After the ‘Kristallnacht’ (Night of the Broken Glass) on 9-10 November 1938, the first large scale Nazi-pogrom in Nazi-Germany when 100 ‘Jews’ were murdered, 1200 synagogues were burned or destroyed, and thousands of ‘Jewish’ shops were smashed, auntie Truus and her ladyfriends decided to help those in need. Among those helped are some well-known names, such as British film director Karel Reisz and American sex educator Dr Ruth.
Two weeks after the Kristallnacht, auntie Truus traveled from Amsterdam to Vienna to meet with the devil’s personal assistant and administrator of the Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann. At first he wouldn’t receive her, but she pressed on and managed to get five minutes. To get rid of her, Eichmann told her she could take 600 Jewish children, provided she managed to get them out of Austria within five days, speculating she couldn’t do it. The children came to the train station in time and were brought to Holland, where the ferry to safe and free England awaited them. That was only the first of many Kindertransporte that would run until september 1939, when war broke out on continental Europe and borders closed.
In total, auntie Truus and her friends, such as Berlin rabbi’s wife Recha Freier, founder of the Youth Aliya, got 10,000 children out of Nazi-Germany and Nazi-Austria.
The year 2018 is also the 40th remembrance of the death of auntie Truus. Despite her enormous achievements, she is scantily known in Holland and neither included in Dutch school books nor in the Dutch official history canon and hardly has any Dutch streets named after her. Her birthplace, the old city of Alkmaar, does not even have any reminder of her. Zero…
Auntie Truus helped people in their greatest need, no matter what the cost, who they were or where they came from. So did thousands of other Dutch women and men. The Netherlands is the country that proportionally saved the most Jews during WW II and received by great length the most Israeli awards per capita from Yad Vashem – 5,669and counting. In other words: 1 in 1600 Dutch has received the ‘Righteous among the People’ award from Yad Vashem, the official Isreali Holocaust documentation center.
Dutch anti-fascists’ spokesperson and remembrance organiser Arthur Graaff’s father and two of his uncles, ministers, received the award as did of course auntie Truus. So we should all follow her example, especially a man named Donald Trump.
The call for remembrance has also been sent to the mayor, aldermen and alderwomen and city council of Vienna, the Vienna Jewish community and the Jewish Museum in Vienna. The same call has been sent to auntie Truus’ birth town of Alkmaar. A proposal has been sent to organize a statue for auntie Truus in Vienna.