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Dutch Holocaust Rescuers Get Digital Archive

The government of the Netherlands and Yad Vashem have agreed to digitally archive documents connected to Dutch rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.

The documents will be scanned by Yad Vashem – Israel’s Holocaust commemoration authority – over the coming two years, Yad Vashem deputy spokesperson Yifat Bachrach-Ron told JTA.

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and Caspar Veldkamp, the Dutch ambassador to Israel, signed the agreement on starting the process Monday at Yad Vashem.

So far, Yad Vashem has recognized 5,204 Dutch residents as Righteous among the Nations – its title for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews. It is the highest figure of any Western European nation and second highest in total. Poland tops the list with 6,339 righteous gentiles.

During preparations of documents connected to Dutch recipients of the title, Yad Vashem researchers discovered the last known letter of resistance fighter Hein Sietsma, who, along with his fiancee, Berendina (Diet) Eman, helped save dozens of Jews in The Hague before being caught and murdered in Dachau concentration camp.

Siesma and Eman were recognized as Righteous among the Nations many years ago but their file contained a small envelope which had not been opened.

In it was a letter Siesma managed to send to his fiancee, folded into a one-centimeter package. “Even if we never meet each other again on this earth, we will never be sorry for what we did,” it read. “We will never regret that we took this stand, and know, Diet, that of every human being in the world, I loved you the most.”

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