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The Righteous Few: Two Who Made A Difference
The Righteous Few is a remarkable true tale of courage, compassion, and rescue during the Holocaust. It is the story of a young married Christian couple, Frans and Mien Wijnakker, living in the Netherlands during World War II. When their country was under the brutal occupation of Nazi Germany, they got involved, when most did not, in the risky and dangerous work of helping the people most in need. By the end of the war, they had managed to save more than two dozen Jews from certain death. Their heroism later earned them a special recognition of "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
Frans and Mien were Catholics who led a simple life in the country side of southeastern Holland. They had four small children of their own. But a simple yes in response to a call for help during a business trip to Amsterdam profoundly changed Frans' and his wife's lives. In a two-year period, they took many Jewish refugees into their own home and organized a rescue network that placed refugees in other people's homes as well. As their rescue work increased, so did the many risks and dangers associated with it. They faced one of their most difficult challenges when they took in a young pregnant Jewish woman and her husband. How do you help someone who has to give birth in hiding? Through this and many other stories, The Righteous Few draws a vivid picture of two extraordinary people who shined the light of hope during one of history's darkest periods.
Dr. James Paharik Director, National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA
I am very impressed with the work of author Marty Brounstein on this book. His passion for the subject is evident, and his long journey in researching and writing this story was truly a labor of love. The book is written from a personal standpoint, which makes it very meaningful; his is a story that is vital to tell and to share. The book adds to what we know about the Holocaust in the Netherlands by telling a deeply human story that readers everywhere will be able to relate to and empathize with.
In addition, this story of these two rescuers, who took unusual and brave risks to help Jews in this time period, provides many valuable lessons for our lives today. In our time, when anti-Semitism is rising around the world and religious and racial minorities are increasingly targeted, the altruism of the Wijnakker couple offers a shining example of how we should aspire to conduct ourselves. I highly recommend this valuable and important book.
Harvey Schulweis Chairman, Jewish Foundation for the Righteous
This book is a fast read and is a story clearly of interest to me. One of the aspects of the story that most stood out is how so many people in the Wijnakkers’ local community knew what they were up to (in terms of rescuing Jews), including the influential parish priest who disapproved of what they were doing. So there were many opportunities the Wijnakkers could have been turned in to the authorities, but no one did so. What this couple did was remarkable and heroic. This is truly an inspirational story. And Marty Brounstein’s efforts to share this story over the years in many venues and places is to be highly commended.
~Unforgettable and impossible to put down. - Daniel E. Krieger ~ My 7th grade students adored this story of hope in the Holocaust. - Kerry Esrey ~ Unbelievable Story of Bravery and Courage. - Marcelyn B Potter
Mensches – good quality people. by Grady Harp, critical reviewer of literature California author Marty Brounstein earned his degrees in Education and History from National College of Education, and in Industrial Relations from the University of Oregon. During his career he has been an educator with an emphasis on history and the Holocaust in particular, as well as a human resources executive, and management consultant for his company, the Practical Solutions Group. He has published eight books, including guides to communication, mentoring, managing teams, and employee management in addition to this honored book – THE RIGHTEOUS FEW – a true tale of courage, compassion, and rescue during the Holocaust.
Marty Brounstein is a gifted story weaver. The original publication of this book was in 2017, and now it is released in a new version reflecting the experiences from his touring to many places speaking on the impact this story has made on his life and his mission to inform the world of the need for courage and compassion such as the story engenders.
As the author summarizes, this is the story of a Christian couple - commonly referred to as Frans and Mien and the actions they took in the time of the Holocaust – taking into hiding in their own home a young Jewish couple similar in age to them and aiding the pregnant Jewish mother to have and protect her child in Nazi-occupied Holland. Of note, that protected child is the author’s wife.
The story is beautifully told and produces a profound sense of compassion in the reader. In his Introduction, Marty sets the tone of this biography – ‘I want to take you on a journey into a remarkable story, and to start this journey I want you to think about three questions. Question one: Would you be willing to help others in great danger? Question two: Would you be willing to help others whose lives are in great danger? Would you still help? And Question three: Would you be willing to help others whose lives are in great danger, knowing if you get involved you probably put your life in great danger, when these people who most need the help most everyone else wants to hate them or to be indifferent to their plight? Would you still get involved and help?’
These questions and this story are what Marty shares with the world in his writing and in his numerous speaking engagements. The story in this book is richly told, but it is the passion of the author that creates the challenge in all of our minds to rise to the same qualities as the Wijnakker couple – the Christian Dutch couple of the book. Food for thought and inspiration to strive to the call Marty Brounstein signals. Highly recommended.
by Charles Ashbacher, Goodreads
When the Nazi party under Hitler rose to power in Germany in the 1930’s, it personified and magnified what was systemic Anti-Semitism in Europe. The majority of people were tolerant of the Jewish populations in their countries, but not endeared to them. Once these countries were invaded and occupied by Germany, it was clear to all that the Jews were at great risk, although a great deal was done by the Germans to keep their ultimate fate from the occupied populations.
Fortunately for the human species, there were some people willing to shelter Jewish people during the war, even with the clear threat of imprisonment or death. Two such people were Frans and Mien Wijnakker, a Dutch couple that willingly took Jewish people into their rural home to protect them from being consumed by the German death machine. This book is their story.
Since the Holocaust is a matter of historical fact, that is not an interesting feature of this book. What is the most significant aspect is that the people around the Wijnakker’s knew what they were doing, yet none of them reported it to the Germans. Which could have earned them a significant bounty from the Germans at a time when the Dutch people were suffering. In the last year of the German occupation in World War II, between 18,000 and 22,000 Dutch people died of starvation due to German action in preventing food shipments. Another interesting point is how the local Catholic priest reacted to the knowledge of Jews being harbored by Catholics. He expressed his disapproval, yet never reached the point of tattling. Through it all, the Wijnakker’s held firm in their position of helping, earning them the title of members of the “Righteous Few” club. It is a great story about courage in the face of great danger and potential death.
by Sonja Stanchina, reader
Compelling Story of Courage and Providence This book is absolutely excellent! I could not put it down and finished it in just a few days. It was captivating, heartwarming, and inspiring. I thank the author for writing it and sharing this compelling story of courage and providence with the world. I feel like I know all of the individuals he wrote about. It seems I now have a personal connection to them and I miss them! He is a very gifted author and I look forward to his next book.