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Dutch diplomat killed by Nazis honored for saving Jews

(JTA) — A Dutch diplomat who died in a Nazi concentration camp will receive Israel’s special honor for non-Jews who helped Holocaust survivors escape the genocide.

The medal and title of Righteous Among the Nations will be conferred posthumously on Joop Kolkman on Monday at a ceremony in The Hague, the Dutch foreign ministry and Israel’s embassy in the Netherlands said in a statement.

Kolkman, a former journalist who served as a diplomat in France when the German army invaded, was connected to several underground networks helping to find safe houses for Jews. He also provided financial assistance for the Jews in hiding and used his contacts with French and German officials to secure the release of several Jewish families from concentration camps.

Kolkman was arrested, interrogated and sent to a Nazi concentration camp, where he died in 1944 at the age of 48, several months before Allied forces liberated his homeland.

He is commemorated with a memorial plaque at the entrance to the headquarters of the Dutch foreign ministry in The Hague. The ministry’s secretary general, Renee Jones, is scheduled to receive the Righteous Among the Nations medal on Monday on behalf of Kolkman from Israel’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Haim Divon.

With over 5,000 recipients, the Netherlands has the highest number of Righteous Among the Nations in Western Europe. Worldwide, the Netherlands — a nation of about 12 million people during World War II — is second only to Poland in the number of people who received the title.

 

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