Marjan Booden-van der Knoop was born two years after her parents took in their 3-year-old Jewish neighbor and saved him from death during the Holocaust of World War II. On Wednesday, standing next to the man her parents helped rescue, she accepted an honor from the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Authority.
Van der Knoop's parents, Klass and Hendrika, were among the five Dutch citizens inducted into the memorial's "Righteous Among the Nations" group for non-Jews who rescued Jews from the Nazis. Descendants of the honorees attended, along with some who were saved. The highlight was unveiling of names on a plaque in a memorial garden.
Van der Knoop's parents took in little Alexander Groenteman in 1942, when the deportation of Jews from the Netherlands began. His parents hid elsewhere but did not survive. The Van der Knoops taught him to act like a member of the family to avoid detection.
Marjan Booden-van der Knoop, now 63, said she often heard her parents mention Groenteman but learned the whole story only after reconnecting with him more than 20 years after World War II. Her parents have since died.
"It's always hard to talk about the past," she said after receiving her medal and certificate. "It was impossible for them to say thank you, and it was impossible for my parents to say thank you for your thank you. But this puts an end that. It is clear for everyone now."
Groenteman, 68, who also attended the ceremony, expressed a similar sense of closure.
"We can never repay them for what they did, but this is the closest thing we can do," he said. He emigrated to Israel in 1947.
Also honored were Albartha and Klass Crum, and Dirk Kroon. Yad Vashem has conferred the status of "Righteous Among the Nations" on more than 21,700 people.