"You can't let people be treated in an inhuman way around you. . . . Otherwise you start to become inhuman."
So speaks rescuer Hetty Voûte in The Heart Has Reasons, a remarkable book that provides both a fresh look at the "righteous gentiles," and a meditation on what they might have to teach us more than half a century after they defied Hitler.
In 1996, Mark Klempner sought out some of the last surviving Dutch rescuers of Jewish children to better understand how and why they made their courageous choices. Inspired by their willingness to risk everything to help others during the war, the author became deeply interested in what the rescuers have done with their lives since, and where their moral compasses point today.
What emerges is both a window to the past and a vision for the future. If the rescuers could remain committed to making a difference while under the boot of the Nazi regime, we surely have something to learn from them about taking a stand against injustices, about maintaining an open heart, and about not giving in or giving up. Framed by Klempner's quest for meaning, their words resonate across generations, providing insightful guidance as to how people of conscience can navigate ethically in an increasingly complex world.
From the Foreward:
"I have spent much of my professional career trying to put a human face on the ordinary men who committed asks of unspeakable evil. Like no other work I have read, The Heart Has Reasons puts a human face on those who committed acts of inestimable goodness."Christopher R. Browning.
From the Back Cover:
"Like no other work I have read, Klempner's deeply moving book puts a human face on the Holocaust rescuers." Christopher R. Browning, author of Ordinary Men and The Origins of the Final Solution
"A book to restore one's faith in the possibility of human goodness." Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People
"No one knows what this 21st century will bring, hope or horror. The brave people Klempner profiles in this gripping book show us there can be hope, even amid horror." Pete Seeger, legendary folk singer
"Powerful stories that can inspire us in our current time. They remind us that even in the most difficult circumstances we still can make choices that matter." Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time
"An invaluable book for anyone who seeks to learnor relearnthe art of compassionate resistance." Garret Keizer, author of Help: The Original Human Dilemma
About the Author
Mark Klempner is a folklorist, and oral historian. The son of an immigrant who barely escaped the Holocaust, he spent nearly a decade talking with and getting to know the Dutch rescuers in order to write The Heart Has Reasons. Klempner grew up in New York, and attended Cornell University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1997, and winning a J. William Fulbright Fellowship. In 2000, he received an M.A. in folklore from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.