Humanity of Heart: The Heroism of the Nass Family during the Nazi Occupation of Brussels (1940-1945)

As Recalled by Their Daughter Nellie Marasco Aged 92

This is the story of the heroism of Jan and Melanie Nass, a Belgian couple who lived in Brussels through the Nazi Occupation of 1940-1945; of their active participation in the Resistance and their dedication at a grave risk to their own lives to shield Jewish friends and families, as recounted by their daughter, Nellie Marasco, now approaching her 93rd year.

It illustrates:

  • How Big Heart and Intelligence provided a beacon in this dark alley of human experience, the failing of either courting disaster for themselves and those they sought to protect.
  • How incarnate cruelty and evil can in certain moments themselves become blind, a phenomenon explored in brilliant detail by Pierre Sauvage in his video, Weapons of the Spirit*.
  • How Joy and Lightness can surface even in the darkest and dankest places, and that as Victor Frankl recounts in his classic Man’s Search for Meaning, how they can nourish and sustain us and keep us sane.

As the years pass we have fewer and fewer remaining accounts by the survivors of the Holocaust, and fewer still from those who protected them. We hope these brief interviews will honor the deeds of Jan and Melanie Nass who although unheralded surely deserve to be included in the Righteous Among Nations. ***

  • Nass Family Roots—Early Years in Belgium
  • The Coming Storm: Brussels 1939
  • Early Days Under the Nazi Occupation
  • The Resistance
  • In the Nick of Time: the 2nd Floor Tenants
  • A Close Call–The Coal Bin
  • Tragedy: For a Tin of Anchovies
  • Liberation
  • The Aftermath
  • Postscript: The Light Inside the Dark

Notes and References:

*Weapons of the Spirit


**Man’s Search for Meaning


***Vad Yashem

The Righteous Among the Nations, honored by Yad Vashem, are non-Jews who took great risks to save Jews during the Holocaust. Rescue took many forms and the Righteous came from different nations, religions and walks of life. What they had in common was that they protected their Jewish neighbors at a time when hostility and indifference prevailed.


****This phrase is adopted from John Tarrant’s 1998 book of the same name.


Comments Welcome

You must be logged in to post a comment.