Tag Archives: Nardus and Sipora Groen

How being the son of Holocaust survivors made me who I am

Yom HaShoah

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we approach Yom HaShoah and remember the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, I can’t help but think about how being the son of 2 survivors helped make me into the person I am today.

In comparison to so many, I am a very lucky man.  I enjoyed having both my parents around till I was 45 when my 87 year old father passed away almost 8 years ago, and still have the blessing of a wonderful relationship with my remarkable 93 year old mother. Although they experienced their own brand of hell between 1940-1945 in Holland, they were fortunate enough that it did not reach a level that prevented them from moving forward and enjoying their life after the war.  Even with that said, the experiences of my parents made them who they are, which subsequently made me who I am, both for good and for bad.  But more significantly as I write this today, a day in which we remember those who did not survive, the deep emotions transferred to me and my siblings impacted every one of us.

Even when I was more moderate than I am today, I’ve never had tolerance for anything that resembled a lack of respect for Jewish life.  Of course as a normal human being I value all life, but I am always on the alert for any indication that the Jewish people are being attacked.  I won’t listen to Pink Floyd or Bryan Adams anymore.  I don’t like Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs merely because he once did the quenelle, a modern-day reverse Nazi salute in France, in a picture with a well-known anti-Semite even though he insisted he didn’t mean it to be anti-Semitic, and I almost got into a fight with someone at work who did the Nazi salute because he thought he was being funny.  He said he didn’t realize what it meant till his girlfriend told him later in the day.  That didn’t stop me from standing in his face and saying “never do that S#%#%t in front of me again.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I make no claims to be a tough guy, but my Dad of Blessed Memory was as tough as anyone, and my mother is one of the strongest people I’ve ever known.  I was raised by strong people who brought me up to be proud to be Jewish, and most relevant in this discussion, they always honored the 6 million.  As long as I can remember and as long as I was able to have a conversation I always knew about the 6 million Jews murdered by Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany.  And I have always tried my personal best to honor them.

Never Again, a phrase that often stems from or leads to political discussion may be 2 of the most important words in my life, as I am sure it is to many reading this as well.  However today is not about politics, it is about remembrance and honor. Something I learned from my parents, and thank them for from the bottom of my heart, for in the process they made me a better person, one that often stops and realizes the Jewish souls once sacrificed, and the importance of never forgetting them.

 

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A 92 Year Old Survivor’s Perspective

dutch flagIT IS MY GREAT HONOR TO POST THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH WRITTEN BY MY MOTHER SIPORA GROEN

My heart goes out to the Dutch people.  It is a country who did so much for people in World War II.  As a survivor of the Holocaust and born in Amsterdam and saved by Dutch people they are the last who deserve such heartbreak.

Sipora Groen


A Descendant’s Pride

baby

When I first came up with the idea for this post my intention was to title it “My pride as a son”.  To be a little less self-centered I was going to change it to “A son’s pride”, after all I am not my mother’s only son.  But then I had to consider any daughter involved, and I was all ready to change it to “A child’s pride”.  But as the series of events unfolded just a few days ago, and I was blessed with my 9th Great Nephew/Niece, which subsequently means the mother I am referring to was blessed with her 9th Great Grandchild, I realized that limiting it just wouldn’t do it justice.  Henceforth, 2 days after the birth of the newest descendant of my mother Sipora Groen and my late father Nardus Groen, and as my mother gets ready to share her story before a crowd of people, I present you with this small but hopefully meaningful piece.

Knowing my mother as I do, I know that at no point as my mother sat holding her oldest son Marcel in her arms soon after his birth, did she ever dream that one day she would experience a 9th Great Grandchild.    But as one person wrote when reviewing the book “Jew Face” in speaking about my parents,   “Not only did they survive but they reinvented themselves and contributed greatly to post Shoah Jewish life”.

