Max Arpels Lezer, President
Max (Marcus) Arpels Lezer was born on October 9, 1936 in Assen, Netherlands, to Flora (Arpels) and Solomon Lezer. In 1938, the family moved to Amsterdam, where Solomon worked as a manager of a woman’s clothing shop and Flora as a manicurist. Following the German invasion of the Netherlands, Solomon joined the underground and assumed the name of Van Leuwen. In the summer of 1942, Solomon and Flora sent Max to his grandparents in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, for a holiday. During September of 1942, Flora was arrested and sent to Westerbork transit camp. From there she was deported to Auschwitz where she perished.
After Flora’s arrest, Solomon felt he could no longer care for Max and arranged for him to be placed in hiding. Max’s grandparents placed him with a minister in Apeldoorn. He stayed there for a couple of weeks before being sent to Friesland in the northern Netherlands where he lived with the Wetterauw family. Ype and Boukje Wetterauw had one child of their own who had died in infancy. Unable to have any more children, they were happy to take in foster children. In addition to Max, they had one adopted son, Gerrit, and were caring for a Jewish girl named Joke for a short time, until she returned to her father.
Max remained with the Wetterauws from 1942 to 1948. During his period in hiding Max used several last names including Van Leuwen and Lenders. Others in the village knew Max was Jewish, but they never betrayed him. Ype, however, was arrested briefly for his resistance activities.
Solomon Lezer found Max after World War II ended, but the Wetterauws did not want to give him back, requesting that they be permitted to keep him until his 18th birthday. Max eventually returned to his father, who had by then remarried. Unhappy at t his father’s home, Max ran away three times, twice to his foster family. In 1961 Max married Sofia Snoek, a Jewish woman who had also survived the war in hiding.
PhD. Jana Draska Obituary
On Shabbat morning, September 12, 2009, before Rosh Hashanah, and just before her 79th birthday, Jana Draska left us. She was an outstanding personality who made a major contribution to the life of the Jewish community. She was one of the founders of the Hidden Child Prague group and served as a President for many years. Jana Draska was a co-founder of the European Association of Jewish Child Survivors (EUAS). Inspired by her visit to a Conference of the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust in the United States, Jana was one of the guiding spirits of a WFJCSH which took place in Prague in 1998, the largest ever.
After graduating from the Grammar School, Jana started her studies of political and social sciences at the University. However, the Communist regime forced her to abandon her studies and take a clerical job. Finally, in the 60’s she graduated from the University of Journalism and worked as a journalist for the radio and press. During the forty years of the Communist regime, she, along with other Czech Jews, was often subjected to Government supported anti-Semitism. As a result, she was out of work for several years being rehabilitated by the Syndicate of Journalists after the fall of Communism. She returned to her profession, was active in many Jewish institutions, co-founded and was editor-in-chief of several Jewish journals, worked in the culture department of the Prague Jewish community and participated in the Steven Spielberg Shoah foundation activities.
She is the co-author of several books in which she recaptures her precious memories and defends the moral and culture values of Jewish tradition. The books and articles she wrote are based on original written documents and oral testimonies of the last eye-witnesses of the Holocaust. Even when she was confined to a wheelchair she took part in demonstrations against the neo-Nazis. She did not have time to finish a number of unique projects on the present history of Czech Jews.
People say that G-d calls his favorites to himself just on the very day of Shabbat. Jana Draska was a courageous, hard-working and resilient woman who set an example for those around her. Throughout her life she fought for the rights of others, selflessly and with determination. Many of us have reason to be grateful to Jana Draska. Her memory will live on.
Memorials around the world
Download this .pps document (9 Mb).
President of the European Association of Survivors knighted
On April 29, the day before Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands’ Official Birthday, Max Arpels Lezer, president of the EUAS, was amongst the 62 people presented with the documents and insignia of a knighthood by the Acting Mayor of Amsterdam.
Max was born in Assen (Holland) in 1936. He spent most of World War II in the province of Friesland, living with the Wetterauw family as a hidden child under assumed names. Although some villagers knew that he was a Jewish child, he was not betrayed.
His mother was arrested, sent to Westerbork, but did not survive Auschwitz concentration camp. His father had joined the resistance, and survived. Max wrote his autobiography entitled ‘Max is een hondennaam’ (Max is the name for a dog). In 1961 he married Sofia, also a child survivor.
Max has been involved for many years with several Jewish organisations in the Netherlands and elsewhere, such as Sar-El, Het Ondergedoken Kind (Organisation of Hidden Children), and the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust, in honorary capacities. He was one of the organisers of the World Federation’s 2005 Amsterdam Conference. He was also a major force in the organisation which commissioned and erected the statue (see right) Het ondergedoken kind en zijn beschermer (The hidden child and his protector) in the Amsterdam suburb of Buitenveldert. The monument is a reminder of the hidden children during the Second World War and honours the people who offered them protection.
Max has been elevated to Ridder in de Orde van Oranje Nassau – Knight of the Order of Orange Nassau. We congratulate him and his supportive family on the recognition of his hard work.
Henri Obstfeld, Vice-President