In the early 1970s, I found a battered copy of one of the first editions of The Diary of Anne Frank between the retaining walls of our farmhouse in Putten. It became my ‘bible’. A precious treasure granted to me by something or someone greater than myself. It felt like destiny when I was chosen years later to play the role of Anne Frank. I embraced that role, made it my own, keenly aware that six million pairs of Jewish eyes were looking over my shoulder and saying to me: “Be a voice for us.”
The atrocities that unfolded across Europe between 1938 and 1945 were worse than any horror film, and any ‘Nacht und Nebel’- scenario that the human brain can conjure.
The drama of the Shoah, the concentration camps, and the attempt to wipe out an entire people is so unreal that we can hardly believe it. It happened before our very eyes, and yet we cannot comprehend that people, people just like us, could be capable of such monstrous evil. It should at the very least evoke a sense of disquiet in our hearts. An unsettled feeling that cannot be dismissed easily; a thorn that pricks unceasingly in our conscience and periodically shocks our nervous system: “Don’t forget me!”… “Act on this awareness!”... “Remember!”... “Learn from this!”
If we do not learn from the past, if we distance ourselves from the atrocities of which we, the peoples of Europe, proved capable, the blood spilled from those millions will someday catch up with us and testify against us. Perhaps not in this life, but certainly in the life that comes after.
Who has the courage to shift their course and look off the beaten path? Who dares to listen to the stories of the survivors? Who will take the time to identify with the victims, the horrors and deprivations they were forced to endure?
Who will listen to the heroes, the resistance fighters? What moved these men and women to risk their lives for others? What gave them their values and principles, so diametrically opposed to those of the death squads? Where did the fiendish plans of the perpetrators originate? Who or what inspired them?
Time to read about it... to search deeper... Not to provide answers but to ask questions.
Questions that cause pain, leave aching wounds deep in our hearts. Together we search, talk, take a moment of silence, and then attempt to drag this blazing past into the present. Find a way to translate it into our daily lives. Carry it with us, and reshape it wherever we can into something that makes a difference. Can we breathe new life into that place of suffocation and desperation, the scent of that war’s deaths, by learning from it? Where will we stand if we ever find ourselves in the midst of such a terrible fight? Among the just, who will risk their own lives to help others? Among the men and women who are worthy, loving and unselfish, letting their light shine in that dark and terrible night?
Turn around, look-listen-learn, and REMEMBER!
Janneke Wijngaarden is born in Amsterdam, on the fifth of July.
She enters primary training school in Utrecht, in order to prepare for the Arts Academy. From this time onwards, Janneke is called Jip.
As she leaves Art school, Jip auditions for the title role of Anne Frank in the Dutch theatre production The Diary of Anne Frank, directed by Jeroen Krabbé. She is chosen out of approximately 3,000 girls.
Settles in Amsterdam. She interprets the title role in the film The Diary of Anne Frank.
During the following years, until 1990, she plays in various theatre productions: the title roles in Iphigenia, written by Euripides, Yvonne, written by Gombrowicz, and Cleopatra, written by William Shakespeare, as well as the role of Electra in Mourning Becomes Electra by Eugene O'Neill. As to her film carrier, she plays Rosalie in Bij Nader Inzien (‘Second thoughts'), a television series directed by Frans Weisz; as well as a leading role in the television film Hoogvlieger (‘High Flyer'). Besides, she writes columns for a radio broadcasting company. She is co-founder the theatre group De Zaak (‘The Business'), in which she performs as an actress and sometimes works as a stage and costume designer.
Takes a course at the Vincent van Gogh Museum in drawing from models.
Costume designer and stage designer for the Dutch theatre production Philoctetes.
Plays Sien Hoornik in an American film about the life of Vincent van Gogh, directed by Robert Altman. Part of the film production takes place in France, and it is there that Jip meets her future husband; sound technician Philippe Combes.
Moves to Paris and marries Philippe. While Robert Altman invites her to come to Hollywood, Jip starts to ask serious questions about the meaning of life. Together, she and Philippe search for authenticity, truth and security. Having been touched by the person and message of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua, and having put their faith in him, they turn their backs on the world of glitter and glamour.
