Israel recently recognized as Righteous Among the Nations a couple of Dutch Christian Zionists who died as a result of their constant efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust.
Israel’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Haim Divon, will give a medal affirming the honor, which is given by Israel through the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, on August 24 to Maya Schipper, a granddaughter of Johanna Engelberta Schipper-Kuiper and her husband, Klaas Abe Schipper.
Meijer van der Sluis and Samuel Segal, two of the dozens of Jews saved due to the actions of the couple and the members of their underground network, will also be present at the ceremony in Oosthuizen.
From 1943 to 1945, the Schippers, a couple made up of a pastor and his wife from Schardam, which is near Amsterdam, faced between the two of them a total of at least four house searches by German Nazis and Nazi collaborators. During one search, they managed to escape capture by hiding several Jews in secret hideouts in both their home and in adjacent buildings. One of the Jews, Ruth Lilienthal, hid herself in a closet as Nazi troops looked for her. Lilienthal ultimately died in 2001.
Klaas Abe was arrested twice, for a few months at a time. His health severely worsened, and he died in 1949 at age of 42 as a result of the abuse. Before the war, Klaas Abe held meetings to object to anti-Semitism, which he thought was a sin against God’s “chosen people.” When the Nazis questioned Klaas Abe, he explained his religious motives, but did not reveal any concrete information.
While Klaas Abe was arrested and possibly tortured, Johanna spent her time traveling between two safe houses with two Jewish children and her own son. Johanna’s family, which was wholeheartedly Zionist, was very involved in her rescue operation. Johanna smuggled one of the Jewish children, whom she later adopted, out of a Nazi-run detention center. Despite the fact that she was a wanted person, she arrived at the Amsterdam facility, engaged the guards, and talked her way in, possibly due to her excellent German.
In 1956, Johanna died at the age of 59 from an infection that started in a wound she got in a vehicular accident as she was bringing fake passports to Jews. The injury in her leg never fully healed, partially due to the fact that her responsibilities towards the Jews she sheltered impeded her ability to rest after receiving the injury.