Wilhelmina and Cornelis de Ru owned a grocery store in Leiden, a city in southern Holland. During WWII, the de Ru’s risked their lives to hide Maurits Kopuit, a teenager at the time. The Nazis never found Maurits, nor his mother and father, who were hidden at a nearby at a farm. Of his mother’s 35 first cousins, Maurits was the only survivor of the Nazis’ reign of terror. All the others sadly perished in the gas chambers or worse.
After the war, Maurits married and became a journalist for the New Israelite Weekly. He passed away in 1992 and is buried in Muiderberg, Netherlands.
The de Ru family risked everything to save Maurits. In a world of total moral collapse, they were amongst a small minority who mustered extraordinary courage to uphold human values. These were the Righteous Among the Nations. They stand in stark contrast to the mainstream of indifference and hostility that prevailed during the Holocaust. Contrary to the general trend, these rescuers regarded the Jews as fellow human beings who came within the bounds of their universe of obligation.
In 1963, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel, embarked upon a worldwide project to pay tribute to the Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. This represents a unique and unprecedented attempt by the victims to honor individuals from within the nations of perpetrators, collaborators, and bystanders, who stood by the victims’ side during the darkest time of history. As of January 2018, Yad Vashem has recognized 26,973 Righteous Among the Nations from 51 countries.
On Sunday, April 28, during the Yom Hashoah Community Holocaust Commemoration, two brave souls will be added to this list. Together with our San Diego community, Yad Vashem will present the Righteous Among the Nations award on behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. For the first time ever, the San Diego Jewish community has the distinct honor of hosting this special ceremony and witnessing Wilhelmina and Cornelis de Ru’s youngest son, Herman, accept the award on their behalf. Herman will receive a minted medallion, a certificate of honor, and his parents’ names will be memorialized on Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous in Jerusalem.
The Yom Hashoah Community Holocaust Commemoration is held in collaboration with the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, San Diego Generations of the Shoah, San Diego Rabbinical Association, New Life Club, Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center Jacobs Family Campus, Jewish Family Service, Jewish Community Foundation, Seacrest Village, and the Anti-Defamation League. The event is being held at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, Jacobs Family Campus, on April 28 at 1:30 p.m. To learn more about the Righteous Among the Nations visit www.yadvashem.org. To register and learn more about www.jewishinsandiego.org/yomhashoah to register and learn more.