Dutch couple honoured as Righteous Among the Nations

March 18, 2022 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Embassy of Israel, Yad Vashem and the Queensland Jewish Board of Deputies have honoured Mrs Pietertje Bakker and Mr Hendrik Bakker as Righteous Among the Nations with the presentation of a certicate and medallion by Ambassador Amir Maimon to Mrs. Catharina Wogandt, daughter of Hendrik and Pietertje Bakker.

Frederik Bakker, Ambassador Amir Maimon, Mrs Catharina Wogandt, daughter of Mr Hendrik and Mrs. Piertje Bakker and Mrs Hila Oved, Spokesperson, Embassy of Israel in Australia

The ceremony held at the Brisbane Synagogue honoured the Bakker couple for their efforts to save the Veffer family in the Netherlands during the Holocaust. The Bakkers provided a safe hiding place to the Veffer’s six children during the Nazi raids, and by doing so they not only risked their lives but the lives of their entire family.

In 1945, the Canadian army liberated the Veffers and the whole family moved to Canada in 1946 settling in Toronto. The Bakker family migrated to Victoria in the 1950s  later moving to Queensland in the 1960s.

Ambassador Amir Maimon said: “It is about the choices that we make in life and about the love we have for each other regardless of faith, gender or status. We can only ask ourselves, what if there were only more angels like Pietertje and Hendrik.It is symbolic that we all have gathered today in Brisbane Synagogue on the eve of the Jewish festival of Purim.”

Hartley Stern Veffer, grandson of Veffer’s thinking of his grandparents responded: “We would not have survived without the extraordinary courage, intelligence and selflessness of the Bakker’s. Today’s event allows me to pay my special tributes to the Bakker’s who played a singularly important role to save my family, the help given by Bakker’s in those thousand days of hiding is the reason why the Veffer’s are alive today.”

In the moving ceremony, Mrs Suzi Smeed, a Holocaust Survivor living in Queensland, shared her story and reminded us that there is no place for hate.

Also present were representatives from the Embassies of Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, Malta, Finland as well as members of the Brisbane Jewish community

Yad Vashem takes an integrated approach to education and research, with memorials and inspirational exhibits. Their research helps to verify documents one of humanity’s darkest periods. Their work also recognizes the deeds of the few who risked their own lives, and those of their families, to help those facing such horrors during this period.

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