Posts Tagged ‘Diet Eman’

NEW BOOKLET TRACT: Christians in Holland in 1941: “Should We Help Save the Jews?” (Obey God or Man)

Christians in Holland in 1941: “Should We Help Save the Jews?” (Obey God or Man) written by Diet Eman is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Christians in Holland in 1941: “Should We Help Save the Jews?” (Obey God or Man), click here. 

Christians in Holland in 1941: “Should We Help Save the Jews?” (Obey God or Man)

By Diet Eman

Editor’s Note: Diet Eman was a young Christian woman when Hitler invaded Holland. As the Nazi war machine for an Aryan society overtook her country and the persecution of Jews became evident, Christians in Holland were compelled to ask themselves, “Should we obey the Nazi government or should we help save the Jews?”

1941 Holland
It was no more than a few months after the Occupation [of the Nazis in Holland] began that we realized there were things that simply had to be done. When we saw injustice, we all felt it; we couldn’t just sit there and do nothing. But what could we do? The atrocities toward the Jews all around were beginning, and we felt it was our duty to act in some way. But it took time for us to know exactly what, when, and how we could do something.

Right from the beginning, the Occupation created ambiguities, arguments, and difficult struggles within Christian circles. When Jesus lived, His country was occupied by the Romans, and everyone remembered what He said: “Give Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Jesus Christ never preached rebellion against the Romans. Part of the moral struggle was the belief that what had happened in our little country was in fact ordained by God: some people claimed we shouldn’t interfere with what went on because the Occupation itself was God’s will. Even my brother was originally inclined to think that one simply could not work against the Germans if one followed the teachings of Scripture.

The queen and the government had left for England in the early moments of the five-day invasion; there was a whole group in Holland who said the queen had no right to lead us anymore, and those of us who remained behind would be required to obey the government that God had given us now—that is, the Germans. But Hein, my fiancé, and I and many others felt our royal family had been crowned in a religious ceremony, with the words “by the grace of God.” We felt the queen was our rightful government, and we felt we were doing what the Lord wanted when we obeyed her. That’s why, later in the Occupation when the queen actually told the Dutch to go on strike against the Germans, we did it, although our actions cost many lives.

Many people in our church felt that the queen was still our head, not the Nazi puppets. Meanwhile the church we called the “black-stocking church” leaned toward the other point of view—that our burden was to be in subjection to whatever higher powers God had placed over us. People who took that point of view were never very strong in the Resistance because they thought resistance against the established government was, quite simply, sin.

Those were the kinds of arguments we used to hear, and we would even have them among ourselves during those early days of the Occupation. We had especially good arguments at the home of one of my fellow bank employees, a man named Platteel. We talked about how we were to live now in this new arrangement with the Germans. He was older than I was, in his thirties, and was married with two little kids.

In those early days, members of the Platteel group would advise everyone what passages to read from the Bible, what Scriptures we should consider when we were trying to reflect morally about our new national situation.

Some of the early Resistance people would sit down and take passages from the Bible that clearly showed the direction we as Christians ought to take. Then they would write those passages on pieces of paper and pass those notes around. A little note would say, “Read this passage, or that one.” Mr. Platteel would give me such a note, passing it along after copying it many times. There were no copy machines in those days, so who knows how many times he wrote that out and gave it to someone? He would often distribute lists of readings on his own, and even that small gesture would be an encouragement, a direction for us to go in. Such little things were important because such little things gave our hearts strength.

We all felt terrible about what was happening around us. Hein and I would sit down and ask ourselves, “What can we do?” We always talked about it together and then discussed how we felt with a few more people at my bank or at his office, people who thought the same way we did.

The Beginning of Resistance
Once the Occupation began, the Germans began to make all kinds of rules: we were not allowed to listen to the BBC, for instance, though any number of people still did it secretly, of course. And then came the next order in the newspapers: “Everybody has to surrender their radios.” Radios, in those days, were the size of televisions today; nobody had little pocket-sized appliances. So deciding whether or not to give them up to the Germans was a big decision. And the Germans made it very clear that if you didn’t deliver your radios to them, you could be thrown in prison. People became very scared. In the Netherlands, people were accustomed to liberty; nobody had ever told us what to do before.
This is what we thought: “Do we simply obey those miserable Huns?” The question “Are we going to obey?” had to be asked and answered, asked and answered, over and over again. Some brave people would make a hole in the wall of their homes, put in a shelf, and then place a radio in that hiding place and hang a painting or a mirror over it.

Every evening at eight o’clock, the BBC sent out information about the progress of the war and other matters. If you lived on a main street of the city, somebody from the family would walk the dog or just walk down the street to be sure there was no spy around. By that time, there already were Dutch cowards—those who sided with the Germans—who had started to make money by turning in their own countrymen. If they betrayed you by pointing the Nazis to your house, they made good money. Once those kinds of sides had formed, the real danger started: the Underground against the informers.

The Germans continued to say, “You are not allowed to do this, and you are not allowed to do that.” They made prohibitory laws against just about everything, and they reported the news in such a crooked way that everyone assumed what we heard was just plain wrong. So we knew the BBC on the radio was our only source of reliable news. Those of us who met to discuss what could be done were a very few people then, very few. Because many people were intimidated by the Germans and did hand in their radios, we knew that few of those people were hearing the real news of the war, the news from England. Thus, our first act of disobedience was listening to the BBC, taking down the real news in shorthand, typing it out, and spreading it around. That was the beginning of most Resistance groups. If you were caught doing that, of course, you went to prison. But we did it anyway.

