Dutch Citizens awarded Righteous Among the Nations For Hiding Jews During WWII

Kamphuis-Vink and Lowenstein, honoured by the Israeli Committee for the Designation of the Righteous at a ceremony held at Yad Vashem. Source: Yad Vashem

Two members of a Dutch family, Jan Willem Kamphuis and his daughter Klazenia Kamphuis-Vink, have been posthumously honoured by the Israeli Committee for the Designation of the Righteous at a ceremony held at Yad Vashem, in the past week. The couple has been designated as Righteous Among the Nations for saving the lives of Henny and Manfred Loewenstein during WWII.

Anthonie Vink, the son of Klazenia Kamphuis-Vink and grandson of Jan Willem Kamphuis collected the award on behalf of his grandfather and aunt. The ceremony was held in the presence of Dr James Lowenstein, son of Henny and Manfred Lowenstein, the Chairman of the Committee for the Designation of the Righteous, retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, friends, family, and a representative from the Dutch Embassy.

Henny Loewenstein, nee Dünner, was born in 1918, to Rabbi Dr Eliezer Dünner and his wife, in Cologne Germany. Henny and her siblings attended the local Jewish Yavne School until her parents sent their children to stay in Amsterdam to escape the rise to power of the Nazis in Germany.

In 1939, Rabbi Dr Dünner and his wife followed their children to Holland only to face their daughter being arrested and taken to Hollandsche Schouwburg, a theatre used by the authorities as an assembly point for Jews before deportation. Having experience with children, Henny was sent to care for the children in an adjacent building before they were deported. She was lucky enough to escape from the children’s building with her husband-to-be, Manfred Kurt Loewenstein.

Righteous Among the Nations medal. Source: Ezer58 / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0
Righteous Among the Nations medal. Source: Ezer58 / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

The couple were taken in and hidden in Driebrergen, near Utrecht, in the home of Jan Willem Kamphuis and his daughter Klazenia. For eight months Henny and Manfred hid in the Kamphuis’s attic, staying inside all the time and only creeping out to hide in the nearby woods when danger threatened.

Unfortunately in February 1944, the suspicion of the Kamphuis’s Dutch Nazi Party neighbours forced them to seek the assistance of the Dutch Resistance, who moved them to another hiding place, where they were successfully hidden until the end of the war. While in hiding, Henny gave birth to James, their eldest son.

While Henny and Manfred were being hidden, her family, Rabbi Dr Eliezer Dünner along with his wife and children, were deported to Bergen-Belsen. One of Henny’s sisters, Ruth, was sent to Auschwitz where she lost her life. Dr Dunner and the family with him at Bergen-Belsen were exchanged for German Templar prisoners from Palestine and thus survived the war.