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Yad Vashem confers honourary title on former resistance activists

Posthumous recognition for two Dutch immigrant couples

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HAMILTON, Ontario - The families of Lucas Koops and Hendrik Veenstra recently received the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem organization of Israel for their late parents who shielded Jewish children from the Nazis during the occupation of the Netherlands over fifty years ago. The title includes a listing on the Righteous Honor Wall at the Yad Vashem centre in Jerusalem.

The requests to honour Lucas and Aleida Drent Koops and Hendrik and Theresa Veenstra were made by the individuals they cared for at the time. Mrs. Miriam Berger Shoshani who now lives in Israel, was hiding with the Koops family from 1942 to 1945, disguised as a nanny for the couple's four children. The Koops family also hid two other Jews in their home in Zaandam, a town north of Amsterdam. After immigrating to Canada, Mr. Koops established Koops Travel, a firm which since has gotten new owners and a new name.

Survivor Philip Plas arrived at the Veenstra home in Kootstertille as a sickly child. He was nursed back to health by Theresa Veenstra whose husband was deeply involved in the resistance work and mostly away from home. Along with others in the village, the Veenstra home frequently was raided by the Nazis who suspected that the residents there were involved in 'illegal' activities. Plas who resides in the Netherlands and has kept in touch with the Veenstras was never discovered during the raids. Plas and several others traveled from the Netherlands to be present for the award ceremony.

The Koops and Veenstra posthumous conferrals are added to an increasing list of Dutch immigrant families in Canada who have received the Yad Vashem recognition.

The Yad Vashem commission which awards the title, documents the circumstances for authenticity, including the motivation of the rescuers, before a decision is made. To date, there are over 16,000 people who have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, involving 7,500 rescue cases.