The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage

This book begins with the author explaining why he went to Holland to interview Holocaust rescuers: he is the son of a survivor and felt compelled to do so because of his personal connection to the Holocaust. The next chapter provides the historical background for the oral histories that follow.
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The book begins in full with the chapter about Hetty Voute, one of the biggest dare-devils among the rescuers, who relished confounding the Nazis by whisking away Jewish children from under their noses, not to mention distributing illegal newspapers. This is followed by a chapter about Heiltje Kooistra, who took nine--yes nine!--Jewish people into her little house in Utrecht and cared for them for the duration of the war. The next voice we hear from is Clara Dijkstra, who took in a Jewish baby on very short notice. Clara's story is followed by the chapter on Gisela Sohnlein, who was Hetty Voute's friend and partner: together they would take Jewish children on their bikes to safe hiding places.   

The next chapter profiles Rut Matthijsen who was the nerd of the group: he stayed behind the scenes and designed false ID cards and other useful forgeries. We then hear from Janet Kalff, a Quaker who hid a Jewish women: then the woman was arrested she spilled the beans, and some Nazi interrogators showed up looking for Mrs. Kalff: she survived, with a story to tell, which is, of course, included here. Following this, comes the chapter on Kees Veenstra, a sad but brave rescuer who took many Jewish people on his bicycle out to the country, sometimes biking more than 50 kilometers at a stretch. We then hear from Piet Meerburg, who founded a whole rescue network based in Amsterdam consisting of students at the university there. We then hear from Mieke Vermeer, who tells of how her husband founded a different rescue network, but was arrested and tortured.

Finally the author writes about Ted Leenders, a rescuer who survived the war by laughing a lot and keeping his sense of humor despite everything. He recounts many hair-raising tales involving close encounters with the Nazis, with a few humorous anecdotes thrown in, such as the time he got some German soldiers to help him push a truck that was filled with arms for the resistance. The books ends with an analytical chapter that discusses what motivated the rescuers and what they have in common, followed by a chapter called Reflections in which the author discusses what meeting the rescuers has meant to him personally.
The review of this Book prepared by Cara Siano

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Chapter Analysis of The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage

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Kind Of History

Time of history:    -   20th century History of disaster/tragedy?    -   Yes Kind of disaster:    -   Holocaust Nationality?    -   Dutch/Netherlandish

Subjects of this Historical Account

Religion? (if plays a major part)    -   Jews! Is the portrayal sympathetic?    -   Sympathetic Intelligence of subject of history:    -   Smart


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   Holland/Belgium/Luxembourg

Writing Style

How much gore?    -   5 () How fast-paced is the book?    -   8 () Accounts of torture and death?    -   explicit references to torture Book makes you feel...    -   challenged How much romance?    -   4 () Minor characters feature lots of:    -   military Is this a kid's book?    -   Ages 16-Adult Pictures/Illustrations?    -   A significant amount Maps necessary?    -   Necessary maps provided Length of book    -   201-250 pages How much emphasis on small details?    -   4 ()

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Mark Klempner Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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