Yad Vashem bows to Dutch survivors, honors righteous gentilesBy Cnaan Liphshiz, Haaretz Correspondent
15 July 2009
Following angry reactions by Dutch Holocaust survivors and their saviors, Yad Vashem last week agreed to reverse its refusal to honor two couples that saved the lives of converted [Jews] in the Holocaust.
In April Dutch recipients of Yad Vashem's highest honor threatened to return the title to protest "discrimination" against saviors of ex-Jews, in a petition cosigned by 230 people, including leaders of Holland's Jewish community.
The bone of contention revolved around Yad Vashem's refusal to award two families, the Hollebrands and the Eggings, with the title of Righteous among the Nations, reserved for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews in the Holocaust.
"The Commission decided this past week to recognize the Hollebrands and the Eggings as Righteous Among the Nations," Chairman of Yad Vashem's directorate, Aver Shalev, wrote last week to the petition's organizers, Charles Boissevain Leidschendam, Maarten Eliasar and Dick Verkijk.
Shalev said the decision came after "the recent uncovering of new information."
Before the protest, Yad Vashem's Commission for the Recognition of the Righteous among the Nations determined the couples were ineligible for the title because the children that they hid weren't Jewish.
The Nazis later caught and murdered the Sanders children, who had been converted to Christianity before World War II by their parents.
The 230 petitioners wrote in April: "Yad Vashem's discrimination ... is unacceptable. They [the Sanders] shared the same fate [as Jews] and should be treated accordingly." They added that some title recipients were so "distressed" that they are considering returning their award.
The petition that you sent to Mrs. Irena Steinfeldt on April 21st has of course received our serious and thorough attention.
In his letter, Shalev said that "it is groundless to assert that the Commission denies per se recognition for Righteous status to persons who rescued Jewish converts to Christianity."