In The Hague, we were surrounded by Germans immediately. They were everywhere, marching and just standing around on street corners. Even where you worked, you had to be careful about what you said because a lot of people in the office were pro-German, some of whom you never would have suspected.

My heart nearly broke because my two dear girlfriends, Rie and Jet, the friends, my age, with whom I went jumping sloten and climbing trees and had so much in common—these best friends wouldn’t think for a moment about resistance. As a matter of fact, my brother Albert had a crush on Jet, so those girls were always in our house. Albert and Jet were friends, and I was dating Hein; Rie’s boyfriend, Paul, lived on our street, and his sister Jopie came along too. We were all the same age, and we formed a club called the Malakka Club, because we lived on Malakka Street, named after a part of Malaysia. We were always together on Saturdays, and it was quite a mixture: Jet, Rie, and Daniel were Christian, as were Albert and I and Gerald, another friend; but all the rest of the kids were of different faiths. There were even two brothers of a family who had no religion, Stan and Henk van Eekelen. Of the two, one became a fanatical communist, the other one a fanatical Nazi, of all things; two brothers in the same house, two completely different views of the world!

Even before the war, my parents would often have Dutch soldiers over on Sunday. We lived beside an armory, and we would have several soldiers come to the house for dinner and to play the organ and sing. My parents thought that was one way to support our boys.

Jet’s family didn’t invite boys from the armory into their home. Her family belonged to our church, but they had six kids, and they would say, “Yeah, yeah, our family is too busy. We can’t do that.” We accepted their decision. But they were really the same kind of people we were: they attended the same church and had the same basic beliefs. In fact, their father did the same work as my father did; they were sort of competitors. After church on Sundays, the girls would come to my house, and we would play Ping-Pong or sjoelbak (shuffleboard), or we would play four-handed piano.

But one Sunday, just a few weeks after the war broke out, I entered their house, and there above the piano hung a portrait of Hitler! In addition, German soldiers were in their house that night. Jet’s family was doing for German soldiers what we had done for the Dutch boys before the war. Now, after the Occupation had begun, they could do it for the enemy.

Soon after that, something else happened that hurt me very much. I had decorated my bicycle at that time by putting a little patriotic red-white-and-blue flag on it. Every night I rode home from the center of the city on my bike with the flag waving. One day Jet’s brother Daniel ripped the flag off my bike. I was so deeply hurt that I wrote them a letter. “Until that picture is gone”—I meant that picture of Hitler—“I’ll never set foot in your house again,” I told them. I said I was angry, “because you had no place for the Dutch soldiers who gave their lives for our country, and now you treat the guys who have come into this country, totally uninvited, with hospitality.”

July 1941

Dear Rie and Jet: Sometimes I would so very much like to know how you are doing. Sometimes I long so much for both of you. Especially when I look at our vacation photos. Then I can barely take it that things are now the way they are. You had such a large place in my heart, and I loved you both, more than even Fanny. You probably are playing a lot of piano, eh, Jet? And what is Rie doing? I have the feeling that I barely know you anymore. Nel, Bram’s girlfriend, sometimes laughs and makes movements, and then I am thinking: “Who does she remind me of?—somebody does it just the same.” And now I know it, Rie—it is you. When you were teasing someone, you laughed just like Nel does.

Did I do wrong in breaking with you? Would it have been my task to still try to keep you? Was it wrong that I did not want to come to your house any longer? Also not to be considered a traitor? I spoke to Taverne, [a man I helped] and he said, “The light may not be in communion with the dark forces.”

I wish I was a light, but I am only a little flickering flame. I am so happy that Nel now came into my life; I still don’t know her, but I feel that she will be able to replace something that I lost when I lost you. (from the diary of Diet Eman)

To this day, I don’t understand their way of thinking. That family was so similar to ours in beliefs—same church, same profession, and same standard of living. Maybe I never knew what those people were really like. When we were younger, maybe we were just having too much fun. We never talked about important things, about politics; we never talked about serious things at all. We just had fun. I never knew them inside, I suppose. But maybe there was more to all of it. Those girls were my best friends, so I’ve often thought about what happened.

Hein and I and the group that met at Platteel’s felt very strongly that what we were doing was right, both with our consciences and with God. What we were certain of was that there were things happening in our country that were wrong. But it was so difficult to know what to do. At first, we didn’t know where to start. At that time, the Germans had not yet started persecuting the Jews. What had aroused us was other things: laws against radios; rules about what we could listen to; laws forcing us to hand in copper, brass, and other metals; laws against everything. We the people of the Netherlands were accustomed to being free.

July 7, 1941

Did not write in a long time and much has happened during that time. Two weeks ago, Russia joined. All metal has to be handed in. Political parties have to be dissolved. Their monies have to be handed in. Many arrests among the Roman Catholics. And we are getting accustomed to this—that is the very worst of all. And also, I forget to see this all happens with God’s permission.

I keep looking at the injustice—so this man rang the doorbell at the home; our country and people are suffering, but I forget that You allow trials on this earth.

Teach me to see that this too is You, who carries everything in Your strong hands. Then I can even be happy knowing that You are fulfilling Your plans. Keep me from saying so many things, which are not pleasing to You. Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, and keep watch over the door of my lips. (from the diary of Diet Eman)

The Germans would print rules in the newspaper and broadcast them over the radio. They put up little signs on trains: “Be careful what you say.” That’s always what the Germans told each other: “Be careful with your conversations. The enemy is listening in.” Of course, we were the enemy, and they were reminding their military that they should not talk about military things, because we would hear it. Then they began designating certain cars on the trains as belonging only to them. At that time in the Netherlands, only the very rich had automobiles, and there was no gas. So the trains were a vital means of transportation. Everyone had bicycles, of course, but if you needed to go some distance, you usually took the train. What they did was this: if it was a train of six cars, say, they would take two cars for themselves. They would put big signs on those cars: Nur für Wehrmacht (“Only for the German army”).

