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The Heart Has Reasons: Dutch Rescuers of Jewish Children During the Holocaust Updated Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0988567405
ISBN-10: 0988567407
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“These poignant stories shed light on one of the darkest episodes in the twentieth century.” — Booklist

"Klempner presents the stories and wisdom of those few who risked their lives to try to save their Jewish neighbours." — The Guardian

"Klempner strikes a masterful balance . . . a remarkable contribution to the literature of the social history of this war." — The Oral History Review

From the Author

This is an updated edition of The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage (ISBN 978-0829816990) which came out in 2006. Since the book's original publication, I have continued to talk with and think about the rescuers and have incorporated some additional information and insights into this new edition. I have also sharpened, tightened, and in some cases, improved the text. Several astute Dutch readers have pointed out minor errors, which I have corrected. Finally, I have added twelve new photographs, and updated the epilogue.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Night Stand Books; Updated edition (November 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0988567407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0988567405
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,387,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
Mark Klempner has published a revised edition of his 2006 book that represented his intensive research and thoughtful interviews with ten Dutch rescuers of Jewish children during the Holocaust. Not having read the original version this reviewer cannot make comparisons between the two editions, but that is inconsequential. This book is so deeply moving, so meticulously researched and so important that it stands alone as a pinnacle achievement. According to the provided biographical information, `Mark Klempner is a historian, memoirist, and social commentator. The son of an immigrant who barely escaped the Holocaust, Klempner spent nearly a decade talking with and getting to know the Dutch rescuers in order to write "The Heart Has Reasons." Klempner grew up in New York, and attended Cornell University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1997, and winning a J. William Fulbright Fellowship. In 2000, he received an M.A. in folklore studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.'

Klempner begins his book with a history of his finding the need to communicate something of importance to mankind. After searching for a job of meaning (including answering a suicide prevention hotline, campaigning for candidates in the government who stood for policies with which he could align, etc), he tried to make a difference: `By the early 1990s, however, the US had changed in ways I couldn't have imagined, and so had I. I see my personal changes as a sobering lesson in the power of society to affect and mold an individual. Like Anne Frank, I'd always thought that people were basically good, but being a studio guitarist in Hollywood during the `80s had eroded my capacity to believe even that.
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Format: Paperback
There is a lot written about the Holocaust, but never have I read anything so personal. In fact, it is very personal. We learn that Klempner is directly invested in his desire to meet these particular men and women. His father, a young boy at the time, was on the last ship to leave Poland before the Nazi regime shut down the port. That is a powerful realization and sent Klempner on his quest to meet the individuals involved in the rescue of Jewish children. Because Mark's writing is straight from the heart, this book on such a difficult subject is inviting to read. It is uplifting and inspiring.

Klempner has interviewed ten people -- all Dutch rescuers of children during the Holocaust. They welcomed him into their homes and opened up their hearts to him with their detailed recollections of the time they saved lives and put their own lives at risk to do so. For them, it was the right thing to do. The only thing to do.

First, we learn a little about each person. Klempner then interviews them, gently probing for them to share difficult memories and happy memories from that time in their lives. Because of his considerate manner, they are remarkably forthcoming even with the most difficult of questions. We learn of the simple, unflinching bravery of these people. I found myself asking what I would do were I in their shoes. I wasn't sure, but, in any case, I found this account encouraging and life-affirming. I am reminded that bravery happens in simple and ordinary ways. Ways that everyone is capable of.
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Format: Paperback
The book profiles ten Dutch people who saved children during the Nazi occupation of Holland. The three things that struck me most about these accounts were:

Persecution's Insidiously Subtle Beginnings

Rescuer Kees Veenstra recounted that at first the Germans "said to the Jews, 'Nothing will happen to you. You only need to register.' This didn't seem unreasonable, because non-Jews also had to register. But when you registered, they would stamp a big black J on your identification card, and once that was on there, you couldn't possibly get it off."

Rescuer Hette Voûte says, "Early in '42, I remember suggesting to one couple that they go into hiding, and they said, 'No, we're young. If we have to work in Germany, it won't be a picnic, but we'll get through it.'"

As history demonstrates, the subtle beginnings bloomed into full-scale persecution, death, and cruelty. By protecting Jewish children, who were often literally handed to them by their fleeing parents, these ten people saved lives.

This Is Not Heroism

The author puts this "not heroism" in an easily understandable term when he says, upon meeting one of the rescuers (Gisela Sohnlein) to begin the interview, "my 'ego-meter' registered zero."

I was struck, in so many of the book's passages, by the rescuers' insistence that they were not heroes.

When asked "Why did you help the Jews?" Heiltje Kooistra responded, "Would I have done the same for another group? One helps where there is a need." Similarly, Clara Dijkstra responded to the same question by saying, "It was only human." Kees Veenstra insisted, "Just because I risked my life a few times does not make me a hero.
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