Adult children accept Righteous Among the Nations Award on behalf of their parents for sheltering Holocaust survivor
ST. PETERSBURG — For years, Dina Dasberg Angress waited for the opportunity to honor Walle and Ellie Nauta, a couple she credits with saving her life.
And Tuesday evening, Dina finally got her chance.
“I’ve been waiting to do this a long time but they wouldn’t hear of it,” the 80-year-old California resident said. “I had to wait until they were gone. I have this feeling they are looking down on us and saying, ‘She did it anyway.’”
Dina, alongside the Nautas’ three children — Tjalda, Janneke and Haring — traveled to St. Petersburg to participate in the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the Florida Holocaust Museum.
During the ceremony, the trio accepted The Righteous Among the Nations Award — the highest honor bestowed by the State of Israel to non-Jews who protected Jews during the Holocaust — on behalf of their parents.
“This is a very significant (honor),” said Paul Hirschson, deputy consul-general, consulate general of Israel. “(It honors) the few individuals who, at the risk of their own lives, stood up, stood forward and took a stand against the immorality, against the barbarism, against the butchering, against the Holocaust and took in, one way or another, Jews … and saved their lives.”
For Dina, it was important to honor the young couple who not only sheltered her at the age of 15, hiding her from the atrocious acts of the Nazis, but who also treated her like “part of the family.”
“I wanted to do this because if they hadn’t been there for me, I wouldn’t be here now,” she said. “I have six kids, 12 grandkids, three great-grandkids, and they wouldn’t have been here, either. They (the Nautas) were paramount in my life.”
For the family’s middle child, Janneke Bogyo, of the Village of Piedmont, her parents’ act of bravery was something she knew of — she and Dina have kept in constant contact throughout the years — but one she said her parents downplayed due to their modest nature.
“I always thought a lot of them for having done that, but they were very modest, they didn’t like to get a lot of credit for it … ,” she said. “They just felt they did the right thing because it was the right thing to do and not because they wanted any kind of honor.”
The occasion was an overwhelming one for the eldest child, Tjalda, who said hearing stories from Holocaust survivors, and seeing their unyielding gratitude toward those who saved their lives and that of their loved ones, was heartwarming.
“It was very moving when they came up and thanked me on behalf of my parents for saving them,” Tjalda said. “They said, ‘You saved one, you saved us all.’”
In addition to honoring the Nautas’ bravery, Dina received a surprise of her own.
Following the ceremony, audience member Sam
Schrijver, a Dutch-born Jew who survived the Holocaust, stood up and told Dina that he had worked with her father, helping save Jews who were close to being shipped away to concentration camps.
“Many of you know me, but you have never seen me so emotional,” a tearful
Schrijver said. “I am so emotional because I did not know that Dina Dasberg would be here today. I was in the Dutch resistance … and I worked with her father.”
According to Schrijver, Dina’s father, Izak, a prominent doctor, would examine individuals preparing to go to concentration camps and would connect them with Schrijver and the resistance movement to sneak them into hiding.
“Your father, I want you to know, was a hero,” Schrijver, overcome with emotion, told Dina.
Following a hug, a smiling Dina exchanged contact information with the man who worked so closely with her father and said she wasn’t surprised to hear such words about the man she admired.
“It was wonderful,” she said of the surprise meeting. “My father was an amazing person … . I know he helped a lot of people.”
As for Walle and Ellie Nauta, Dina can now go back to California satisfied in her heart that she formally thanked the man and woman she owes her life to, giving their children a legacy to pass down to future generations.
“I’m very pleased to give the kids of these wonderful people the memory of what their parents did for me,” she said.
April Toler is a reporter with the Daily Sun. She can be reached at 753-1119, ext. 9013, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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