When the Germans marked specific cars, those cars would almost always be empty, and the Dutch people had to stuff themselves into the one or two cars left for them. One time I fainted on the train, and I could not fall to the floor: there were too many people. I hung there, even though I had fainted dead away. Hein saw that I had fainted, but he was standing so far away from me that he could not get through the crowd. You were simply happy if you got on the train at all, never mind if you stayed together. We were already doing Underground work and were heading to Nijkerk on that day, and I fainted shortly after we left The Hague.

The train stopped in Voorburg for two minutes, and the people around me saw me hanging there, green probably; and when the doors opened, they shoved me onto the platform. The doors closed, and the train simply left without me! Hein could not get to me. He had seen me lying there on the platform, but he was caught in his car because everyone was so cramped in. The train went all the way to Utrecht with him on it and me lying on the platform at Voorburg.

The way the Germans abused the railroad made me very angry, especially later, when I had to do so much traveling on those packed trains for the Resistance. So one time I walked right into one of those empty cars where the paper message (written in both German and Dutch) Nur fur Wehrmacht/Gereserveerd voor Duitsche Weermacht was stuck on the windows. I stood there with my back against the window, and behind my back, I ripped the message off completely. Immediately, of course, the whole car filled up with Dutch people. That time, at least, the Dutch people had one extra car on their own train.

The Inevitable Answer Comes
An officer at the bank I worked at by the name of Gitz used to give me occasional hints: “I have heard some people are actually taking these Jews and hiding them,” he said to me one day, as if it was an incredible shock that such a thing was being done. At that date, to be sure, it wasn’t really done often. There were onderduikers already by that time, people who “dove under,” went into hiding under a false name. But even hiding onderduikers was all very new then. Gitz was a man with whom I had a lot to do at the bank. “Have you heard of people who are in the Resistance and who then have to go into hiding?” he asked me in a rather casual way.

“Ja, I’ve heard about that,” I said, also very casually.

He often attempted to read my own feelings about the whole situation in that way, and I always was wary of him and his interest, even though, later on, he gave me more tips on people who were in the Underground and in other organizations. So Gitz helped me to get started, but always in a very guarded way. It wasn’t easy to bring these things up with people you didn’t know well: the price for being wrong about who could be trusted was very, very high.

Working together was absolutely required if our movement was going to grow. One of my uncles, my mother’s brother, lived in The Hague and was doing important work for the Resistance when he showed interest in us. He worked for a printing outfit, which was ideal because he could secretly print the things we needed badly. He had his own contacts, so our circle grew because of our contact with him and his printing press.

When we started the dangerous work of trying to hide Jews, Herman, a Jewish man I worked with at the bank, told me about his Uncle Frits, who was doing all kinds of things for the Resistance. “Would you like to meet him?” he asked.

This Uncle Frits was not Jewish, but he had married Lena, Herman’s mother’s sister. Because his wife, his whole family, and all his relatives on his wife’s side were in danger—being Jewish—he began to work hard for the Resistance. Uncle Frits had a strong sense of what was right and wrong.

He started doing all sorts of things with us. He came to the meetings at Platteel’s, and, of course, he had even more contacts, including an accountant and his wife, Jenny, who was a housewife and very active and eager to work in the Underground. So at one point we had a big group of resisters in The Hague, and soon there were many things we could do.

This is what happened: when it became apparent that the Nazis were really starting to go after Jewish people, we saw our task. Up until that time we had been groping around with the constant question, “What can we do?” But after the seizure of Jews became clear, that was simply not a question anymore. Our objective became very clear: to find places for Jews wherever we could.

When we formed ourselves into a Resistance group, we called ourselves “Group HEIN”; but the name had nothing to do with my fiancé’s name. It was an acronym formed from the first letters of Help Elkander in Nood, which means “helping each other in need.” Hein was one of the two leaders; the other was Ab van Meerveld, an old friend of his from The Veluwe, the part of the country where Hein had been raised and where his family still lived.

Our first activities consisted of spreading reliable news and trying to get people to England. Such efforts seemed to be so small, and we were such ordinary people. But then our work started growing. And other small groups started to form in those early months. The Resistance was simply made up of people who were opposed to what was happening in the Occupation.

Distrust and suspicion surrounded us all the time. Young men could be stopped at any time on the streets and conscripted by the Germans. Germany was so short on manpower, their men spread over the whole of Europe as Occupation forces, that at home they had only young kids under fourteen and very old men. So they made it a rule that young able-bodied men of the countries they occupied had to go work in Germany. First, it was an invitation; later, it was forced labor. Those men were placed in factories, which became dangerous places when the Allies got involved, because they would often drop their bombs on those factories. Few Dutch men wanted to go to Germany to help the enemy; so our work began as an effort to hide not only Jews but also the onderduikers, Dutch men hiding for other reasons, such as to escape having to go work in Germany. The necessity of that effort had become very clear to us.

