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Dutch Couple is Righteous Among the Nations

A Dutch couple will posthumously receive the Righteous Among the Nations award from Yad Vashem next Monday for their bravery.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 5/19/2011, 4:30 PM / Last Update: 5/20/2011, 11:20 AM

Flash 90

Little Robert Kalfus was only four years old when he was torn away from his parents and placed by a family friend – Johan Termeer – with a Dutch couple who owned a farm. Johanna and Jacobus Witte, who lived with three of their five children in Zijdewind in the province of North-Holland, hid the young Jewish boy from the murderous Nazis throughout World War II.

Sleeping with their two sons in an attic room, Robert soon called the couple Uncle Jaap and Aunt Jo. He went to the local Catholic kindergarten and attended church with the family.  Despite regular searches of the farm, the Nazi hordes never discovered that Robert was a Jewish child. Nor did they realize that the Wittes were harboring a downed Allied pilot.

After the liberation in May 1945, Termeer returned to bring Robert back to his family, who had managed to survive in hiding. Once again facing the prospect of being torn from “home,” the six-year-old had a difficult time parting with the Wittes.

Johanna (Pieterse) Witte passed away in 1971. Her husband followed her in 1974. On August 1, 2010, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous at Yad Vashem decided to recognize the couple as Righteous Among the Nations.

On Monday, May 23, he couple's son, Cees Witte, will accept the medal on behalf of his late parents.

The presentation ceremony, to be conducted in Dutch and Hebrew, will be attended by the now-grownup Leopold Robert Kalfus as well as H.E. Michiel den Hond, Ambassador of the Netherlands in Israel, and friends of the family.