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August 11: Westerweel and Dutch Resistance

August 11, 2014
77485aJoop Westerweel, a school principal who with his wife Wilhelmina led a Dutch resistance group that saved more than 300 young Jews by smuggling them out of Holland, was executed following torture at the Vugt concentration camp on this date in 1944. Wilhelmina, who witnessed his execution, was transferred to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she was subjected to forced labor and contracted a heart disease. She was eventually allowed to go to Sweden as part of a prisoner exchange and returned to Holland after the war. The Westerweels were designated as Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem, and a grove was planted within the Dutch Resistance Park in Israel in 1954.To read about their courage and idealism, visit the website of Yad Vashem. “Westerweel and his wife, Will, were Montessori teachers in Rotterdam whose passionate belief in individual freedom drew an informal group around them... consist[ing] of current and former students, other teachers and colleagues, Jews and non-Jews.... At its peak of activity, the Westerweel Group was involved in arranging escapes from internment camps; finding safe hideouts; operating forgery and printing operations to churn out identification papers and ration cards; and, their most spectacular accomplishment, leading 300 to 400 children from Holland across Nazi-occupied Europe...” —Eva Fogelman, Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust