WA family honours Shoah rescuer

A PERTH man has attended a ceremony in the Netherlands to honour the 10 people who joined forces to rescue his mother when she was a young woman during the Holocaust.

In a moving ceremony, the courageous Dutch nationals who saved Perth grandmother Erica Moen (nee Deen) as a teenager, were recognised by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.

Spirited between the homes of her rescuers in Dutch towns from 1942 until liberation, she migrated to Australia after the war, settled in Perth, and is now a resident of the Maurice Zeffert Home.

Her son Martin Moen, his wife Ruth and their children Simon and Rebecca, attended the Yad Vashem ceremony held in Amsterdam at the Centrum Perigreni, a house owned by a woman who herself was recognised for hiding and saving Jews.

The grandmother of three had planned to join them but a fall resulting in a broken arm shortly before they were due to fly out meant she had to follow the event from Perth.

More than 50 people, including representatives from Yad Vashem and the Israeli Embassy, attended the December 10 ceremony.

Martin has spent almost 24 years researching the experiences of his mother during her time underground hiding from the Nazis and their Dutch collaborators. After constantly prodding her for information, he discovered she had escaped certain death under a hastily constructed straw bale shelter.

Erica revealed the names of many Christians who without a thought for their own safety went out of their way to look after her and her family.

The Moens met families of the Righteous recipients on December 8 at a restaurant in Loosdrecht, where Martin was born in 1949, with Dutch TV recording interviews.

“An observation I made was that the occasion was like meeting long lost family and that many long-term connections were initiated,” said Martin, who produced a booklet to commemorate the ceremony. “My children enjoyed the interactions with their peers and many were invited to visit Australia.

“We must now focus our attention on recognising people who saved Jews. The past 70 years have focused on what happened to us … we have not recognised the power of focusing on what others have done for us,” he said.


Falk and Moen Families