A 23-year-old Dutch military policeman who refused to obey the orders of his superiors to arrest Jews in a Dutch village during WWII and then deserted the police force to join the resistance was awarded the State of Israel's highest honor for non-Jews on Monday at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
Henk Drogt was one of 12 Dutch military policemen who refused orders to round up the remaining local Jews in Grootegast, Holland on March 9, 1943, in a rare case of open police resistance to the arrest and murder of Jews of Europe during WWII.
The policemen were pressured and threatened by their commanders with incarceration at a concentration camp themselves, but steadfastly refused to carry out the orders.
The group was subsequently arrested and taken to the Vught concentration camp in the Southern Netherlands, but Drogt managed to evade arrest.
Following his escape, Drogt deserted the police force and joined one of the Dutch resistance groups, where he took part in the smuggling of downed Allied pilots to the Belgian border as well as helping to keep Jews out of the hands of the Nazis.
In August 1943, Drogt, along with others in the resistance group, were betrayed, and they were all arrested. He was taken to prison and sentenced to death.
Drogt was killed on April 14, 1944, eight months after his arrest, at the age of 24.
After the war, Drogt was posthumously decorated by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the Dutch Government for his actions in the resistance movement.
His 11 colleagues had been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem two decades ago, although Drogt's name had previously been missing from the list of honorees submitted to Yad Vashem in the 1980s due to his initial escape from arrest.
Drogt's story was uncovered anew with the help of an El Al pilot, Mark Bergman, who heard it from Drogt's son, Henk Brink, on a visit to South Africa, where Brink lives, and contacted Yad Vashem with the story. (Source: JPOST)
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