Conviction in the Responsibility to Protect: Dutch Reverend Recognized as Righteous Gentile. Righteous Among the Nations Recognition Ceremony Vancouver (BC)

Reverend Kalkman, his wife Klaasje Kuipers and their children.

Reverend Dirk Pieter Kalkman and his wife, Klaasje Kalkman (née Kuipers), have been posthumously awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations. The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem and the Consulate General of Israel in Toronto and Western Canada will recognize the Kalkmans at a special ceremony on November 7, 2018, at the Norman Rothstein Theatre in the Vancouver Jewish Community Centre (950 W 41st Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Z 2N7).  

The Kalkmans hid Catharina Six tot Oterleek-Kuipers, Jewish woman, at their house in Moordrecht, Netherlands, during the Holocaust. Catharina’s life was in danger. Reverend Post, a brother of the famous Dutch resistant Johannes Post, asked the Kalkmans to take her in. Recognizing their ultimate moral duty to do so, the Kalkmans welcomed Catharina despite the great danger to their family. In Nazi-occupied Europe, the risk of punishment to those who helped Jews was high.

To the outside world, the Kalkmans presented Catharina as a member of the family. This prevented her from following the fate of other Jews from Moordrecht. They were sent to Auschwitz. Most of Catharina’s extended family members perished in concentration camps in Sobibor and Auschwitz. The Kalkmans and Catharina narrowly escaped detection when the Germans came to search their house. One of the Kalkman’s daughters was suffering from diphtheria, which incited the German soldiers to leave the house.

To recognize this unique act of bravery and resilience, Reverend Kalkman and Klaasje Kalkman were awarded the title of Righetous Among the Nations.

After the World War II, the Kalkman’s son, Wim, emigrated to Canada. Their great grand-children will receive a certificate of recognition and a medal on their behalf.

Righteous Among the Nations

In 1953, the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, established Yad Vashem as the sole entity authorized to confer the Righteous Among the Nations title on behalf of the State of Israel to gentiles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. As of today, more than 26,000 individuals from 51 countries have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem (CSYV) has the responsibility and privilege of recognizing Righteous Among the Nations and their descendants who made Canada their home for their post-war lives. CSYV holds a collection of Righteous Among the Nations stories in written forms and video testimonies. CSYV encourages Canadian educators to include these unique accounts in their educational programs to share with young Canadians the stories of the Righteous as they demonstrate that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary courage.

“I had to help them. There was no choice.” – Oscar Schindler (Oscar Schindler, was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations for saving almost 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.)

The Righteous Among the Nations come from various backgrounds: They had different religious, social and political affiliations. Righteous were men and women, socialists and conservatives, atheists and believers, aristocrats and workers. What united them was the highest of moral values and the sense of responsibility to help. These are precisely the values the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem tries to convey to the next generation of Canadians.

READ and WATCH more “Righteous Among the Nations” stories here.