Posthumous honor for Saba-born Jewish nurse Thelma Polak

Posthumous honor for Saba-born Jewish nurse Thelma Polak
The plaque for Thelma Esther Polak was unveiled at the war monument in Saba

THE BOTTOM—Thelma Esther Polak, the Saba-born Jewish nurse who was murdered at concentration camp Sobibor in 1943, was honored posthumously on Sunday, December 19 with the unveiling of a plaque in her commemoration at the World War II memorial site in The Bottom.

Organized by Judith Meijer, in daily life Director of Saba Cares, the foundation that runs the A.M. Edwards Medical Center, and former Director of the Jewish Social Work foundation in Amsterdam, a small group of people gathered at the war memorial on the birthday of Nurse Thelma, exactly 101 years after she was born on Saba on December 19, 1920 as the daughter of Maurice Polak, a doctor from Suriname who came to Saba to work.

With the flags flying at half mast, Meijer welcomed the persons in attendance. “Before I moved to Saba, almost a year ago, I read about Thelma Polak’s life on Jewish Holocaust memorial websites, such as Yad Vashem. After moving to Saba, I discovered that there was nothing on Saba in her remembrance. This didn’t feel right, not only because she was born on Saba to Jewish parents, but also because she was very proud to be a Saban girl. So, it felt like my duty to tell her story here on Saba, which I did on several occasions. 

Back home

Today it feels like we are bringing her back home with this ceremony and placing the memorial,” said Meijer, who first brought up Thelma’s story during the Nurse’s Week church service in May this year.

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