The razzias (the Gestapo raids) began to take place after the Germans were already coming after the Jews; but our trying to help the onderduikers really started at about the same time that we started hiding Jews. When the Germans started taking other people too—not just Jewish men for forced labor camps—then the queen, in a radio broadcast, made it very clear to us that Dutch men should not go to Germany. Once again, just as with the confiscation of radios, Dutch people had to make a difficult choice. I realize now that a lot of people were simply very afraid; and many just obeyed all those crazy German rules.

Many men did go to Germany, but many others went into hiding. They worked on farms or did what they could in hiding; some worked in the Underground. No one had any inkling that the war would last for five years. At first, we really thought it would last only a year. We thought, “These are modern times, after all, and this horrible barbarism will be defeated quickly.”

I don’t believe the Germans ever really understood the Dutch people. As small as the Netherlands is, it has many different small religious denominations, for example. For centuries the Dutch have said, “If we don’t agree with what you preach, then we’ll start our own church.” Some people, even in the Netherlands, think of such splintering in the church as wrong. But it also means that the Dutch have a long tradition of thinking for themselves, not just swallowing what officials tell them. They have a tradition of not being merely followers, as the Germans seemed to me to be. Our not following orders made life difficult for the Germans, more difficult than they had thought it would be. They had to treat us as if they were balancing on a tightrope. A German named Seyss-Inquart, the Nazi in charge of the Netherlands, tried to convince us that we belonged to the great Aryan race and that we should be overjoyed that we’d been accepted. But, quite simply, many Dutch people never followed orders.

Editor’s Note: Diet Eman was part of the Christian resistance movement in Holland until the war ended in 1945. Her decision to resist the Nazis persecution of the Jewish people held a high price. During the Occupation, Diet was imprisoned, and before the war ended most of the young men in Group HEIN died. Today, now in her nineties, Diet continues to testify of what she witnessed during World War II, speaking of God’s faithfulness even in the midst of tragedy. And though the price to hide Jews to shield them from Hitler’s final solution was dear for her and her friends, Diet knew it was the right thing to do.

To order copies of Christians in Holland in 1941: “Should We Help Save the Jews?” (Obey God or Man), click here. 

An “Enlightened” Race?

by Caryl Matrisciana

The Germany of the 1920s and 1930s was in social and economic despair, looking for a leader who would free her from the Great Depression. The man with the promise of hope was Adolph Hitler. A man with an affinity for the occult and “an abiding belief in astrology,”1 he claimed he was ordained by God to usher in one thousand years of peace and prosperity with a super race of humans. A student of Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine (the Theosophical Society’s “bible”), Hitler manipulated an entire nation to surrender its collective mind to him.2

Madame BlavatskyAryanism, the belief in a super-race, is a foundational teaching of Hinduism’s caste system. It was also Hitler’s twisted rationale for the annihilation of six million Jews and additional millions of other “impure” racial and societal strains. This same attitude of elitism breeds the New Age viewpoint of man’s coming “quantum leap in the evolution of consciousness” that will create a new “awakened” and “enlightened” race.3 But there won’t be any room for those who resist this transformed mystical world.

Gurus excuse away the madness and cruelty of the Holocaust as being the result of inadequate karma. Even Gandhi pleaded with the British to surrender to Hitler. “Hitler is not a bad man,” he told them.4 (photo to the right – Madame Blavatsky)

Neale Donald Walsch, in one of his popular Conversations with God books, said God told him the following:

I do not love “good” more than I love “bad.” Hitler went to heaven. When you understand this, you will understand God.5

Hitler didn’t hurt anyone. In a sense, he didn’t inflict suffering, he ended it.6

The mistakes Hitler made did no harm or damage to those whose deaths he caused. Those souls were released from their earthly bondage, like butterflies emerging from a cocoon.7

I find it astounding that even though Walsch made such statements, his Conversations with God books remained on the New York Times Best Seller List for over two years, selling millions of copies. While most people would say that what happened in Germany under Hitler was an atrocity that must never be repeated, the New Age is conditioning people toward the same mindset. Those who refuse to be enlightened or awakened (to the divinity within) stand in the way of the world’s healing and need to be removed. Barbara Marx Hubbard, a prolific New Age author and speaker, calls this the selection process.8

To Westerners, the swastika symbolizes Nazism, but to the Hindu, it is a very familiar symbol of power, still seen today in many Indian temples. In true New Age spirit, the Fuhrer saw himself as a global leader and adopted it. In his madness for world power and domination, Hitler stated:

I had to encourage “national” feelings for reasons of expediency; but I was already aware that the “nation” idea could only have a temporary value. The day will come when even here in Germany what is known as “nationalism” will practically have ceased to exist. What will take its place in the world will be a universal society of masters and overlords.9

Most people don’t think of Hitler as a New Ager or certainly not a Hindu, but his philosophy on the “divinity” of man was right in line with the pantheistic view:

A new variety of man is beginning to separate out. The old type of man will have but a stunted existence. All creative energy will be concentrated in the new one. . . . I might call the two varieties [of man] the god-man and the mass animal. . . . Man is becoming God–that is the simple fact. Man is God in the making.10

If virtually an entire country in the 1930s could be deceived and mesmerized by Adolph Hitler, how much more vulnerable is our generation–a generation that has embraced mysticism and New Age philosophy so willingly?

