Wartime Dutch Couple Who Saved Jewish Boy From Nazis Honored by Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial
An Australian school teacher on Thursday collected a “Righteous Among the Nations” award from Israel’s national Holocaust memorial on behalf of her Dutch grandparents, who protected a two-year-old Jewish child from the Nazis by passing him off as their own.
Ingrid Bradford — a teacher from the Australian city of Brisbane — received the award in a virtual ceremony on Thursday evening hosted by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
Bradford’s late grandparents — Klaasje van der Haar and her husband Jacob — cared for the infant boy, Joseph Gokkes, alongside their own children for more than three years in the Dutch city of Hoogeveen.
Following the defeat of the Nazis, Joseph was safely reunited with his parents, Gila and Benjamin.
Also participating in the ceremony were the daughter of Joseph Gokkes, Inbal, and her mother, Shifra, who live in Israel.
Bradford said that the family had been overwhelmed by the recognition of their grandparents’ heroism.
“I don’t think I can explain how much it means to us as a family,” she said. “We all tear up when we talk about it, and the realization of what Oma and Opa did during that time, the risk they took.”
“If you were in their shoes, what would you have done? What they did was such a big risk and obviously shows their kindness, their empathy for these people,” Bradford added.