Tag Archives: Jan Van de Berg

Holland’s Heroes

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In the 7 years since I started the website Holland’s Heroes this will be the first time I have chosen to use the name of the website as a title for a post.  Why now?  It’s because in light of recent events it has become clear to me that I am in a family that has had the benefit of the actions of some remarkable and righteous Dutch people. People who clearly are Holland’s Heroes.

Although time and the world’s natural order of things has caused the number of Holocaust survivors to steadily diminish, in many cases, even if the survivors are no longer here, there are still the families remaining of these survivors.  Many of these families only exist today because of the righteous and heroic actions of people that endangered themselves and the lives of their families in order to save those they descended from.  It’s been my experience that anyone who  knows of a hero or family that did something to help save the life, offer support or preserve the memory of someone in their family  feels tremendously blessed and grateful that these heroes were there for their ancestors in the worst of times.  So imagine how blessed I feel to be able to tell you of 3 families that had such an impact on my family.

Ranking the actions of great people is something that would potentially diminish how special their actions were, so I’ve determined that the most fair order in which to mention these people is in the order in which I learned of them in my lifetime.

Lubertus & Geeske te Kiefte

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Since the time I began telling the story of my parents’ survival of the Holocaust I’ve also been telling the story of the te Kieftes.  That’s also because since the time I was old enough to know anything about my family I knew about the people we lovingly refer to as Oom Bertus and Tante Geesje.  In Nazi-occupied Holland, going from contact to contact established through the resistance, my father would ultimately help my mother find the place she would spend the last 16 months of the war.  Here she would be treated like a member of the family while more importantly she would be protected from the Nazis.  Oom Bertus, a builder, would build her a special secret room under his workplace where she would sleep, hidden from Nazi soldiers in the event of a surprise raid.  Other than one man, the entire town of Lemerlerveld would be on board with the te Kieftes in making sure this young, very Jewish looking woman would remain safe.  The one man in question would have it made very clear by Bertus and other active members of the resistance what would happen to him should something happen to their Jewish guest.  Post war the relationship between our families has been like family, and I can say without  pause that even without the actions of Bertus and Geeske this family is as special a group of people as any I have ever known.

Jan Van den Berg

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The best friend of my grandfather Marcel Rodrigues, Jan Van den Berg had more opportunities to prove this friendship than most would ever expect.  The depth of his friendship went beyond his relationship with my grandfather, as he would be there for his friend’s daughter, my mother Sipora, any time it was needed.  As my mother was preparing to escape Amsterdam with my father, an escape as dangerous as any one could ever imagine, their one and only welcomed stop was in the Van den Berg home.  This was because this was the last true safe place they could rest and get some nourishment before their trip.  As time would bare out, Oom Jan as we knew him, would not only never say no to his best friend’s daughter, he would go above and beyond in ways one should never forget.  When the war ended and Sipora would return to Amsterdam, had it not been for the emotional and practical assistance of the Van den Berg’s, she might not have survived the post-war travails.  Returning to Amsterdam pregnant where she would later give birth to her oldest son Marcel, Sipora would take ill only months into her young child’s life.  Suspected of contracting Tuberculosis, later to be confirmed as Pleurisy, Sipora would be put into quarantine.  Unable to care for her child, Oom Jan and Tante Toos would care for Marcel while Sipora was in quarantine.  He would be cared for as one of their own.  My brother Marcel and sister-in-law Bernice would name their oldest daughter Jennifer, the “J” being in honor of Oom Jan.  On July 21st of this year I had the great pleasure and honor of meeting their great grandson Jelmer and his family on my trip to Holland.

Johnny de Haan

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Besides being something incredibly special for my family, recent events are also a lesson for anyone whose family survived the Holocaust.  Not everyone and not everything has been revealed or discovered.  We tend to think that all the stories have been told and that there is very little new and important information we can share with the world.  Besides being factually inaccurate, in today’s global climate it has become even more important to continue to share these important stories.  Naturally I tell this story with personal bias, but I can also tell you that in sharing it with people of all ages and all walks of life, I have found that the one word most often used when responding to the story, is “Wow”.

With the Nazis occupying and controlling Amsterdam, in the summer of 1943 my grandfather Marcel Rodrigues and my uncle Bram Rodrigues chose to make an attempt to escape to Switzerland.  Before they left Bram went to his close friend and band mate Johnny de Haan to ask him to look after his violin till he returned home.  As was the case with 6 million European Jews, my Oom Bram never returned.  However, Johnny de Haan safeguarded the violin till his death 7 years ago. When he passed away his son Wim, understanding the importance the violin always had to his father,  continued what his father had started.  Until a recent examination of his father’s diary and subsequently finding more information online because of the book Jew Face, Wim, who till now thought Bram left no living relatives, would find me.  Upon making this discovery he contact me and we would set up the July 21st event in which he gave the violin to me and my siblings.  The rest as they say, is history.

But is’t not JUST history.  It’s present day as well.  Wim gave value to the violin, a desire to return it to the family of his father’s friend, and a warmth and friendship that has drawn a connection to the friendship taken away from 2 young men 76 years ago.  Wim’s mother, an unsung hero in this story, and someone I had the honor to meet, would dust off the violin on a regular basis.  All of this is why I say this is more than the actions of one good man.  It is a family that helped keep the memory alive and is directly responsible for creating the legacy for one of the 6 million murdered souls of the Holocaust.  That soul belongs to my uncle, Bram Rodrigues.