As a young woman, Diet Eman joined the Dutch resistance movement during World War II. In her compelling true story, Things We Couldn’t Say, she makes an interesting comparison between the Dutch and German people at that time:

[T]he Dutch have a long tradition of thinking for themselves, not just swallowing what officials tell them. They have a tradition of not being merely followers, as the Germans seemed to me to be. Our not following orders made life difficult for the Germans, more difficult than they had thought it would be. They had to treat us as if they were balancing on a tightrope. A German named Seyss-Inquart, the Nazi in charge of the Netherlands, tried to convince us that we belonged to the great Aryan race and that we should be overjoyed that we’d been accepted. But, quite simply, many Dutch people never followed orders.11

I see many similarities in the United States, and in the Western world at large, to German society in the 1930s. Christians by the carloads rush from one conference to another to learn about community, leadership, small groups, and the like. But I propose that what they are getting isn’t training to be good leaders but rather subtle induction to being good followers, lulled to lay aside independent thinking. “Follow, follow, follow!” chants the chorus of today’s leaders, all the while singing the praises of Eastern concepts and mystical practices. Our way of thinking–and not thinking–is being radically altered, and the majority of people, including Christians, don’t even see what is happening. (Extracted from Out of India by Caryl Matrisciana, pp. 213-216)

Notes:
1. William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York NY: Simon & Schuster, First Touchstone edition, 1981), p. 837.
2. Paul and Phillip Collins, The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship (Book Surge, LLC, 2006), p. 86.
3. Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now (Novato, CA: New World Library and Vancouver, BC: Namaste Publishing, First paperback printing, 2004), p. 67; terms “awakened” and “enlightened” throughout book.
4. Richard Grenier, “The Gandhi Nobody Knows,” (“Commentary,” March 1983, published monthly by the American Jewish Committee, New York, NY, http://history.eserver.org/ghandi-nobody-knows.txt, accessed 8/2008).
5. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God, Book 1 (New York, NY: Penguin Putnam, First Hardcover edition, 1996), p. 61.
6. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God, Book 2 (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Road Publishing Company, 1997), p. 56.
7. Ibid., p. 42.
8. For more information on Barbara Marx Hubbard’s “selection process,” read WarrenB.  Smith’s False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care?
9. Jim Keith, Casebook on Alternative 3 (Lilbum, GA: IllumiNet Press, 1994), p. 151.
10. Hermann Rauschning, Hitler Speaks (Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2006), p.p. 241-242.
11. Diet Eman, Things We Couldn’t Say (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, LLC, 2008), p. 126.

Holland -1941: Should We Help Save the Jews?

LTRP Note: The following is an excerpt from Diet Eman’s book, Things We Couldn’t Say. Diet was part of the Christian resistance movement in Holland during World War II. Her group was responsible for hiding and saving Jewish people from Hitler’s “final solution.” Today, at 92, Diet still shares her story with others.

A little bit different from last year’s Easter! Then we were in the midst of war and now that horror is over. O God, still we were closer to You then. And did not this all happen to bring us closer to You? How can it be that all of us are getting so bitter, and that we feel guilty under Your heavy hand.

Send Lord, Your light and Your truth. Never did we know what truth meant until now, when we are surrounded by lies. Bah, what an atmosphere around us—and are we the “lights” in the darkness, like You commanded us to be? There is no difference between me and the world. Am I of the world? Sometimes I am afraid that I am. Please loosen me from that, O Lord. from the diary of Diet Eman

 1941 Holland

It was no more than a few months after the Occupation [of the Nazis in Holland] began that we realized there were things that simply had to be done. When we saw injustice, we all felt it; we couldn’t just sit there and do nothing. But what could we do? The atrocities toward the Jews all around were beginning, and we felt it was our duty to act in some way. But it took time for us to know exactly what, when, and how we could do something.

Right from the beginning, the Occupation created ambiguities, arguments, and difficult struggles within Christian circles. When Jesus lived, His country was occupied by the Romans, and everyone remembered what He said: “Give Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Jesus Christ never preached rebellion against the Romans. Part of the moral struggle was the belief that what had happened in our little country was in fact ordained by God: some people claimed that we shouldn’t interfere with what went on because the Occupation itself was God’s will. Even my brother was originally inclined to think that one simply could not work against the Germans if one followed the teachings of Scripture.

The queen and the government had left for England in the early moments of the five-day invasion; there was a whole group in Holland who said the queen had no right to lead us anymore, and those of us who remained behind would be required to obey the government that God had given us now—that is, the Germans. But Hein, my fiancé, and I and many others felt our royal family had been crowned in a religious ceremony, with the words “by the grace of God.” We felt the queen was our rightful government, and we felt we were doing what the Lord wanted when we obeyed her. That’s why, later in the Occupation when the queen actually told the Dutch to go on strike against the Germans, we did it, although our actions cost many lives.

Many people in our church felt that the queen was still our head, not the Nazi puppets. Meanwhile the church we called the “black-stocking church” leaned toward the other point of view—that our burden was to be in subjection to whatever higher powers God had placed over us. People who took that point of view were never very strong in the Resistance because they thought resistance against the established government was, quite simply, sin.

banner

Diet and Hein

Those were the kinds of arguments we used to hear, and we would even have them among ourselves during those early days of the Occupation. We had especially good arguments at the home of one of my fellow bank employees, a man named Platteel. We talked about how we were to live now in this new arrangement with the Germans. He was older than I was, in his thirties, and was married with two little kids.

In those early days, members of the Platteel group would advise everyone what passages to read from the Bible, what Scriptures we should consider when we were trying to reflect morally about our new national situation.

Some of the early Resistance people would sit down and take passages from the Bible that clearly showed the direction that we as Christians ought to take. Then they would write those passages on pieces of paper, and pass those notes around. A little note would say, “Read this passage, or that one.” Mr. Platteel would give me such a note, passing it along after copying it many times. There were no copy machines in those days, so who knows how many times he wrote that out and gave it to someone? He would often distribute lists of readings on his own, and even that small gesture would be an encouragement, a direction for us to go in. Such little things were important because such little things gave our hearts strength.

