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How a Facebook Post Found Righteous Gentiles

Aad and Fie Versnel with Renate Bitterman, 1945 (Photo: Courtesy Nadine Wojakovski)

While the onset of social media has caused concerns because of its consumption of time and potential for invasiveness, our hearts are always warmed when it is used for good. Such was the case with the discovery of the Dutch Versnel family, Christians who were found via Facebook and recognized by Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial, for their selfless actions that saved the life of a Jewish baby during WWII:

Seventy-five years and four days after my mother was sent into hiding as a baby in wartime Holland, her rescuers Aad and Fie Versnel were finally posthumously recognized by Yad Vashem as members of that select band, the Righteous Among The Nations.

It has been a long time coming, but had it not been for a Facebook post that miraculously traced the family within just four days, this story might never have been told.

Three years ago I published “Two Prayers Before Bedtime,” a memoir about my grandmother Cilla Bitterman, who sent her daughter (my mother) Renate into hiding during the war.

Lacking documentary records, we estimated that she was forced into hiding at just 19 months old, in the middle of September 1942, exactly 75 years earlier.

The bravery of my grandparents in making the heart-wrenching decision to send their son and daughter to an unknown fate was only possible thanks to those people, living in Nazi-occupied Holland, who were willing to face the utmost risk and sacrifice, endangering their own lives to save another.

100,000 Dutch Jewish men, women and children were rounded up or herded off the streets of Holland into cattle trucks and deported to concentration camps — Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Sobibor and Theresienstadt, where they were brutally and horrifically slaughtered. Only two-sevenths of the 140,000 Dutch Jewish population survived.

As the great 18th century Whig statesman Edmund Burke famously said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing...”

Tags: Advocates and Allies

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