Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte presented an medal of honor for Human Aid in gold last Thursday to the relatives of Jan Zwartendijk. Zwartendijk, former Philips director and deputy consul in Lithuania during World War II, saved thousands of Holocaust Jews by granting them visas for Curaçao.
This highest award from the Dutch state was received by the children of Zwartendijk. Less than 90 of these medals have been issued so far. Prime Minister Rutte praised Zwartendijk for his courage and decisiveness: “ It is often people in the background who do the exceptional. Making the difference. ”
Zwartendijk ended up in Lithuania because he was director of a Philips branch in the country. During his employment as a deputy consul, he issued thousands of visas for Curaçao to Jewish refugees, enabling them to escape from the Nazis.
The Chapter for Civil Orders, the body that advises on royal awards, decided earlier this year to make an exception for Zwartendijk. This is remarkable because the Dutch government had already decided in 1951 to no longer award awards for acts of resistance. The ceremony took place at Duivenvoorde castle in Voorschoten.
Last year, a monument was unveiled in Eindhoven in honor of resistance heroes from the Second World War, and in particular in honor of Jan Zwartendijk. It is a tribute that will certainly resonate on Curaçao, the destination of the visa. curacao.nu