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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/w/weidner.john/weidner.001


Archive/File: holocaust/netherlands weidner.001
Last-Modified: 1994/05/27

Newsgroups: soc.culture.jewish.holocaust
From: fredch@phx.mcd.mot.com (Fred Christiansen)
Subject: Holocaust Rescuer Dies
Message-ID: 
Originator: rhorowit@mondrian.CSUFresno.EDU
Title: Holocaust Rescuer Dies
Organization: California State University, Fresno
Date: Wed, 25 May 1994 18:29:39 GMT
Lines: 82

         HOLOCAUST RESCUER JOHN HENRY WEIDNER DIES; 
           WAS HONORED BY GOVERNMENTS FOR HEROISM 

MONTEREY PARK, CALIFORNIA -- John Henry Weidner, honored as Righteous
Gentile for his heroic activities as a rescuer during the Holocaust,
died of heart failure on May 21 at his home in Monterey Park,
California.  He was 81.

As the leader of the Dutch-Paris Underground in World War II, Weidner
was responsible for the rescue of at least 1,000 persons, including
800 Jews and more than 100 Allied airmen.  Operated with the help of
more than 300 friends and relatives, Dutch-Paris was, in view of
former Dutch ambassador Johan Kaufman, "the most important underground
organization during World War II for helping people, mostly Jewish
persons, to escape from the Holocaust." Escape routes ran from Holland
through Belgium, France, and Andorra to Spain, and through France to
Switzerland.

Weidner was considered one of the Gestapo's most wanted men because of
the importance of many of those lives he saved.  Among them were
Flight Lieutenant Bram Van der Stok, a participant in the "Great
Escape" from Stalag Luft III in the fall of 1943, later appointed
Minister of Justice for the Dutch government-in-exile, and Gernt van
lleuven Godehart, who later won a Nobel prize.  Dutch-Paris, however,
rescued those in danger regardless of their ability to cover expenses
and regardless of religion or political associations.

Weidner himself succeeded in every rescue attempt, and only one person
moving along the Underground was ever caught.  However, a member of
the Dutch-Paris, captured by the Gestapo, betrayed the names of scores
in the Underground.  As a result, 40 agents died, including Weidner's
sister, Gabrielle.  Weidner was captured twice and tortured.  Once he
escaped from prison the night before he was scheduled to be executed.

After the war, Weidner assisted the Dutch Minister of Justice in the
prosecution of war criminals.  In 1958, he emigrated to Southern
California, where, with his wife, Naomi, he established a chain of
successful health food stores.  While living quietly in California,
his story was discovered by Herbert Ford, whose 1966 book Flee The
Captor recounted Weidner's wartime activities.

For his acts of heroism, Weidner has been honored with the United
States Medal of Freedom with Gold Palm, the Order of the British
Empire, the Dutch Order of Orange Nassau and Medal of Resistance, the
French Croix le Guerre and le Medaille de la Resistance, and has been
made an officer in the French Legion of Honor.  Last November the
government of Belgium bestowed on him the Order of King Leopold II.

The government of Israel honored Weidner by entering his name among
the heroes in the Golden Book of Jerusalem and by planting a grove of
trees with his name on the Hill of Remembrance along the Avenue of the
Righteous at Yad Vashem.  He was one of seven persons chosen to light
candles recognizing the rescuers at the opening of the Holocaust
Memorial in Washington, D.C.  last year.

In a foreword to Flee the Captor, Haskell Lazerc, director of the New
York Metropolitan Council of the American Jewish Congress, recalled
the words spoken by the actor Lee J.  Cobb when presenting a plaque to
Weidner on behalf of the Jewish organization.  Said Cobb, "There is an
old Hasidic legend that God has created in every generation thirty-six
wise, pious, and just men, upon whom the world depends for its
survival.  They are called `Lam-ed Vovniks.' Their identity is not to
be known to any save God.  Yet I cannot help feeling that tonight we
are in the presence of one of the thirty-six."

Atlantic Union College, a sister campus to Weidner's French alma
mater, established in 1993 The John Henry Weidner Center for the
Cultivation of the Altruistic Spirit.  Through the Center, the college
is developing lectures, concerts, classes, exhibits, and social
programs to encourage others to act in the spirit of altruism and
selflessness.

Weidner was a life-long devout Seventh-day Adventist who believed that
as a Christian he was compelled to help his fellow men, even when it
put him at personal risk.  A public memorial service will be held on
Saturday, May 28, at 2 p.m.  at the Temple City Seventh-day Adventist
Church, 9664 E.  Broadway in Temple City.

Weidner is survived by his wife, Naomi; a sister, Annette Hiplch; and
a nephew, Charles Hiplch.

                              -end-





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