All of us, be it a son, daughter, grandchild, great grandchild or even long lost cousin, take great pride in where we come from and who we have close within our inner circle.  God willing, this beautiful little baby girl born just a few days ago will feel this same sense of pride and connection to the great sacrifices and strength shown by her ancestors, manifest so wonderfully in a 92 year old woman, my mother Sipora Groen, with an amazing desire and determination to let the world know her story.

Sometimes all you need to do to have pride is to look and to listen.

 

 


Do You Own the Book?

9781468573909_COVER.indd

The original purpose of Holland’s Heroes was to make people aware of the book “Jew Face: A story of love and heroism in Nazi-occupied Holland”.   The website has developed into a place designed to increase Holocaust awareness, address important issues of the day, and show the connection between the past and the present.

If you appreciate my writing, feel a connection to the Jewish people, or both, I urge you to read the book “Jew Face”.  Here is why.  In this book, the story of the experiences of my parents, Nardus and Sipora Groen in Holland between 1940-1945, I make every effort to convey a larger picture than that of what they experienced.  I was always taken by Steven Spielberg’s style in movies about eras in history.  In Amistad he tells the story of one trial as a basis to convey his take on slavery in America.  In Schlinder’s List he tells the story of Oscar Schindler as a basis to tell the story of the Holocaust.  What I attempt to do in the book “Jew Face” is use the story of my parents as a basis to tell the story of the Holocaust, specifically the story of what took place in Holland.

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What sets this book aside from many other Holocaust related stories is the positive and inspirational feeling one gets from reading about the strength and courage of a number of people, starting with my parents.  This book is without question a love story of two people who came together during the worst of times.   I am proud to say that my writing reveals the great love and respect I have for both my parents, my father of blessed memory who passed away on June 13, 2007, and my mother, who at 92 is Thank God, alive well, and someone who still provides love and support to so many, including me.

Are you inspired by courage and decency?  This book is for you.  Are you a romantic?  This book is for you.  Are you into history? This book is for you.  Are you Jewish?  This book is for you.  Are you reading this post? This book is for you.

I want people to know this story, and I can say with complete confidence that those who already have read it have been inspired and moved by the experiences of the people in the book.  If you like my writing style, thank you.  However the greatness of the book is in the people I was so honored to write about and would love to share with all of you.

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Generations of Love and Family

generationsAs many of you reading this already know, the 
book Jew Face is the story of my parents 
journeys and survival during the Nazi 
occupation of Holland between 1940-1945.  
There are many reasons this story is 
important.  Some are general for a large 
group of people, while others are more 
pertinent to the individuals in the story.  
The most significant being the impact it has 
on all the family members involved and the 
generations that have followed.

My parents, Nardus and Sipora Groen, started a 
new world with the birth of their first son, 
and my oldest brother Marcel.  He would be 
followed by Leo, Ruben, my one sister Debby, 
and then me.  Between the children my parents 
would get 12 grandchildren, and as it stands now, 
8 great grandchildren.  It should be noted that the 8 great grandchildren 
come from only 3 of the grandchildren, the 3 oldest children of Marcel and 
his wife Bernice, so there is still plenty of opportunity for the remaining 
grandchildren to add to that number.  It is a story of survival in the 
greatest sense.  A world almost destroyed now stands at over 30 people and 
growing, and that is without counting extended family.

The reason for this post today is because some events and family 
members represent the glory and greatness that is the survival of a 
family.  This weekend my nephew Justin and his fiance Kim will be 
married.  Justin, who is the youngest of Marcel and Bernice's children 
is one of those people who is loved and respected by those who know him,
and has the great ability to show that love and respect in return on a 
regular basis.  Nothing symbolizes it more than the relationship he had 
with his "Opa" and still has with his "Oma".  Opa and Oma are the Dutch 
words for grandfather and grandmother and in this case represent my 
parents, Nardus and Sipora Groen.  I still remember when my father had 
his heart attack about 15 years ago on the 7th day of Passover, and 
walking up and finding Justin holding him in his arms in the back of a 
police car right outside Beth Shalom synagogue in Elkins Park, Pa. 
until the ambulance arrived.  Their relationship would always be 
close and even though my father passed away close to 6 years ago, 
Justin still wears the pin he gave him on the lapel of his suit in 
synagogue and intends to use his Opa's Talit (prayer shawl) at his 
upcoming wedding.   His relationship with his Oma may be even more 
special.  This is a relationship of mutual affection and respect rarely 
seen between 2 people separated by 58 years, be it relatives or not.  
They not only love and respect each other but they enjoy each other's
company in a very special way, and as a son and a uncle it always warms 
my heart to see.