1991 Jip is baptized. Trusting in the God of Israel and studying his Word is like a ‘coming home' experience. While she finds her place in the Christian community, she keeps insisting on returning to the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith. Her life is changed profoundly, often through pain and struggle.
Jip and Philippe move to Sergy, a little French border town near Geneva. She writes a theater monologue, based on a letter from a book by Etty Hillesum in which this Jewess relates her experiences in a Dutch concentration camp during the Second World War. A few years later, she performs it in Strasbourg.
Jip is in involved in preparing a documentary about the Shoah, which is partly recorded in Israel.
Plays a minor role in the French film La coline aux milles enfants (‘The Hill of Thousand Children')
Begins studying Hebrew in the Jewish Community Centre in Geneva. Plays a major role in a film for television film, directed by Mark Timmer.
From now on, she takes up painting more seriously. Her first works are inspired by the theme: Israel and the Bible.
Jan Wijngaarden, Jip's beloved father. During his life he was a surgeon.
She takes a course in drawing from a model, at the Geneva' Arts Academy.
In May, an exhibition of works inspired by the Shoah is staged in the former synagogue of Kampen. It is the first time her work receives public attention. The printed catalogue was entitled Boulevard des déportés.
From now on, she no longer uses her actress name Jip, but only her real name, albeit written in the French way: Yanneke.
In November of the same year, there is an exhibition of her work in the Etty Hillesum Centre in Deventer.
In March, a large-scale exhibition is staged in the Great (liberal) Synagogue of Groningen. This is followed by a memorial exhibition in Ermelo, which includes a power point presentation in the local theatre.
In July and August, there is an exhibition in the little (orthodox) Synagogue of Aalten.
Under the title De tijd stond stil (‘Time was standing still'), a large-scale exhibition is staged in the beautiful orthodox Synagogue of Enschede. Some 3,000 visitors signed the register.
Yanneke studies etching techniques in a studio in Rolle, a nearby Swiss town.
She prepares a new series of paintings for an important exhibition at the occasion of the inauguration of a Jewish Historical Museum in the restored Synagogue of Elburg, a beautiful historic Dutch town.
While the preparation for the exhibition in Elburg continues, Yanneke gives presentations of her work in France, Switzerland and Austria.
In June, the exhibition "Your people, My people" is opened in the museum of Elburg, accompanied by a beautiful catalog of all her work. The opening is associated with the Synagoge of Elburg which becomes a Jewish museum.
In the spring of 2009 Jip comes back in the great Synagoge of Groningen with the exhibition "Your people, My people". Beside her exhibitions she cooperate on a Dutch tv show "On three donkeys". An art program where she, with two other artist travels through Israel and makes 5 paintings about different subjects in the land. At home in France Jip and Philippe are building a new workshop annex to their house.
On the 29th of April Jip presents the gala of the 50th anniversary of the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam with as special quest the Dutch queen, Beatrix. Once back in France, she gets hit by a car from the back. Since that accident she suffers more and more from pain in her back. Besides this handicap Jip is painting a lot, but an assignment to illustrate a children's Bible she has to give back due to her health problem.
In February she is brought to the hospital in urgency. After a difficult period of waiting and undergoing all kinds of tests she finally can't walk anymore and is operated with success.
Litlle by little Jip is recovering and starts working again. On the 13d of June the inauguration of the new part of the synagogue in Elburg (little Jewish museum) is celebrated with new work of Jip. "I will never forget you" is the name of the exhibition. The opening is done by Princes Máxima and is a big feast. The exhibition is a great success and almost 11,000 visitors are coming to see her work. In the meantime, paintings from the series "Boulevard des Déportés" are hanging in the centre "Christian friends of Israel" in Nijkerk.
Operation on Jip’s neck. Exhibition entitled ‘Please Come Home For Sabbath’ in the great synagogue of Groningen.
Jip paints a new series of paintings and works on her book Ancient Paths.
Exhibition in the Old Church of Delft and later that year in Museum shul Elburg.
Exhibition in the Gutenberg museum of Fribourg, Switzerland. Print of her book, Tree of Life in Dutch-English and German-French.