The longtime former Director of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam will be the guest speaker June 21 at a special program at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance.
Cor Suijk (pronounced Sowk), Director Emeritus of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, will speak at 5:30 pm in the DHM/CET Theater as part of the opening reception for two special exhibits at the Museum—The Ritchie Boys: Secret Heroes (through August 27) and The Anne Frank Story (through June 30).
For Suijk, denouncing injustice is not enough.
As a teenager growing up in Nazi-occupied Holland, Suijk watched acts of anti-Semitism metastasize in the face of indifference and outright hatred. He and fellow classmates watched as a fellow student who was Jewish, was removed from his school. He questioned his classmate’s inaction, “Don’t we have to do something about this?” Their answer was numbing and unanimous, “You don’t have to do anything.”
The transformative event that compelled Suijk to evolve from Bystander to Upstander occurred during an ordinary trip to Amsterdam. While shopping for food with his father, he witnessed an SS raid where Jewish men were hunted, snatched from their loved ones, and thrown into street cars headed for concentration camps. The horrific screams of distraught wives and weeping children consumed the boy and his father and ultimately defined how they would proceed to live their lives in the midst Nazi cruelties.
Suijk and his father not only hid 13 Jews, but also risked exposing their defiance by recruiting over 81 families to do the same. (A mere seven volunteered to help.) His heroic actions were cut short on Christmas Eve of 1944. Nazi soldiers, after publicly stripping Suijk of his clothes, uncovered 35 pieces of identification intended to facilitate the escape of Jewish families.
He was immediately deported to a camp.
Suijk was beleaguered with lingering guilt following his imprisonment, wondering how many more victims he could have saved. The injustices he witnessed, despite his courageous efforts, were irreconcilable. Later in life, Suijk abandoned his career as a tax inspector to become the director of the Anne Frank House at the request of Otto Frank’s, Anne’s father. He has since devoted his life to nurturing and maintaining the memorial, and teaching the lessons of Holocaust to younger generations.
In interviews and speaking engagements, Suijk continues to look back at his own actions with regret, “But how many more we could have saved!” While his self-deprecation may be baffling to audiences, it illustrates core principles and obligations of being a true Upstander: to defend the innocent, to reject indifference, and to, at all costs, act against injustice. In his words, he says with conviction, “without trying, the result is always failure.”
This program is sponsored by our Community Partners: Rachel’s Challenge, SMU Embry Human Rights Program and the Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture.
The Ritchie Boys: Secret Heroes
Now through August 27
They came to America to be saved. They became American soldiers to save the world.
The Ritchie Boys were a group of young, mostly Jewish, mostly German and Austrian boys who had immigrated to the United States. They were drafted into the United States Army, often after first being rejected as “enemy aliens,” and were trained at Camp Ritchie, the Military Intelligence Training Center, in Maryland. They were there because they knew German language, culture, and mentality better than most American-born soldiers. Their existence was a well-kept secret and, to this day, the exploits and strategic importance of the Ritchie Boys is virtually unknown. This is the first exhibit telling the tales of these brave newcomers to America and how their willingness to join the fight against their homelands helped save the world from the scourge of Nazi terror.
The Ritchie Boys became a decisive weapon for the Allies, assigned mostly throughout the European Theater. Some entered Europe before D-Day (June 6, 1944). They became a primary source of intelligence about German troops, weaponry, equipment, and strategic plans.
Free with paid admission, The Ritchie Boys: Secret Heroes will introduce you to nine of these brave men and follow them from recruitment through training, their combat experiences and their lives after the war.
The Anne Frank Story: An Exhibition
June 4 through June 30, 2012 in the DHM/CET Theater
Anne Frank’s story is powerful because it is personal. The journal she kept for more than two years describes a life in hiding yet full of hope. It tells us not only how war affected a nation, but how it affected a family.