While six million Jewish lives were taken during the Holocaust, one was brought into the world with the help of Frans and Mien Wijnakker.
Among the two dozen Jews the Wijnakkers protected in Nazi-occupied Netherlands was a Jewish woman who was pregnant when she arrived at the Catholic couple’s home in southern Holland.
The Wijnakkers performed a miracle, said Marty Brounstein, who documents the story in his book “Two Among the Righteous Few.”
“That baby, I get to call my wife,” Brounstein said.
Brounstein shared his story with an audience at Temple Tikvah in New Hyde Park on Saturday. It was one of over 584 crowds Brounstein has spoken to since the book was published in 2009.
Brounstein said audiences large and small always react positively to the story – perhaps even more so in recent months.
“In these times where we see a lot of divisiveness people are saying we need to hear about people who did good,” Brounstein said.
Brounstein said the story resonates with audiences because it is “more than a Holocaust story;” it is a story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Since Brounstein’s wife, Leah, was only a baby when the events of the story took place she doesn’t remember many of the details. Brounstein said he actually stumbled into the story by accident when he and Leah traveled to the Netherlands in 2009.
Brounstein said “through strokes of serendipity” they were reconnected with members of the Wijnakker family. One son, Franz Jr., still lives in the same house. Through reconnecting with living Wijnakkers, Brounstein pieced together the story.
He was even able to locate the first person the Wijnakkers took into hiding, who is 84 and lives in Haifa.
Brounstein, a former management consultant, did not anticipate the impact his book would have. Although the trips are draining, Brounstein said the audience support and feedback keep him and Leah motivated to continue.