We all felt terrible about what was happening around us. Hein and I would sit down and ask ourselves, “What can we do?” We always talked about it together, and then discussed how we felt with a few more people at my bank or at his office, people who thought the same way we did.

Once the Occupation began, the Germans began to make all kinds of rules: we were not allowed to listen to the BBC, for instance, though any number of people still did it secretly, of course. And then came the next order in the newspapers: “Everybody has to surrender their radios.” Radios, in those days, were the size of televisions today; nobody had little pocket-sized appliances. So deciding whether or not to give them up to the Germans was a big decision. And the Germans made it very clear that if you didn’t deliver your radios to them, you could be thrown in prison. People became very scared. In the Netherlands, people were accustomed to liberty; nobody had ever told us what to do before.

This is what we thought: “Do we simply obey those miserable Huns?” The question “Are we going to obey?” had to be asked and answered, asked and answered, over and over again. Some brave people would make a hole in the wall of their homes, put in a shelf, and then place a radio in that hiding place and hang a painting or a mirror over it.

Every evening at eight o’clock, the BBC sent out information about the progress of the war and other matters. If you lived on a main street of the city, somebody from the family would walk the dog or just walk down the street to be sure there was no spy around. By that time, there already were Dutch cowards—those who sided with the Germans—who had started to make money by turning in their own countrymen. If they betrayed you by pointing the Nazis to your house, they made good money. Once those kinds of sides had formed, the real danger started: the Underground against the informers.

jewish-family

A Jewish Family being “deported” from Holland to Germany to the death camps

The Germans continued to say, “You are not allowed to do this, and you are not allowed to do that.” They made prohibitory laws against just about everything, and they reported the news in such a crooked way that everyone assumed what we heard was just plain wrong. So we knew the BBC on the radio was our only source of reliable news. Those of us who met to discuss what could be done were a very few people then, very few. Because many people were intimidated by the Germans and did hand in their radios, we knew that few of those people were hearing the real news of the war, the news from England. Thus, our first act of disobedience was listening to the BBC, taking down the real news in shorthand, typing it out, and spreading it around. That was the beginning of most Resistance groups. If you were caught doing that, of course, you went to prison. But we did it anyway.

In The Hague, we were surrounded by Germans immediately. They were everywhere, marching and just standing around on street corners. Even where you worked, you had to be careful about what you said because a lot of people in the office were pro-German, some of whom you never would have suspected. 

My heart nearly broke because my two dear girlfriends, Rie and Jet, the friends my age with whom I went jumping sloten and climbing trees and had so much in common—these best friends wouldn’t think for a moment about resistance. As a matter of fact, my brother Albert had a crush on Jet, so those girls were always in our house. Albert and Jet were friends, and I was dating Hein; Rie’s boyfriend, Paul, lived on our street, and his sister Jopie came along too. We were all the same age and we formed a club called the Malakka Club, because we lived on Malakka Street, named after a part of Malaysia. We were always together on Saturdays, and it was quite a mixture: Jet, Rie, and Daniel were Christian, as were Albert and I and Gerald, another friend; but all the rest of the kids were of different faiths. There were even two brothers of a family who had no religion, Stan and Henk van Eekelen. Of the two, one became a fanatical communist, the other one a fanatical Nazi, of all things; two brothers in the same house, two completely different views of the world!

Even before the war, my parents would often have Dutch soldiers over on Sunday. We lived beside an armory, and we would have several soldiers come to the house for dinner, and to play the organ and sing. My parents thought that was one way to support our boys.

Jet’s family didn’t invite boys from the armory into their home. Her family belonged to our church, but they had six kids, and they would say, “Yeah, yeah, our family is too busy. We can’t do that.” We accepted their decision. But they were really the same kind of people we were: they attended the same church and had the same basic beliefs. In fact, their father did the same work as my father did; they were sort of competitors. After church on Sundays, the girls would come to my house, and we would play Ping-Pong or sjoelbak (shuffleboard), or we would play four-handed piano.

But one Sunday, just a few weeks after the war broke out, I entered their house, and there above the piano hung a portrait of Hitler! In addition, German soldiers were in their house that night. Jet’s family was doing for German soldiers what we had done for the Dutch boys before the war. Now, after the Occupation had begun, they could do it for the enemy.

Soon after that, something else happened that hurt me very much. I had decorated my bicycle at that time by putting a little patriotic red-white-and-blue flag on it. Every night I rode home from the center of the city on my bike with the flag waving. One day Jet’s brother Daniel ripped the flag off my bike. I was so deeply hurt that I wrote them a letter. “Until that picture is gone”—I meant that picture of Hitler—“I’ll never set foot in your house again,” I told them. I said I was angry, “because you had no place for the Dutch soldiers who gave their lives for our country, and now you treat the guys who have come into this country, totally uninvited, with hospitality.”

 July 1941

Dear Rie and Jet:

Sometimes I would so very much like to know how you are doing. Sometimes I long so much for both of you. Especially when I look at our vacation photos. Then I can barely take it that things are now the way they are. You had such a large place in my heart, and I loved you both, more than even Fanny. You probably are playing a lot of piano, eh, Jet? And what is Rie doing? I have the feeling that I barely know you anymore. Nel, Bram’s girlfriend, sometimes laughs and makes movements and then I am thinking: “Who does she remind me of?—somebody does it just the same.” And now I know it, Rie—it is you. When you were teasing someone, you laughed just like Nel does.

