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Members of the Wikkerink family stand outside their home shortly after Aaron Jedwab, a Jewish infant, was left on their doorstep.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 81892

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    Members of the Wikkerink family stand outside their home shortly after Aaron Jedwab, a Jewish infant, was left on their doorstep.
    Members of the Wikkerink family stand outside their home shortly after Aaron Jedwab, a Jewish infant, was left on their doorstep.


    Members of the Wikkerink family stand outside their home shortly after Aaron Jedwab, a Jewish infant, was left on their doorstep.
    Aalten, [Gelderland] The Netherlands
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Lennie Jade

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Lennie Jade
    Source Record ID: ?/162
    Second Record ID: Collections: 2012.242

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Lena (Lennie) Kropveld Jedwab (later Jade) is the daughter of Aaron and Bertha Maas Kropveld. She was born on October 12, 1922, in Aalten, The Netherlands. Her father was born on February 26, 1896, in Weerdingermond. He owned a non-kosher slaughterhouse and meat export business and worked closely with local farmers. Bertha was born on February 23, 1895, in Winterswijk. The couple married on April 24, 1919, in Winterswijk. Lennie was the third of five children: Isaac (Jesse), born 1919; Abraham, born 1920; Simon, born 1926; and David. The Kropveld family was observant, kept kosher, and attended weekly services. After the Kristallnacht pogrom in November 1938, many Jewish children were sent from Germany and Austria to stay with Jewish families in the Netherlands. In 1940, three girls from Germany, Carla, Ruth and Margot, lived with the Kropveld family.

    Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940. In January 1941, the Germans required that all Jews register with local authorities. The Germans soon began taking Jewish men to labor camps. In Aalten, the Germans went to Jewish homes at night to take Jews, Lennie's father and brothers spent their nights in the homes of non-Jewish friends to avoid arrest. On April 29, 1942, all Jews were required to wear the yellow Star of David badges, and later that summer, the Germans began deporting the Jewish population. Aaron made arrangements for the family to go into hiding with three trusted non-Jewish farmers. Lennie was to go into hiding with Yitzchak Jedwab, rabbi of the Aalten synagogue, to whom she had been engaged to before the invasion began. However, Aaron insisted that Lennie and Yitzchak marry before going into hiding together. They wed in secret in March 1942 and had a religious ceremony on July 1 in Winterswijk. Lennie's parents and four brothers went into hiding on the day of her marriage, while she and Yitzchak remained in town because he did not want to leave his congregants.

    In October 1942, Lennie and Yitzchak went into hiding at a farm, along with Ruth and Margot, their German-Jewish boarders. Aaron had arranged to pay the farmer for hiding them. In addition to the payment, the farmer's wife made Lennie sew clothes for her and her child. The four had to share one bed in a small room that the farmer had built a behind the closet where they could hide if there were visitors. Lennie became pregnant while in hiding and had a very difficult pregnancy. Food was very scarce and Yitzchak insisted they stay kosher. There were constant bombings that required them to hide in a hole in the ground outside for shelter. The farmer's sister-in-law, a Nazi sympathizer, was staying with the family when Lennie went into labor, so Lennie and Yitzchak hid in the hay loft of the barn. Lennie could not make any noise during the delivery for fear of alerting the woman to their presence and had to cover her face with a pillow. The farmer's wife did not want a doctor to help with the delivery, but after days of labor, Lennie was very ill and Yitzchak insisted.

    On September 20, 1943, Lennie gave birth to their son. When the infant was twelve hours old, he was dressed in clothes made by Lennie, placed in a cardboard box, and given to the Dutch underground to be placed in hiding. Lennie was not told where he was taken, but was assured that he was safe. The resistance left him on the doorstep of Jan Wikkerink, a resistance leader. He and his wife Dela had eight children of their own, but readily took in the baby. They told people that he had been abandoned and named him Jan Willem Herfstink. Jan after Jan Wikkerink, Willem after Queen Wilhelmina (a silent form of resistance at the time) and Herfstink, from the day he was found, September 23, the first day of autumn. The Wikkerinks looked after the baby as one of their own. Along with Dela, the eldest daughter, Lien, was largely responsible for caring for the other younger children, including Wimke (nicknamed Willem Hefstink). They ensured that everyone was well cared for, with enough food, clothing, and access to healthcare. When possible, Dela would visit Lena so she could have a glimpse of her baby and to bring them food. Lien was active in smuggling ration cards and food to a number of people in hiding, while sister Jo undertook the very dangerous work of smuggling weapons. Jo spent much of her time traveling in order to do this, and also spent long periods of time in hiding.

    At one point, Jan Wikkerink was imprisoned for resistance activities. The underground managed to break him out of jail, but because he then disappeared, the Nazis arrested Dela and set the family house on fire in retaliation. Only Lien was home with the children at the time, but she was able to save baby Willem, her younger siblings, and some important papers hidden in the house.

    Lennie and Yitzchak had meanwhile moved to another hiding place in Lintel. Three months later, the resistance moved them in a wagon covered with hay to the home of Bernard and Cynthia Wever in Aalten. Bernard, a carpenter, built them a room behind the closet where they spent all of their time. Toward the end of the war, two German soldiers were billeted in the Wever home. While the soldiers were in the house, Lennie and Yitzchak stayed in chairs in their hidden room and could not move or make any noise, sometimes for days. Aalten was liberated by British forces in March 1945, during Passover. A British soldier named Denis Taylor gave Lennie matzah on the day they were liberated. Lennie and Yitzchak settled into a house next to the synagogue and met their one and a half year old son several times while he was still living with the Wikkerinks. He was returned to his parents a few weeks later, when they had a home of their own. Lennie and Yitzchak had a bris for their son and named him Aaron Jan Jedwab, after Lennie's father and Aaron's foster father. It was a difficult adjustment for him, so Jo accompanied him and lived with the family for nearly a year to help with his transition.

    The Jedwabs remained in contact with Wikkerink family and in 1978, Yad Vashem honored the Wikkerinks as Righteous Among the Nations.
    Record last modified:
    2015-05-07 00:00:00
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