We live in a day and age where negativity sells, so if the positive nature of this post doesn’t appeal to you that is you personal choice.  But I urge you all to realize that in telling these stories we not only help keep the story alive, but maybe we bring more stories such as these to the surface.  We must not only never forget, but we must always continue to remind the rest of the world.

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Complete List of Names in “Jew Face”

This page is a listing of every name mentioned in the book “Jew Face:A story of love and heroism in Nazi-occupied Holland.”

The book is the story of Nardus and Sipora Groen.  They are the first 2 names mentioned in the book.  The following is a listing of every other name mentioned in the book.

1-Leendert Groen – father of Nardus

2-Maryan Groen -Zeelander-mother of Nardus

3-Meyer Groen -brother of Nardus

4-David Groen -brother of Nardus

5-Sofia Groen -sister of Nardus

6-Elizabeth Groen -sister of Nardus

7-Meyer Roos -librarian in Jewish ghetto(unconfirmed first name)

8-Becca Roos -librarian in Jewish ghetto(unconfirmed first name)

9-Marcel Rodrigues -Lopes-father of Sipora

10-Deborah Rodrigues-Lopes -mother of Sipora

11-Abraham(Bram) Rodrigues-Lopes -brother of Sipora

12-Emmy -housekeeper in Sipora’s house

13-Hans de Jong -fiance of Sipora

14-Hetty de Jong -sister of Hans

15-Neville Chamberlain -British Prime Minister

16-Jacques Baruch -Brother in law of Nardus (married to Sofia) and Active member of Dutch and later French resistance

17-Dirk Jan de Geer -Dutch Prime Minister

18-Queen Wilhelmina -Queen of the Netherlands

19-Pieter Gerbrandy -Dutch Prime Minister

20- Arthur Seyss-Inquart -Austrian born  Nazi  leader. Top official in the Netherlands

21-Adolph Hitler -Head of Nazi party

22-Benito Mussolini -fascist ruler of Italy

23- Francisco Franco -fascist leader of Spain

24- Anton Mussert Head of Dutch fascist party (NSB)

25- David Van Hasselt -cousin of Sipora

26-Aaron Mozes -brother in law of Nardus. (Married to Elizabeth)

27-Ferdinand aus der Funten -Nazi administrator in Amsterdam

28-Sam Abram -friend of Nardus

29- Nettie Abram -sister of Sam Abram

30-Block -Dutch Nazi informant (first name unconfirmed)

31-Cornelius Gugjes -Alias of Nardus

32-Jan Coopman -Underground contact (unconfirmed name)

33- Roe Groen -sister in law of Nardus (married to Meyer)

34- Martha Groen -sister in law of Nardus (married to David)

35- Thea -niece of Nardus (daughter of David & Martha)

36- Lilly -friend of Sipora

37- Jan Van de Berg -best friend of Marcel Rodrigues-Lopes

38- Reina Van Creveld -friend of Nardus and Directress of NIZ (Hospital)

39- Schapman -Black marketeer in Zwolle

40- Jan Henraat -Alias of Nardus

41- Joop Van de Berg -farmer near Zwolle (unconfirmed first name)

42- Jan Boekman -owner of boat where Sipora worked and found shelter (unconfirmed name)

43- Spegt -alias of high level operative in Dutch resistance (real name believed to be Stoker)

44-Minister Vogelaar – Religious leader from Lemerlerveld

45-Kruithof -Resistance operative who provided shelter to Sipora

46- Den Olde -Young couple that provided shelter to Sipora

47-Tinie -Alias of Sipora

48-Albert Jan Immink -high level Resistance operative

49-Jansje Immink -wife of Albert Jan

50-Lubertus te Kiefte -high level resistance operative. Provided shelter to Sipora

51-Geeske te Kiefte -wife of Lubertus. Provided shelter to Sipora

52-Gerrit te Kiefte -Son of Lubertus and Geeske

53-Jan te Kiefte -brother of Lubertus

54-Tina te Kiefte -wife of Jan te Kiefte

55-Gerrit Jan te Kiefte -son of Jan and Tina

56-Lies te Kiefte -daughter of Jan and Tina

57-Aaltje te Kiefte -daughter of Jan and Tina

58-Carly -Jewish boy in hiding at home of Jan and Tina

59-Kryn Hoogeboom -mobile supermarket owner in Lemerlerveld

60-Minister Keres -religious leader in Lemerlerveld

61-Schapman -NSB (Dutch fascist party) member in Lemerlerveld (unconfirmed first name)

62-Oosterwegel -high level resistance operative in Lemerlerveld (unconfirmed first name)

63- Aunt Anna- relative of Lubertus and Geeske and mobile nurse in Lemerlerveld

64-Aantje te Kiefte -daughter of Lubertus and Geeske

65-Johann Baptist Albin Rauter -top Nazi SS leader in the Netherlands

66-Joop -nephew of Lubertus and Geeske (unconfirmed last name)

67-Marcel Lubertus Groen -son of Nardus and Sipora

68-Rabbi Tal -Chief Rabbi of Holland after the war

69-Leo Groen -son of Nardus and Sipora

70-Bernice Groen -wife of Marcel Groen

71-Ruben Groen -son of Nardus and Sipora

72-Professor Jacob Marcus -high level Director at Hebrew Union College and religious leader in Cincinnati

73-Rabbi Eleizer Silver -Head of Agudah North America, Orthodox Rabbi and religious leader in Cincinnati

74-Rabbi Goldfeder -religious leader and Conservative Rabbi in Cincinnati

75-Deborah Miriam Groen -daughter of Nardus and Sipora

76- David Groen -son of Nardus and Sipora