We are thankful to Ben Moxon who assisted in the visit for the following report.
From Jewish people being forced out of the country to Jewish people being helped in the country, our Australian Crombie duo had it all covered in their talks about the fate of Jewish people in the Netherlands during the Holocaust.
Associated with the release of Kelvin Crombie’s new book, Jewish Christians in the Netherlands during the Holocaust, the talks centred around the development of phases 1-7 of Hitler’s plan to remove the Jewish population from Europe; followed the testimony of a Jewish Protestant who met his death at Mauthausen concentration camp; the efforts to save innocent Jewish people through the church’s intervention, even of providing them with baptismal certificates; along with the tireless intervention of the everyday people in Holland who risked their own lives to save people they had never met - through adoption of Jewish children, hiding Jewish people in their house and helping them escape.
As a member of the younger generation, I think this testimony of the courage and compassion we as humans should have to others regardless of faith or colour will always speak volumes. It serves as a stark contrast to the individualism and disregard to others we see becoming ever more commonplace today. The incredible and moving talks given by Kelvin also detailed his passion for Israel and the mental and emotional challenges he had to invest in his research and writing project. The Holocaust will always remain a draining & distressing project to research but keeping alive the stories and testimonies of those who lost their lives solely for being Jewish is essential, as Kelvin’s daughter, Abigail Crombie’s amazing talk on her 4-year research project also detailed.
This comes as exposure in youth to historical tragedies is lessening as shocking as it may sound a lot of Abigail’s friends in Australia did not even know what the Holocaust was. So, taking the challenge upon herself, she wrote and illustrated her gorgeous graphic novel “The Unshakeable” detailing the efforts her very own great grandfather (AAL Rutgers) and his brother, Victor Henri Rutgers played by opposing the Nazi’s plans. Their heroic acts included writing letters of protest, working for the underground network to pass information back to the Dutch authorities who had fled to Britain and more. AAL Rutgers was sent to three prisons including Buchenwald, while Victor Henri was caught delivering essential messages from the underground, thrown into prison, and died shortly after.
I had the privilege to be able to listen to the talks several times and really take in what Kelvin and Abigail said, and I can testify that Abigail’s concerns are true, as a lot of what I thought I knew was not right. Such as how late into the war the final solution of murdering all the Jewish people was devised and implemented, along with the prior plan that was to have the Jewish population shipped to Madagascar in Africa. Therefore, I implore you to keep exposing yourself to presentations on history and read books on new things to expand your understanding.
My role in volunteering was to sell the Crombies’ wonderful books which you will be happy to know you can find on the CMJ website www.cmj.org.uk/shop and even have delivered right to your door! I can vouch for how good they are as I sold clean out!
It was also very fitting that one of the main talks was in Elim, Rotterdam (to where I had greater trouble delivering the books and arriving to after being mistakenly arrested by five armed police officers and missing my ferry, than selling the books!). Elim was a housing centre which offered help and shelter to over 200,000 Jewish refugees prior to their departure to Ellis Island, New York, on the express line from Rotterdam port.
In closing I know we have all had a hard time during the lockdowns with being isolated and know the soaring costs of living, but I ask you to remain hopeful and faithful as we will see better times. A quote from Kelvin has really stuck with me “could there really be light in those darkest of places, like Auschwitz - absolutely!” and although times may have felt their darkest, God will always help us find a light at the end of the tunnel, by finding new found purpose in research projects and books or finding God anew - there will always be something to keep us going.