In what would seem to be the most appropriate post to end the weekend tribute to Bevrijdinsdag, Dutch Liberation Day, I offer this video of the Liberation of Amsterdam. Although the harsh realities of what took place during these 5 years of Nazi occupation would soon come to light for those who had survived, on this day the good people of Holland had every right to celebrate. And that they did. As the Jews of Holland would learn of the devastation that had struck their world, those left in Holland, such as Sipora Groen, my mother and the woman on the cover of the book Jew Face, would at least be able to try to rebuild in what was now a free and always had been a friendly Holland. It is for this reason I take this opportunity to say on a personal note that although I am very proud of my Jewish roots, I am also very proud of my Dutch ones. Thank you Holland and thank you to all of the Dutch people for doing whatever you could to turn tragedy into hope. No nation deserved freedom more on that day and it has been my honor to celebrate it.
The following 2 videos showing the Liberation of Zutphen, in the Dutch province of Gelderland, in 1945, were put together by Harm Kuijper, who happens to be the son-in-law of Lubertus and Geeske te Kiefte, two of the main characters and heroes in the book Jew Face.
In commemorating Bevrijdingsdag, Dutch Liberation Day, we do so in 2 ways. We do so on a large scale, realizing that today is the day set out to celebrate the freedom from the occupation of the Nazi regime, and we do so on a smaller scale, remembering those and the family of those that helped give freedom on a more specific, but no less significant scale. With that in mind I focus in this post on the family te Kiefte. In the book “Jew Face” much is told of the heroics of Lubertus & Geeske te Kiefte. When we first meet them in the book they had a young son Gerrit, and by the time the story is told they have a baby daughter named Aantje. Regretfully all four have passed from this earth. Gerrit, who was just a young boy during the second World War, died suddenly and tragically in 1968. Antje was taken by cancer early in 2010. Bertus te Kiefte lived to be 81 and left this earth in 1990, and Geeske te Kiefte died in 2003 at the age of 90. (Pictures:Left-Bertus and Geeske te Kiefte with son Gerrit in 1943: Right:Sipora Groen holding Aantje in 1945)
As stated so often, in so many ways and in so many places, the te Keiftes and their descendants have stayed close to the Groen family and their descendants. Both Gerrit and Aantje are survived by their spouses and offspring, and Bertus and Geeske have their one surviving daughter Nina with her husband Harm and their children. Harm honors the Normandy Veterans’ Association on his website http://nvafriends.nl/index.php?cid=11
Understanding the more personal stories of heroics helps us to relate to the enormity of the liberation. We thank all of those who made is possible.
In honor of Bevrijdingsdag, Dutch Liberation Day, you can read the following book review in the Dutch online site FOK.nl. The site provides English translation when opened on Google Chrome.
The small Dutch town of Lemerlerveld was an important location for the Dutch resistance during the second World War. The courage and kindness of the citizens of this town is a symbol of what made the people of Holland great in the midst of some of the greatest evil the world has ever known. On this Bevrijdingsdag, Dutch Liberation Day, we honor this small town and all the good it did for so many people, including my parents, Nardus and Sipora Groen as chronicled in the book Jew Face.