ILLINOIS (JNS) – The Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest hosted a “Righteous Among the Nations” ceremony last week to recognize a father and daughter who saved the lives of six Jews in the Netherlands during the Holocaust.
Family members of Hans Boersma and his daughter, Grietja, both of whom have since passed away, came in from across the United States for the momentous event, which was held at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Ill., just outside of Chicago.
People who are designated as “Righteous Among the Nations,” are internationally recognized by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem for protecting Jews from the Nazis while risking their lives.
“In Jewish tradition, it is said that when a person saves one life, it is as if he or she has saved the whole world. Hans Boerma and his daughter Grietje Boersma risked their own survival to save the world—six times over,” said Consul General of Israel to the Midwest Yinam Cohen.
According to Yad Vashem, after the Germans invaded Holland in 1940, a Protestant female reverend asked Boerma, 73, to hide some Jews on his property. He agreed to take in two little boys, Ronnie Samuel and Eric Flesseman. He also hid a married couple, Benjamin Wolf and Nanny De Jongh, and two girls were hidden by Grietje.
From 1943 until 1945, the two Dutch citizens cared for the Jews on their remote farm. Hans Boerma died in 1951 at the age of 83, while Grietje passed away in 1975 at age 72.
Accepting the medal and certificate of honor on behalf of the Yad Vashem commission for designation of the Righteous and the State of Israel, was Hans Boerma’s grandson, Sam Heeringa.
“Faith let him (my grandfather) do what he did. We can all emulate his efforts in showing humanity in how we treat people and I hope we all go through our daily lives do just that,” Heeringa said in his remarks.