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Nazis Murder Joop Westerweel, 1944

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

On This Day in Jewish History: August 11th, 1944


Joop Westerweel was murdered by the Nazis #onthisday on August 11, 1944. A Righteous Among the Nations - Joop was someone who risked their lives to hide and/or transport Jews to safety during the Holocaust.


Joop was raised a Christain and a pacifist. He made it his goal to help those in need and he had a soft spot for children. After being expelled from the Dutch East Indies for refusing to join the army he became a teacher in a school in Bilthoven.


While in Bilthoven he was exposed to Jewish refugee children who came to Holland as early as the 1930’s trying to escape the Nazi regime. He took some of these children into his home to try and help them. Then, in 1940 he moved to Rotterdam to become principal of a Montessori school. While he was there, a friend introduced him to a group of Jewish pioneers who came to Holland for agricultural training on their way to a budding Israel.


Joop found that their values and inner discipline were similar to his own and decided to help them. When the mass deportations began, he tried to hide these Jews but soon realized that that was not the solution - both because they were oftentimes found and because it was unknown how long this would last.


So, he decided to organize an escape route for them. He realized that if they could get to Spain they could find a ship to Israel. They had to travel through Belgium, France, and Switzerland in order to reach Spain. This was not an easy journey. Although not every trip was successful, Joop and his group were able to smuggle between 150 and 200 Jews to Spain.


Unfortunately, on March 14, 1944 Joop was arrested by the Nazis while he was trying to smuggle out two women and he was sent to the Vught concentration camp. The Nazis tortured him to try to find out who was helping Joop but he refused to tell them. Ultimately, #onthisday Joop Westerweel was executed by the Nazis.


On June 16, 1964 Joop and his wife, Wilhelmina, were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for their efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Text Source: https://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/righteous-teachers/westerweel.asp

Image Source: Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


✍: @rebeccaroth01



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