'Hard to Believe': Holocaust Survivor Reconnects With Family Who Hid Him From Nazis - NBC4 Washington

'Hard to Believe': Holocaust Survivor Reconnects With Family Who Hid Him From Nazis

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    Holocaust Survivor Reunites With Family Who Hid Him in WWII

    Two men have reunited more than 70 years after their paths made an important cross during World War II. News4's David Culver reports how the reunion started with a high school assignment. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017)

    After more than 70 years, a Holocaust survivor has reconnected with the family who risked everything to take him and his sister inside their home.

    In 1945, Tom Van Roon was a young boy in the Netherlands when two Jewish children showed up to his family's home in the middle of the night.

    The boy, Raph Berets, and his sister needed a place to hide from the Nazis. Van Roon's parents and his six siblings made room.

    "These people needed a place, so my parents decided they would take them in,” Van Roon said. “We were not to say anything in school or to my best friends, that was drilled in by my mother.”

    Van Roon never thought he would see Berets again until his grandson, Matthew Lang, turned a high school project into a personal mission.

    “I think almost every night, Opa was up looking for emails or phone numbers same as I,” Lang said.

    After weeks of chasing the wrong name, they finally connected with Berets over the phone.

    “I heard a Dutch accent, which was the only thing that made me think, well maybe I know this person,” Ralph Berets said.

    “And I said, ‘This is Tom Van Roon, you stayed at our house,’” Van Roon said.

    “I said is that really true? Really hard to believe,” said Berets.

    They quickly planned a reunion and Van Roon and his grandson and daughter decided to take a trip from their home in Canada to D.C. to meet Berets.

    “I see him already. A young man with grey hair,” Van Roon said.

    He and Berets had a warm reunion at an otherwise somber place, the U.S. Holocaust Musuem.

    Berets now lives in Arlington, Virginia, and his sister moved back to the Netherlands, never forgetting what the Van Roons did for them.

    “They were just doing what they thought was the right thing and they certainly saved our lives,” Berets said.