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.
I just wanted to take an opportunity to thank you properly for your visit. It was such an honour and a special privilege to have you in Kalgoorlie. Our students at Goldfields Baptist College have been talking about your speech all day, and to all of their teachers. They appreciated your traveling out to see us so much more than I could ever have imagined, and were very disappointed not to hear the end of your story. Other students have given me money to purchase the last copies of The Children’s House of Belsen because they so badly wanted to find out how your story ended, and have asked me to get them signed for them when I come to see you in two weeks. It is lovely to see their enthusiasm about something so important. Many of the students who bought a copy of your book have already begun reading them. All of our students who attended were touched by your story, and many of the staff at the school have told me they were sorely disappointed not to be able to attend. I am sure there will be a lot of enthusiasm at the school at the prospect of getting you to visit again next year. Certainly, the students who attended have said that they think as many students as possible need to hear you speak, so I certainly hope we can do this again in 2014.
I very much look forward to seeing you again at the beginning of September, and hope you had a pleasant flight home.
Thank you so much again for the absolute privilege of allowing me to spend so much time with you these past two days, and for making such an effort to visit our little city and speak to the students. I know the kids who got to listen to your presentation will never forget the experience, and will hold you in their hearts for a very long time. We don’t often get people as special as yourself to come out to us, so it will be well appreciated for many years.
Thank you again Hetty, and I’m deeply sorry for the unceremonious, very rushed farewell this morning at the airport. I can say a proper goodbye when I see you in two weeks. J