Did I do wrong in breaking with you? Would it have been my task to still try to keep you? Was it wrong that I did not want to come to your house any longer? Also not to be considered a traitor? I spoke to Taverne, [a man I helped] and he said, “The light may not be in communion with the dark forces.”

I wish I was a light, but I am only a little flickering flame. I am so happy that Nel now came into my life, I still don’t know her, but I feel that she will be able to replace something that I lost when I lost you.   from the diary of Diet Eman

To this day, I don’t understand their way of thinking. That family was so similar to ours in beliefs—same church, same profession, and same standard of living. Maybe I never knew what those people were really like. When we were younger, maybe we were just having too much fun. We never talked about important things, about politics; we never talked about serious things at all. We just had fun. I never knew them inside, I suppose. But maybe there was more to all of it. Those girls were my best friends, so I’ve often thought about what happened.

Hein and I and the group that met at Platteel’s felt very strongly that what we were doing was right, both with our consciences and with God. What we were certain of was that there were things happening in our country that were wrong. But it was so difficult to know what to do. At first, we didn’t know where to start. At that time, the Germans had not yet started persecuting the Jews. What had aroused us was other things: laws against radios; rules about what we could listen to; laws forcing us to hand in copper, brass, and other metals; laws against everything. We the people of the Netherlands were accustomed to being free.                                                                                                        

July 7, 1941

Did not write in a long time and much has happened during that time. Two weeks ago, Russia joined. All metal has to be handed in. Political parties have to be dissolved. Their monies have to be handed in. Many arrests among the Roman Catholics. And we are getting accustomed to this, that is the very worst of all. And also, I forget to see this all happens with God’s permission.

I keep looking at the injustice, So this man rang the doorbell at the home our country and people are suffering, but I forget that You allow trials on this earth.

Teach me to see that this too is You, who carries everything in Your strong hands. Then I can even be happy knowing that You are fulfilling Your plans. Keep me from saying so many things, which are not pleasing to You. Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, and keep watch over the door of my lips.  from the diary of Diet Eman

The Germans would print rules in the newspaper and broadcast them over the radio. They put up little signs on trains: “Be careful what you say.” That’s always what the Germans told each other: “Be careful with your conversations. The enemy is listening in.” Of course, we were the enemy, and they were reminding their military that they should not talk about military things, because we would hear it. Then they began designating certain cars on the trains as belonging only to them. At that time in the Netherlands, only the very rich had automobiles, and there was no gas. So the trains were a vital means of transportation. Everyone had bicycles, of course, but if you needed to go some distance, you usually took the train. What they did was this: if it was a train of six cars, say, they would take two cars for themselves. They would put big signs on those cars: Nur für Wehrmacht (“Only for the German army”).

When the Germans marked specific cars, those cars would almost always be empty, and the Dutch people had to stuff themselves into the one or two cars left for them. One time I fainted on the train, and I could not fall to the floor: there were too many people. I hung there, even though I had fainted dead away. Hein saw that I had fainted, but he was standing so far away from me that he could not get through the crowd. You were simply happy if you got on the train at all, never mind if you stayed together. We were already doing Underground work and were heading to Nijkerk on that day, and I fainted shortly after we left The Hague.

The train stopped in Voorburg for two minutes, and the people around me saw me hanging there, green probably; and when the doors opened, they shoved me onto the platform. The doors closed, and the train simply left without me! Hein could not get to me. He had seen me lying there on the platform, but he was caught in his car because everyone was so cramped in. The train went all the way to Utrecht with him on it and me lying on the platform at Voorburg. Imagine, if you fainted, you couldn’t even fall on the floor, you just hung there between people.

The way the Germans abused the railroad made me very angry, especially later, when I had to do so much traveling on those packed trains for the Resistance. So one time I walked right into one of those empty cars where the paper message (written in both German and Dutch) Nur fur Wehrmacht/Gereserveerd voor Duitsche Weermacht was stuck on the windows. I stood there with my back against the window, and behind my back, I ripped the message off completely. Immediately, of course, the whole car filled up with Dutch people. That time, at least, the Dutch people had one extra car on their own train.

An officer at the bank I worked at by the name of Gitz used to give me occasional hints: “I have heard some people are actually taking these Jews and hiding them,” he said to me one day, as if it was an incredible shock that such a thing was being done. At that date, to be sure, it wasn’t really done often. There were onderduikers already by that time, people who “dove under,” went into hiding under a false name. But even hiding onderduikers was all very new then. Gitz was a man with whom I had a lot to do at the bank. “Have you heard of people who are in the Resistance, and who then have to go into hiding?” he asked me in a rather casual way.

“Ja, I’ve heard about that,” I said, also very casually.

He often attempted to read my own feelings about the whole situation in that way, and I always was wary of him and his interest, even though, later on, he gave me more tips on people who were in the Underground and in other organizations. So Gitz helped me to get started, but always in a very guarded way. It wasn’t easy to bring these things up with people you didn’t know well: the price for being wrong about who could be trusted was very, very high.

Working together was absolutely required if our movement was going to grow. One of my uncles, my mother’s brother, lived in The Hague and was doing important work for the Resistance when he showed interest in us. He worked for a printing outfit, which was ideal because he could secretly print the things we needed badly. He had his own contacts, so our circle grew because of our contact with him and his printing press.

