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So speaks rescuer Hetty Voûte in The Heart Has Reasons, a remarkable book that provides both a fresh look at the "righteous gentiles," and a meditation on what they might have to teach us more than half a century after they defied Hitler.
In 1996, Mark Klempner sought out some of the last surviving Dutch rescuers of Jewish children to better understand how and why they made their courageous choices. Inspired by their willingness to risk everything to help others during the war, the author became deeply interested in what the rescuers have done with their lives since, and where their moral compasses point today.
What emerges is both a window to the past and a vision for the future. If the rescuers could remain committed to making a difference while under the boot of the Nazi regime, we surely have something to learn from them about taking a stand against injustices, about maintaining an open heart, and about not giving in or giving up. Framed by Klempner's quest for meaning, their words resonate across generations, providing insightful guidance as to how people of conscience can navigate ethically in an increasingly complex world.
The rescuers, by their brave and exceptional examples, continue to challenge us with what we must all hear and learn. They remind us that governments are not always trustworthy and should not always be obeyed. They caution us against being taken in by the big lies of those in power. They call us to compassion and empathy, especially for those who are vulnerable before state policies. They challenge us to live by faith and conscience. Most of all they demonstrate that even in the face of overwhelming horrors, one can resist evil without becoming evil....
|1||Hetty Voute : invincible summer||19|
|2||Heiltje Kooistra : faith like a rock||45|
|3||Rut Matthijsen : chemistry of compassion||63|
|4||Gisela Sohnlein : on wings of song||75|
|5||Clara Dijkstra : divine mother||85|
|6||Kees Veenstra : just the human thing to do||105|
|7||Janet Kalff : a glimpse of grace||127|
|8||Pieter Meerburg : mastermind of the heart||133|
|9||Mieke Vermeer : staring truth in the face||157|
|10||Theo Leenders : laughing it all away||169|
|11||The heart has reasons||193|
"I have spent much of my professional career trying to put a human face on the ordinary men who committed asks of unspeakable evil. Like no other work I have read, The Heart Has Reasons puts a human face on those who committed acts of inestimable goodness."-Christopher R. Browning.
Posted December 7, 2006
I have read a number of books about Holocaust rescuers, but this is the first one that follows the rescuers into their post-war lives and discusses how they continue to help people out, do the right thing, and try to make a difference. Klempner asks them what they think about everything from the violence in Iraq to the violence on TV, and their responses are both wise and profound. I believe America sorely needs to listen to moral voices such as those that speak in this book, and I hope many people will read it. The stories about what the rescuers did during the Holocaust are both hair-raising and inspiring, and there are a great deal of them to be found here also.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2006
Another book about Holocaust rescuers? That might be a first reaction to The Heart Has Reasons - but this one is far beyond just more of the same. It focuses on motivation and context: why did these Dutch non-Jews risk so much to help Jews? Are they better people than ordinary folks? The answers that keep popping up are all about the personal and cultural histories of the rescuers that taught them, directly and by experience, to think independently and to value all people as equally human. Their first steps as rescuers were usually small and compelling, the kind of thing you or I might actually do. Their stories of increasing heroism are not only an inspiration to the rest of us, they are genuine and realistic examples. These people are special not because of who they are but because of what they felt obliged to do. The ordinariness of heroism and the assumptions it depends on are the main threads in this book. I found it a very refreshing, helpful note in this cynical age.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 8, 2006
In today's society, it is often in the news when people do the wrong thing and seldom reported when we as individuals or societities do the right thing. In this book, the author allows the rescuers to tell their stories in their own words and clearly separates those words from his own. He maintains that one of the reasons these heroic individuals were able to mobilize was that they were individual thinkers. By using a slightly different format, he has enabled the reader to follow that same process and be an individual thinker instead of maintaining that he (the author) has THE ONE AND ONLY ANSWER to any or all of the issues he raises in his book. An interesting, thought provoking book with many wonderful stories that show how individuals managed to maintain their beliefs in basic human decency when their whole world was shattered. I would recommend it to anyone who cares about the world around them and the people in it. It can be read as a whole or digested in small segments. It has something to offer almost any reader.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.