Holocaust survivor.



It is easy to criticize a man like Rabbi Lau, but any one of us in his position with the same experiences may have responded the same way. Yes I realize that it is a different Germany today and that not everything relates to the Holocaust, but those who went through that time are justifiably sensitive to behaviors that remind them of that time, be it due to the actual behavior or the people responsible for the behavior. It is easy for most of us who have not experienced that sort of terror to put the focus on someone like Rabbi Lau, who in fact in his commitment to the Jewish people since 1945 has been somewhat heroic despite the suffering he saw at a young age. I have tolerance for the people of Germany today because I feel this generation has earned it, but I will not make that tolerance come before the tolerance I have for an elderly Jewish man, a great man, who reacted to something that struck a deep emotional chord.

Blind Faith

Since this website is not a forum for political endorsement I will not declare my personal allegiance in the upcoming presidential election.  Ask me in another forum and I will have no shame in stating my preference and speak with me one on one and I will gladly debate you, but unless I feel something is unquestionably relevant to the survival or history of the Jewish people, I will do my best to stay on point.  This website, one that was set up to promote the book Jew Face, is being used to bring to light holocaust denial, holocaust mentality, anti-Semitism, and historically relevant facts as they pertain to the Holocaust and my parents’ experiences.

So today I will speak of the upcoming election, but in a way I have not seen anywhere else till now.   When 6 million people get murdered by a force as strong as the Nazis were between 1933 and 1945, there is very little criticism given to the victims.  And rightly so.  The innocent victims, people who were merely guilty of being born Jewish, did nothing to deserve their horrible fate.  The brutality of the Nazis is well documented and needs to be continually documented so that it will never be forgotten.  There is however one criticism often given to the victims as a group.  This criticism is that they listened blindly and followed like sheep.  Now I do not have the arrogance to make this criticism because none of us know what we would have done in this situation.  However, this argument may be backed up by looking at those who did stand up and fight, or recognized what was going on and did not follow blindly.  My father, Nardus Groen, was one of those people, and although he was the first to credit it to good fortune and God’s blessing, it is hard not to make an argument that his behavior lead to his survival, my mother’s survival, and the existence of their entire offspring, yours truly included.

So heading into the November election, whether you are Conservative or Liberal, love or hate President Obama, Republican or Democrat, I have one strong request from you.  Use your mind.  Don’t blindly follow anything.  If you hate Obama, I guarantee you that some of the criticisms of your sources are either spun or fabricated, and if you love Obama I guarantee the same.  Do not follow anyone like sheep.  Even those you consider to be like minded.  Be fair, be thoughtful, and be aware.  For when you follow like sheep, you are often being lead to slaughter.  And if anything can be learned from the past, it’s that independent thought is a much better road to survival than blind trust.

How Dare They!

People need to be made aware of the fact that there are people this despicable and heartless within our midst.  I will not post the picture on my website but I will mention the actual group name in Facebook.  It is called YOLOcaust and it shows among other things, a photshopped picture of Hitler sleeping with Anne Frank.  It is one of the most disgraceful things I have seen in quite some time and it would be against everything this website stands for to remain quiet.  Pass this along, contact Facebook, and make your voice heard.  There is no room for one iota of tolerance for something like this and we must make it clear to those who have the power to do something about it.

August 13, 1943

69 years ago today was Friday August 13, 1943.  In Holland this was a time when as a Jew, if you were fortunate enough to still be alive, your life was in constant peril.  If you did not look Jewish you still needed to have a false identity and what was perceived as a benefit or purpose to the Nazi occupiers. The Jewish institutions were being systematically depleted and destroyed with the ultimate goal of total extermination.  The NIZ, the hospital where my mother lived and worked as a nurse, had reached that point where the final raid was upon them.  As a young pretty woman who was clearly Jewish and one who had seen her whole world turned upside down, Sipora Rodrigues-Lopes was on the verge of giving up.  She would find the strength and with the support of Nardus Groen would find her way out of the NIZ.

In many ways their story takes on its greatest significance on this day, August 13, 1943, a day when their connection became strong and their travels began.  The following is the books Prologue and shows the events of this fateful day.

The date was Friday, August 13, 1943, and it felt like the worst moment of Sipora’s young life. She knew that the Germans were in the building and getting closer to finding her. She had already been through so much and she knew that the situation was going to get a lot worse before it got better. Her will to live was being taken over by despair. She was not the type of woman who would ever do anything to speed up her own death, but she also did not feel like running or fighting. So she decided that she would just wait on the third floor and when the Nazi soldiers located her,
she would willingly leave with the rest of the patients and hospital staff . At least then she felt as though she could do some good by making the sick and elderly patients a little more comfortable.
Nardus, however, had no intention of allowing this to happen. As had been the case since the beginning of the Nazi invasion of Amsterdam, he instinctively knew that whatever Jews were not murdered instantly would instead suffer greatly through torture, experimentation, rape, or brutal slave labor. Since he found Sipora before the soldiers did, he knew he had to get her out. And to a man like Nardus, it did not matter what Sipora thought of this idea. It was going to happen his way. And that was that.

