You've never heard of him. Now, you'll never forget him.

There’s nothing to debate. Those Pittable (and pitiable) are obvious. This is nothing even close to mundane. Hence, IMHO.

Full disclosure, I first found this on Fark. I likely would have found it on my own, but not for another day or so.

Jaap Penraat, a true hero.

Many of us like to air greivances in ways that make certain situations seem dire to the fate of humanity. There are many, many things any of us can get fired up over no matter your political bent. There are few things, however, that would get any of us this passionate. Few things that would make us stake our freedom and even our very lives on.

This guy (and many others) weren’t punching keyboards and linking websites to show the “non-beleivers” how the world was going to Hell in a handbasket. There were no histrionic ramblings about how a blowjob or gas prices were proof that Satan was, indeed, in control.

This guy risked it all to take a stand. To try to help his fellow man. This guy embodied what we all hope to be, and most often fail to be. You’re always going to have a Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, etc. Say what you will about any leaders today. Keep in mind that it isn’t as bad today as some think.

No, this isn;t some defend-Bush manifesto. It’s a reminder of what has and can happen, and a comparison to how “bad” it is now.

We have it pretty damn good. And I pray we never have to choose to follow Mr Penraat’s path. I pray the choice never needs be an option.

There’s a woman in my community who hid Jews in her basement during the Holocaust. She came into the museum where I work. I was supposed to be giving her a tour, but we ended up strolling through the museum while she told me stories about it.

She and her husband built a set of shelves in the basement on which they stored preserves. They would pull it out to access the tiny secret room behind. It was no bigger than a closet, but she said at time she had five or six people stuffed in there, hiding until the danger passed and they could be sent on to another safe house.

It was an incredible honor to meet such a hero. No books have been written about her and she’ll never be the subject of a movie. Few people will ever know what she did and what she risked. I only hope and pray if I am ever called upon for it that I can display the same strength and decency that she did in those dark and ugly days.

Thank you duffer. I truly admire a hero of this magnitude and regret I only now have become aware of him. I wish I could recall the quote but it said something about the greatest hero is the one whose benefactors are unaware of his sacrifice; acts without hope of recognition. I will try to find it later perhaps.
Thanks again

Thanks for the link. It’s a good reminder of the goodness and bravery in people. Oh, those quiet heroes.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. It is indeed amazing to think about that man’s bravery and selflessness…brings a tear to my eye.
Earlier today, coincidentally, I was flipping through Victor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” and thinking about how incomprehensible the true horror of the Holocaust is for those of us who didn’t actually live through it. We haven’t lived through anything even close, so I don’t think it quite seems real to us. We hear comparisons to Nazis so often in political debates and such that I think a lot of us are kind of jaded and don’t really grasp the full impact of what happened and the true evil cruelty of it.
There are no words that can fully express my gratitude and admiration for those exceptional people who rose above all that evil to show the good in human nature.

Lissa, have you considered looking up that woman and seeing if she might be interested in writing down some of her memories so they could be showcased at the museum as part of an exhibit or something? I bet that she has some very powerful things to say and it would be a shame if it was forgotten after she passes away.

I’ve only met one Jew who was in a concentration camp, but I’m so glad I have. My German teacher took us to a local Holocaust museum and one survivor talked about it and took questions from us kids.

The guy was forced to do a number of “death marches” between camps. His brother, who was with him, collapsed and he had to bury him himself. He said he’s never recovered from that.

She’s extremely modest about her activities. She said to me that she doesn’t hink she’s anything special-- she just did what was right. “And just doing what you should do doesn’t deserve a parade,” is how she put it to me.

We’ve actually talked about doing an exhibit. A few years ago, we did a huge WWII exhbit and knew her story would be perfect for it, but she declined when it was discussed with her.

Thankfully for future historians, her daughter recognizes the power of her mother’s story has made efforts to preserve it. From what I hear, she’s videotaped a lot of her mother’s reminicences, and she’s also written a little book (privately published) about it.

It may very well be because I tend to over-romanticize the past, but that mindset is why I so revere the majority of my grandparent’s generation. I beleive for the most part that that’s just how people were. We still have it today, obviously, but now it seems like most people do extraordinary things for the sake of the recognition. I can’t think of many things I would enjoy more than to visit with that woman for an afternoon and just listen.

One of my greatest pleasures was to sit with my grandparents and great-aunts and great-uncles and just talk to them about those times that are so foreign and unimaginable to us. But they seemed fresh as the day before to them. Conversely, now that they’re gone, my biggest regret is not spending more time listening to those stories. There is so much I still don’t know about them. I can’t describe why, but it really saddens me that so many today just don’t have any interest in the lives their grand and great-grandparents.

If you see that lady again, let her know a guy in North Dakota is aware of her actions. Let her know her actions won;t be forgotten for a long time, even though it’s someone she’ll never meet.

Is the book available? I’d be very interested in buying a copy.

My great-grandfather was an orphan, got married and had a family. They moved from Poland to France when my grandmother was 3. The bit of France where they lived was in the land that got invaded. He was taken and killed.
My grandmother just recently started talking about it. I know it’s hard for her, but she’s the only one who can tell us this bit of family history and I’m hopeful that she’ll share more in the future.

I certainly will. When she was leaving, I wanted to say something to her, something profound and deep expressing what an honor it was to meet such a hero. All I could think of to say was, “Thank you.” She just smiled and patted my hand.

Unfortunately, no. We had much ado acquiring a copy for our archives. (We even offered just to Xerox every page if one of the family would loan us a copy. One of her sons finally consented to donating his copy to us.) It was printed back in the 1980s, I believe, and she only had a dozen or so copies made to give out to family.

Ummm, I’ve heard of him. I thought his story was rather well-known, actually . . .