Bela sends a message to her rescuers’ son as he receives his parents’ Righteous Among the Nations award

September 18, 2019 by Henry Benjamin
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The 90-year-old son of a Dutch couple who hid Jews in their home in Nazi occupied Holland during WWII has received the Righteous Among the Nations award on behalf of his parents.

Gerry Zwart receives the award from Ambassador Mark Sofer

Israel’s ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer travelled to the Queensland town of Nambour on the Sunshine Coast to present the award.

Marinus and Marie Zwart courageously hid Jews in their home in Holland.

The Righteous Among the Nations award is one of the highest honours the State of Israel can bestow and recognizes the immense sacrifice and bravery of those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. It was awarded posthumously to their son.

Marinus Zwart

Maria Zwart

Gerry Zwart was 16 years old at the end of the war and can recall has many stories of Holland under the Nazis.

Now ninety, Gerry  has accepted the award at the ceremony in Nambour.

Marinus and Marie Josepha Zwart (nee Huetink) lived in the Netherlands prior to and during the Second World War, and took in and cared for a Jewish couple, their newborn son and two young Jewish girls, Bela van Praagh and Bea Hartogs. The girls were treated as part of the family by the Zwarts and Bela had a fake ID saying she was a Zwart sibling.

Due to Nazi investigations and suspicions at one point the girls hid under the floorboards for twelve hours while Nazis raided the home. Bela had to be temporarily hidden elsewhere a couple of times due to a Nazi raid and Gerry’s brother Bob being involved in the Resistance. Hiding Jewish citizens was immensely dangerous and therefore is recognized as a great act of selflessness and bravery by Marinus and Marie and their family. Bela survived and remained in touch with the Zwarts after the war and while she is unable to travel from Israel for the ceremony, she has made a video and her son, Lex, will be in attendance to speak on her behalf.

Ambassador Mark Sofer told J-Wire:”It is always moving and poignant to confer such an award on people whose families put their lives at risk to save Jews.This event was no different. We cannot, must not and will not ever forget their selfless heroism and bravery.”

Bela’s video

 

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