Washington, DC, May 2, 2010 … Jaap Penraat, a Dutch resistance fighter who saved more than 400 Jews during the Holocaust by forging fake documents and guiding them to safety, was honored posthumously by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for his heroism in risking his life to save others.
"Jaap Penraat was a person of moral courage and conscience," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor who was saved by his Polish Catholic nanny, in presenting the award. "He had more than enough reason to stay silent, but instead stood up to say 'no.' In an action that required nerves of steel, he presented phony paper work and safely transported more than 400 Jewish 'slave laborers' to France, securing their freedom. His bravery and selflessness merit our recognition and our eternal thanks." The ADL Courage to Care Award, which honors rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust era, was presented to Jaap's daughter, Noëlle Penraat, during a ceremony at the League's National Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.
A native of Amsterdam, Jaap was in his 20's when Germany invaded the Netherlands and Nazi persecution of Jews began. Unwilling to simply stand by, Jaap produced counterfeit identity cards for Jews, helping them hide their Jewish identities and avoid arrest. He was soon discovered and sent to prison for several months, where he was subjected to inhuman conditions and torture.
Upon his release, Jaap saw that the Nazi campaign against the Jews had intensified and he decided to take more drastic action. He devised a plan to disguise Jews as construction workers for a German fortification wall and smuggle them out of Holland. With a friend's help, Jaap forged the necessary work permits and travel documents before personally accompanying Jews to France and the French Underground. From there they were transported to Spain and other countries. Jaap made about 20 trips, accompanying about 20 Jews each time.
After the war, he became a noted architect and industrial designer in Amsterdam, before moving to the United States in 1958. Jaap Penraat passed away in 2006.
In 1987, ADL created a unique award to honor rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust era. The ADL Courage to Care Award is a plaque with bas-reliefs depicting the backdrop of the rescuers' exceptional deeds – the Nazis' persecution, deportation and murder of millions of Jews. The Courage to Care program is sponsored by Eileen Ludwig Greenland.
Past recipients of the ADL Courage to Care Award include: Irene Gut Opdyke, Gilberto Bosques Saldívar, Eduardo Propper de Callejón, Khaled Abdelwahhab, Ernst Leitz II, Mefail and Njazi Bicaku, Hiram Bingham IV, Sir Nicholas Winton, Konstantin Koslovsky, Jan and Miep Gies, Aristides De Sousa Mendes, Jan Karski, Selahattin Ulkumen, Chiune Sugihara, the French town of Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon, Emilie and Oskar Schindler, The Partisans of Riccione, Italy and Johanna Vos.