On a drizzly grey day in April this year 2015, when Kae and her family visited Bergen Belsen Kae was prepared to experience some gloom, yet after sitting through speeches and ceremonial plaque laying, given in German (which she didn’t understand) she found the entire day more than just a little draining, that is, until Hetty began chatting to her. With Hetty’s bubbly personality, she had added a bit brightness to Kae’s day. Kae later wrote about her meeting with Hetty – in her Pink Coat, on her own little blog.
The link to Kae’s article is below
It almost seems inconceivable that there was ever a time in Australian history, when there was a need to gain an understanding, of different Ethnicities. A vision of how to smoothly integrate the vastly growing New Australian population, into the typical Aussie life style was formulated, by the late great Malcolm Fraser. Michael MacKellar was the Minister for Immigration and it was he, who appointed Hetty to the Ethnic Affairs Council.
On Australia Day 1977, the Australian Ethnic Affairs Council was created which changed the entire social structure of Australia. Their recommendations called The Green Paper was accepted by both sides of Parliament without any alterations in 1978. Even today one can find much evidence of this effect.
The Australian Ethnic Affairs Council was divided into 4 Committees. Hetty was part of the Committee for Public Consultation and Ethnic Media and it was their recommendation to establish SBS.
Hetty Verolme, a Dutch migrant, had become successful and had shown how to easily integrate multiculturalism, into the Australian way of life. She was awarded the Most Successful Migrant award in 1972. Hetty became part of the Inaugural Ethnic Affairs Council in 1977 and held the office for three years, until 1980. Appointed to Ethnic Affairs Council
Photo – Courtesy of the National Archives Victoria. (Museum Victoria)
Hetty seen here unpacking the imported Dutch goods in readiness for the 1st Dutch Festival in Adelaide. Hetty was also the first female President for the Netherlands Society in Adelaide a position she held for nearly a decade.
The German President visited Bergen Belsen this 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camp where there are many many mass graves left untouched with but a few headstones.
An acquaintance of Hetty’s a well known historian, and author himself of many books, Hans-Dieter Arntz, has written a book called The Last Elder of Bergen Belsen -Josef Weiss. Hans-Dieter also went to Belsen this year.
It seems The President of Germany Joachim Gauk, sent a letter to Hans-Dieter and added his very special greetings to the Family Verolme and Weiss – dated May 2015.
Speaking to Hetty of Hans- Dieter today , she said “He sent me a copy of the actual letter he received from the President of Germany, where the President sends his personal Greetings to Family Verolme and Weiss”.
Hetty said she was especially honored to have received words from two European Presidents during her tour in May. “I find it unbelievable” she said with excitement “that now a second President in Europe has done this”.
The first recognition came from The Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who opened the book Fair in Turin” she said. Hetty was a guest speaker there when President Mettarella gave Hetty an honorable mention in his opening speech, that day, 14th May 2015.
A wonderful article written about Hetty was printed in the ABC Desevilla in Spain. We understand that there was great respect shown for Hetty and her incredible story in Seville where her books were a sell out and where she became very popular among the children and students! She was welcomed by some family members initially to Spain but was soon flooded with compliments from the public during her talks.
The article can be read in it’s entirety in the following link –
Hetty has been asked to say a few words at the opening of a book fair in Turin. She has enjoyed the last few days site seeing and visiting schools in Milan where she has given talks in English whilst it’s been directly translated into Italian for the students. Speaking from Milan today, Hetty said “Some had tears and their eyes full of emotion and the Teacher was also very moved”.
Tomorrow in Turin she’ll be interviewed on Italian radio and speaking at the Book Fair. The last radio broadcast on Dutch Radio on 4th May saw record internet sales for Hetty’s book. The interest continues in Italy.
These photos just in are just too precious not to share. If you know Hetty or have met her even once, you know that she has a very strong character and a deep desire to express herself on any subject she holds dear, whenever the occasion presents it’s self.
Here’s Hetty listening, seated at the table of guests at Begen Belsen last week and
here’s Hetty speaking to an official after the plaque ceremony.
Hetty! Always something to say about Belsen.
On the special night in Werkendam with Hetty as the guest speaker, the MC called her a “living monument”.
We have been asked to add this little video for everyone to see. Although it is in Dutch we think it’s worth sharing with everyone.
and just to show her popularity even more…while she is away in Seville there’s been a full page spread in a Dutch Newspaper. And a lovely pic of Hetty after autographing a book for a fan. And here is Pam Werkendam, Hetty’s travel companion and sister in law.
Hetty will be speaking at the University of Seville tomorrow May 6th 2015 in the Salon de actos de la Facultad de CC. de la Educacion (The university Auditorium) at 16.30 – 18.30.
If you been unable to see her talks this tour, now would be the perfect opportunity to catch up with her for this event. The recent release of Spanish version of Hetty’s Book – The Children’s House of Bergen Belsen will be the highlight of this event.
Hetty joined a scattering of other old survivors and British soldiers at Bergen Belsen this year. Numbers are dwindling but it was obvious that many of 2nd generation and relatives of survivors came to show their respects in this year of great significance. It is the 70th year commemoration of the liberation of Belsen. In sometimes pouring rain the tributes of respect continued. Hetty noticeable in her hot pink coat was followed around this year not only by some fans who continue to come up to her during her walks but also by Channel Seven. We will see this footage in the near future.
Hetty’s Forefather Mozes Werkendam was born in Werkendam in 1737 and she was invited by the Werkendam Council, as a special guest to give a lecture, at the 70th year commemoration of the ending of WWII. Many questions were asked on the open mike, afterwards and was then followed by her usual book signing with a very long line of eager fans. Hetty is very generous of her time at her book signings and always gives a special message to each and every fan who has queued.
Hetty on – Smuggling Sausgages – Belsen
Hetty’s Thanks to the people of Werkendam
The long queue of fans wanting Hetty to autograph their books.
thanks to Sylvana de Baker for these wonderful images and videos.