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A brave Dutchman who rescued more than 600 Jewish children from the horrors of the Holocaust has died aged 107.
Johan van Hulst was the headteacher of a protestant school in Amsterdam that shared a garden hedge with a nursery where the Nazis kept young Jewish kids before taking them to the concentration camps.
During the Holocaust he helped hundreds of kids escape death by smuggling them to safety, sometimes in laundry baskets and sacks.
When the nursery became full, the Nazis would keep children - all under 12 and separated from their parents - in Hulst's school.
He avoided being captured - which would have meant certain death - by not declaring the children on the documents that he provided to the Nazis. He would write down less names than children, allowing some of them to slip through undetected.
He and some others also sought out families that the children who were being smuggled could slip into without attracting attention.
Then, in co-operation with the woman running the nursery, children would be snuck across the back hedge and into the school, where they would then be taken away to new homes and, with any luck, to safety.
His scheme was massively dangerous, and he came close to being caught on several occasions.
In 1945 his cover was blown by a collaborator and he was forced to flee and go into hiding.
After the was he was recognised as a hero and even became a member of the Netherlands' senate between 1956 and 1981 as a part of the now disbanded Christian Democratic Appeal party.
His only regret was that he couldn't save more of the children.
Speaking a few years back he said: "I actually only think about what I have not been able to do. To those few thousand children that I could not have saved."
During a visit to The Netherlands in 2012, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recognised Hulst as Righteous Among The Nations - an accolade given to non-Jewish people who risked their lives to save Jewish people during the Holocaust.
Speaking at the ceremony, Netanyahu said: "We say, those who save one life save a universe.
"You saved hundreds of universes. I want to thank you in the name of the Jewish people, but also in the name of humanity."
The Netherlands has 5,000 people considered Righteous Among The Nations, second only to Poland.
Mr van Hulst died on March 22nd 2018 in Amsterdam. A true hero. Rest in peace.
Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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