The Holocaust … as told from a Dutch perspective | SummitDaily.com
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The Holocaust … as told from a Dutch perspective

LESLIE BREFELD
Summit Daily News

BRECKENRIDGE ” German soldiers raided Janny Krynen’s home in Amsterdam in 1942, yet spared the young-looking teenage girl with long blonde hair. Her mother, however, and the 17 Jewish people she was housing, were not so lucky.

During the Holocaust, an underground system in Holland guided persecuted people to places where they could be safely hidden. At 14, Krynen, and her 10-year-old brother (who happened to be in an upstairs attic when the raid occurred) would spend the next six months alone together.

They survived on food that was left there, and sometimes would go to the Germans for rations.

She said her mother was sent to a special camp for Nazi enemies where she was beaten to within an inch of her life.

“Mother believed everyone had a right to live,” Krynen said in the kitchen of her Summit Cove home over tea and pie. She and her husband were the first to build in the area in the 1970s. She continued her explanation of her mother’s participation in the rescuing of Jews. “We never saw a distinction between color, gay, poor or rich.”

Krynen also believed that her next-door neighbor and best friend had something to do with it. Although the girl, Ellie, was not Jewish, she married a Jewish man. They would later learn that she hid in her family’s home for five years.

Krynen’s mother was eventually released from the camp; the 5-foot 8-inch woman went in weighing about 150 pounds and came back at less than 100.

They never heard back from the family of eight they had housed, or any of the others, except for one American.

He came back to thank Krynen’s mother for hiding her and also noticed Janny for the first time. Three years later the two would marry. Now 81 and 86 respectively, Janny went on to sing opera for more than 30 years and her husband Dick had a career in the military before settling in Colorado. He, like many others who survived that time, did not want to talk about it.

***

Backstage Theatre artistic director Christopher Willard stumbled upon the history of the rescuers of Jews in Amsterdam about three years ago from a story in the Los Angeles Times that told the story of woman rescuer living in Vermont.

“I knew about Schindler and the Anne Frank family, but began to think about all these other people who rescued Jews in the Holocaust. This very quiet woman had done all these things,” he said.

He and writing partner Jamie J. Bruss traveled to Amsterdam to research the story ” the entire play is set in Holland.

Willard described the piece as “one of the most serious topics I’ve ever addressed,” yet noted that there are no acts of violence portrayed and the play is never set in any camps.

It is set as a documentary come to life, with the stories of seven people told, throughout the play.

“It’s alive and vibrant and being experienced as it is being conveyed … not something cold and removed,” he said.

In writing “Hidden,” Willard said he was first hooked by the question of how he would have handled what those living in Amsterdam were faced with.

“America’s never been invaded. What would you do if you woke up and someone was in charge of how you lived your life?” he said. “And then the big question: What if someone stood on your doorstep and asked for aid, someone who is being persecuted because of their lineage?”

The play reaches into what it was like to be in Holland during the occupation and tells the stories of rescuers ” and also those who did not choose to rescue.

***

The show’s run is sponsored by several religious organizations in the community including the Father Dyer Methodist Church, the Synagogue of the Summit, The Catholic Community of Summit County (St. Mary’s Catholic Church and Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church), the High Country Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, the Immanuel Fellowship and the Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church.

Synagogue of the Summit and the Father Dyer church are also hosting a special performance on April 15, Holocaust Remembrance Day. The event is open to the public and Rabbi Joel Schwartzman and Pastor Tracy Hausman will lead a discussion afterward.

Sandy Greenhut, founder of Synagogue of the Summit, said she has been putting on an event for April 15 for the last three years.

She described this as a different kind of Holocaust awareness event, but said that the goal is the same.

“I personally lost family members in the Holocaust and it’s very personal to me,” she said. “I don’t want people to forget it and I don’t want them to say it didn’t happen, because it happened.”

“Hidden” opens Friday at the Breckenridge Theatre.


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