When Sipora saw Nardus, she had already sunk so deep into
hopelessness she wasn’t even able to feel any sense of relief. And she was determined to let him know. “I am just going to wait here and let them take me too,” she told Nardus.

“They will need a nurse for the trip. If nothing else, I can make
them feel more comfortable.”

Some moments define an individual, and other moments can define a relationship between two individuals. In many ways, what was about to take place would define much of Nardus and Sipora’s relationship. True to his nature, Nardus was not suggesting or asking what would happen next. What he was doing was telling Sipora what would happen next.

“I’ll tell you what,” he said in his straight-to-the-point manner, “since you are going to your death anyway, and that is your plan, I will throw you out the window right now myself. At least then you will die quickly. Either way you will die.”

Sipora was crying now. “What’s the point?” she said. “There’s no hope. My family is gone; your family is gone. They’re even taking sick and old patients from here and transporting them out of the city.”

Knowing that he needed to remain calm and in control, Nardus made it very clear to Sipora what was to happen next.

“Get up and let’s get out of here. We will find a way to survive this. All you have to do is trust me and listen to what I tell you to do.”
Although what she was experiencing felt like hell, Sipora was at least able to move now. What made the difference was that someone else, someone she was growing to trust more and more by the day, was taking control and leading her in what at least felt like a better direction.

Neither Nardus nor Sipora had any idea what was to come next, but it did not matter. The only thing that mattered now was that Nardus would never allow either one of them to just sit and wait to be killed. At this moment, which signified all the drama, horror, and significance of the times they were living through, these two people were thrust together in a way that set the tone for all that was yet to come.

An Author’s Thank You

There are times when posting on the website is more difficult than others.  It isn’t what I would call writer’s block, but it is caused by an inability to find a specific topic that is inspiring me enough to write about or even do research on it.  Today being one of those days I just sat back, cleared my mind, and asked myself what I was truly feeling.  The word came to me quickly.  Gratitude.

I have discovered that a book that is only in its fourth month is in many ways and in most cases still in its infancy.  It is impossible to determine what level of success it will reach.  That of course is a good thing seeing as 4 months in no one would want to see their creation’s growth hitting a brick wall.  I have said from the start that there are different levels of success the book could reach.  What I want to briefly speak of now is the level it has reached till now, and to thank those who have helped or shown appreciation in ways that have meant so much to me.

When I speak of the book to others I generally refer to it as “my book”.  When I speak of it with my family, I generally refer to it as “the book” or “our book”.  That is because a book such as this one that takes us back to our origins and documents where we came from does not belong to only me it belongs to my entire family.   And that means whoever wants to hop on board, since those origins are not exclusive to a limited few.  The families that have emerged are numerous and I welcome anyone connected to join in and feel the connection.  Whether it was a nephew who stated that he loved learning things about where he came from, or a relative who read the book twice to gain insight on the people in the book she knew or had known in person, the reactions of family who felt a greater connection to the family as a result of the book has meant so much to me.

The support of my family as a whole has been tremendous, and actions such as helping post a YouTube video or pushing sales in a place of employment such as a Japanese restaurant, or setting up speaking engagements has helped push this book to what appears to be the next level of success.

I have heard people say they cried when they read it, felt inspired by it, and think of it when they were down as a reminder that their life was not all that bad.  People have shown me that it has struck a chord and impacted them in positive ways.  And to all those who have expressed that, to you I say I thank you.  Your words mean everything to me for they reinforce for me that what I have done here has true meaning.

From the warmest of welcomes from a synagogue in Philadelphia, to the graphic artist who helped me create a bookmark, to the friend who interviewed me for his radio program, and the generous and kind woman who wants to set up a book signing for me in New York, I say, thank you.

There are so many people whose expressions and actions have been meaningful that I chose to leave out names.  I thank all of you and want you to realize how special you have made this experience for me so far.  Maybe most of all I thank my mother for being part of the process with me, or even better, going back to how the story began, allowing all of us to be part of the process with her.

I have learned that although only one person writes a book, it is the people who appreciate it and value it that give it its true meaning and life.  And to all of you I say thank you.

Speaking engagement in Philadelphia on August 4th