Religion: The Abduction of Anneke

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When the Nazis began rounding up the Jews in Amsterdam, Salesman Elias Beekman and his wife, Sara, slipped their 2½-year-old Anna into the underground just in time. Arrested on June 20, 1943, the parents were gassed to death in a concentration camp in Sobibor, Poland on July 9.

Anna survived. Passed from hand to Christian hand like hundreds of other scared and bewildered children, she found refuge at last with five maiden sisters named Van Moorst, all Roman Catholics, in the town of Hilversum. All through the war she was safe. But at war's end it seemed that the ordeal of Anneke, as they called her, was just beginning.

Kidnaped. In due course, Dutch Jewish organizations and The Netherlands Commission for War Orphans applied to the Van Moorst sisters to transfer Anneke Beekman to a Jewish foster family so that she could be raised in the faith of her Orthodox Jewish parents. But the sisters objected—first that the Beekmans had not been really Orthodox, then that the proposed Jewish foster family was not religious enough. Geertruida Van Moorst pleaded that the Dutch courts were putting the theoretical importance of a Jewish family background above the importance of the loving care she had lavished on Anneke. Replied the Commission for War Orphans: "A Jewish child must be brought up in Jewish surroundings." Retorted Geertruida: "The child, who came to us when she was two, became aware of things only in our surroundings and thus knows nothing of the surroundings of her parents." After almost two years of delay, on July 21, 1947, a social worker had gone to the Van Moorst house to take custody of Anneke and found that she had disappeared.

The familiar hurricane of bitterness, evasion, religious rivalry and newspaper denunciation whirled up around Anneke, as it had around the Finaly boys in France. But in that case (TIME, July 6, 1953) the Roman Catholic hierarchy had helped in getting the Finaly brothers back; it was not so in Holland. Archbishop Bernard Alfrink refused to intervene. Proclaimed the leaders of Amsterdam's Jewish congregations: "Though only a single child is concerned, this case is a measuring rodi for civilization and freedom."

Meanwhile, the case was complicated by another Jewish war orphan: Betty Meljado, whose Protestant foster mother had sent her to a Catholic school, had also disappeared when the authorities sought to transfer her to a Jewish family. In a series of adventures like a Hitchcock movie, she had been seized, kidnaped, retaken, and kidnaped again—once in a car driven by an ex-priest, who was trying to keep the child from the Jewish family.

In March 1954 the police raided a Belgian convent school and found Betty, by now a highly "nervous" girl. They missed Anneke by minutes. But they had enough evidence to make arrests, and a new wave of bitterness swept The Netherlands. Last year Geertruida Van Moorst was sentenced to a year in jail (six months of it suspended) for helping hide the abducted Betty. Last month Geertruida and her sister Elizabeth (in absentia) and four others were brought to trial in Amsterdam for kidnaping.

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