As I write this piece, a few days prior to the wedding, the best news 
of all may be that Justin is marrying a woman with the same wonderful 
qualities he possesses and someone with the same values of goodness and 
love for family and friends we wish everyone possessed.

As Kim joins the family this weekend the family grows and the 
significance of what was saved so many years ago becomes even more 
significant and beautiful.  It is said that when you save one person 
you save an entire world.  As I write this I have joy in my heart for 
the world of my parents that was saved, and the world that it has 
become with the generations to follow.

Europe 1940 to Euro 2012

Whenever possible, Holland’s Heroes attempts to take current events and link it to the story in Jew Face.  Sometimes it is an obvious connection, sometimes it is a stretch requiring imagination, and occasionally it is a connection that in its insignificance is mildly entertaining and sometimes even funny or ironic.  This particular post falls into that last category.

Over the next 5 days the champion for Euro 2012 International Football(soccer) tournament will be crowned.  The semifinal matches are as follows.  Today, Spain against Portugal.  Tomorrow, Germany against Italy.

The book Jew Face is the story of my parents Nardus and Sipora Groen, primarily surrounding the events taking place between 1940-1945.  My mother’s maiden name was Rodrigues-Lopes.  A Dutch Jew from Spanish-Portuguese descent, my mother spent 5 years either hiding or running from the Nazi killing machine with the help of my father Nardus Groen.  This book chronicles the events that took place as they lived through the time when Germany occupied Holland.  One of Germany’s allies during World War II; Italy.

I think the irony is obvious.  The not so obvious question, seeing as these countries are very different countries today is, who would I like to see win this thing.  I will keep that answer to myself.  At least for today.


Publisher’s review of “Jew Face”

The following is a review of the book Jew Face written by the publisher of the book around the time of Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Although the day has passed, since it is appropriate to remember the Holocaust on any day, I am posting this now.  This review gives another account of the book.  I look forward to hearing more reviews and opinions on the book.

 

The Physical Appearance of a Jew was Often Obvious and Very Distinctive: David Groen

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will lead the country in commemorating Days of Remembrance this week. This year’s theme is Choosing to Act: Stories of Rescue. AuthorHouse has chosen to act by recording and preserving survivor legacies for future generations so nothing like the Holocaust ever happens again. AuthorHouse features a survivor’s story every day this week.

David Groen is the fourth of our featured AuthorHouse authors during National Holocaust Remembrance Week. He has lovingly recorded his parents’, Nardus and Sipora Groen’s, story as a legacy for future generations in his book, Jew Face.

David Groen is Nardus and Sipora’s youngest child. He has finally realized his passion of sharing and immortalizing his parents’ love story; a love story that survived seemingly insurmountable odds. He combines this passion with his extensive knowledge of Jewish history, his parents’ stories and facts and information gathered from interviews with numerous subjects included in the book. Add his own, unique storytelling style and Groen has created an “important documentation of critical historical events.”

Groen’s parents’ story takes place in Nazi occupied Holland, where “only a small percentage of Dutch Jews survived the systematic annihilation.” His father rebelled against his country’s invaders as a part of the resistance while his mother was forced to “exhibit an almost unimaginable courage” in escaping detection by the Nazis due to her “innocent beauty and Jewish-looking face.”

“Together, and with the help of many special people, including a couple whose righteousness reached the highest level one can imagine, they have lived to tell their story.” And AuthorHouse thanks David Groen for recording that story as his parents’ testimony and lesson to future generations to never let anything like the Holocaust ever happen again.