Dutch forensic investigators identify Jewish resistance hero 80 years after execution

Dutch Communist Party and People’s Militia member Bernard Luza joined the resistance after 1940 Nazi occupation of the Netherlands; was put to death 3 years later

Bernard Luza. (The Netherlands Defense Ministry)
Bernard Luza. (The Netherlands Defense Ministry)

THE HAGUE — Eighty years after his execution by Nazi occupiers, Dutch forensic investigators have finally identified the mysterious remains of a man as that of a Jewish resistance hero named Bernard Luza, investigators said Wednesday.

Luza, 39, was shot by firing squad in 1943 after he and hundreds of other Jews and their relatives were arrested following a raid on a factory in northern Amsterdam on November 11, 1942.

His body was discovered in 1945 in a grave with four others, buried at a shooting range near Schiphol Airport.

Two of the bodies were quickly identified, and a third in 2013. But the two others, including that of Luza, remained a mystery.

“Now, through the use of DNA technology employed in a relationship study, his (Luza’s) remains were finally identified,” said Geert Jonker, head of the Dutch defence ministry’s forensic unit specializing in identifying human remains.

“It happened after a cousin of Luza was traced in Australia,” Jonker told AFP.

“After more than 80 years, his relatives finally have certainty about the fate of their missing family member.

“We are happy that we could give Luza’s relatives some clarity on what happened to him,” Jonker said.

Luza, a member of the Dutch Communist Party and People’s Militia, joined the resistance after the May 10, 1940 Nazi occupation.

“Seen as the leader of a resistance group, Luza was accused of distributing an illegal underground newspaper and calling on people to commit sabotage,” the defense ministry said in a statement.

“He was sentenced to death after his arrest in late 1942 and a last appeal for clemency was turned down,” it said.

Luza was executed on February 15, 1943, by firing squad.

His wife Clara and young daughter Eva were murdered in the Sobibor concentration camp after the raid. His father Solomon and five of his brothers and sisters also perished in the Auschwitz and Sobibor death camps.

More than 100,000 Dutch Jews were killed during World War II.

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