Suzanne Fields

As a young woman, Johtje had gone to Paris, a free spirit to be a free-lance writer, but returned to Holland where she wanted to have her children. She is interviewed in a book titled "Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust" by Gay Block and Malka Drucker, where she insists there was nothing heroic about what she and her husband did. All the more reason to honor them. Danger for them began when they agreed to keep a suitcase of valuables for a friend forced to relocate to a ghetto. Then they were asked to hide a child, then a couple. Parents of a girl, age 3, the same age as their youngest daughter, sent their little daughter to the Voses just before they were picked up by the Nazis and sent to their death. The Voses cherished her as their own.

"More and more people came to hide in our house," she said. "We had mattresses all over the floor, and they had to be camouflaged in case the [Nazis] came. The Germans came many times looking for Jews."

She has been reluctant to talk about what she did because it didn't seem special to her. "I don't feel righteous," she said. "If someone heard us talk today with some of those we saved, they would think we were being nostalgic, remembering a beautiful time. But there was something beautiful in it, because we were standing together, for whatever reason, totally together."

Bravery is measured in acts both small and large. "By defending Jews, you are defending everyone in a minority," President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said last week in remarks to the American Jewish Committee in Washington. "Whoever saves a single life," says the Talmud, "is as one who has saved an entire world." By recalling Kristallnacht, the fall of the Wall and the courage of those like the Voses, we identify the worst and the best of humanity. We show our enduring respect for civilization through remembrance.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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