When we started the dangerous work of trying to hide Jews, Herman, a Jewish man I worked with at the bank, told me about his Uncle Frits, who was doing all kinds of things for the Resistance. “Would you like to meet him?” he asked.

This Uncle Frits was not Jewish, but he had married Lena, Herman’s mother’s sister. Because his wife, his whole family, and all his relatives on his wife’s side were in danger—being Jewish—he began to work hard for the Resistance. Uncle Frits had a strong sense of what was right and wrong.

He started doing all sorts of things with us. He came to the meetings at Platteel’s, and, of course, he had even more contacts, including an accountant and his wife, Jenny, who was a housewife and very active and eager to work in the Underground. So at one point we had a big group of resisters in The Hague, and soon there were many things we could do.

This is what happened: when it became apparent that the Nazis were really starting to go after Jewish people, we saw our task. Up until that time we had been groping around with the constant question, “What can we do?” But after the seizure of Jews became clear, that was simply not a question anymore. Our objective became very clear: to find places for Jews wherever we could.

When we formed ourselves into a Resistance group, we called ourselves “Group HEIN”; but the name had nothing to do with my fiancé’s name. It was an acronym formed from the first letters of Help Elkander in Nood, which means “helping each other in need.” Hein was one of the two leaders; the other was Ab van Meerveld, an old friend of his from The Veluwe, the part of the country where Hein had been raised and where his family still lived.

At first, we didn’t even think about a name; everything we did was so casual and limited. Our first activities consisted of spreading reliable news and trying to get people to England. Such efforts seemed to be so small, and we were such ordinary people. But then our work started growing. And other small groups started to form in those early months. The Resistance was simply made up of people who were opposed to what was happening in the Occupation.

Distrust and suspicion surrounded us all the time. Young men could be stopped at any time on the streets and conscripted by the Germans. Germany was so short on manpower, their men spread over the whole of Europe as Occupation forces, that at home they had only young kids under fourteen and very old men. So they made it a rule that young able-bodied men of the countries they occupied had to go work in Germany. First, it was an invitation; later, it was forced labor. Those men were placed in factories, which became dangerous places when the Allies got involved, because they would often drop their bombs on those factories. Few Dutch men wanted to go to Germany to help the enemy; so our work began as an effort to hide not only Jews but also the onderduikers, Dutch men hiding for other reasons, such as to escape having to go work in Germany. The necessity of that effort had become very clear to us.

The razzias, the Gestapo raids, began to take place after the Germans were already coming after the Jews; but our trying to help the onderduikers really started at about the same time that we started hiding Jews. When the Germans started taking other people too—not just Jewish men for forced labor camps—then the queen, in a radio broadcast, made very clear to us that Dutch men should not go to Germany. Once again, just as with the confiscation of radios, Dutch people had to make a difficult choice. I realize now that a lot of people were simply very afraid; and many just obeyed all those crazy German rules.

header-dieteman

Some of the men in Group Hein

Many men did go to Germany, but many others went into hiding. They worked on farms or did what they could in hiding; some worked in the Underground. No one had any inkling that the war would last for five years. At first, we really thought it would last only a year. We thought, “These are modern times, after all, and this horrible barbarism will be defeated quickly.”

We were sure America would join the war effort. We thought Roosevelt would help free us. But we didn’t have access to much world news, and thus we didn’t know that in America there was terrific opposition to the war. We pictured America as the great land of justice and freedom, and we thought America and Roosevelt simply wouldn’t stand for letting that little painter fellow out of Austria have his way with Europe.

At that time, the British were fighting for their lives against the bombardments. I still admire the British immensely because they had to send all their little kids out into the country in big trains, where they were taken in by farmers. Every night London was being bombed—the Blitzkrieg. Under those circumstances, when you are all in danger, you want to keep your kids by your side. And all the British housewives learned first aid and how to fight fires. After the bombardments, many English people would go out with their masks on to help. For them the war was simply horrible. I have the greatest respect for the courageous British.

 September 28, 1941

Rev. Bosch in the Grote Kerk: “Do not pray as in the Old Testament—‘Smash the heads of the children of those who persecute me against the rocks,’ but pray instead, like Paul—‘I wished that you were like me, except for these chains.’”

Sometimes I cannot imagine that we as a people ever will be less hard again. Because of the things I say now, openly, without blushing. These thoughts of revenge I would earlier have wanted to dig a hole for saying—before this war. Lord, only Your Spirit can keep us from turning into animals. Send Your Spirit into our hearts and lead us in Your eternal way. from the diary of Diet Eman

Another Freedom-Honoring Story – It Happened Then, It Could Happen Now

LTRP Note: With each passing year, there remain fewer and fewer witnesses still alive who lived through the Holocaust and can testify of what happened. Lighthouse Trails is honored and privileged to be the publisher for two of these witnesses, Diet Eman and Anita Dittman, one a Christian resistance worker in Holland, and the other a Christian Jew living in Germany during the occupation. Today, both women are still alive and continue sharing their stories with others. The following account is by Diet Eman, who was 20 years old when she resisted Hitler’s “Final Solution” against the Jewish people:

header-dieteman

Diet and some of the young men she worked with in Holland during WW II to save the lives of Jews

July 1941
Last night we walked past the synagogue. Horrible: on the doors was written with large letters “Jude Suss.” On the pillars a swastika and a large V and horribly drawn Jewish faces. In the street on the boarded-up shop windows, “Jew,” “Pest Jude.” How long still, O Lord?

September 16, 1941
Yesterday the paper had a “short” summary of the places where Jews are not allowed! I can better mention where they are still allowed “in their homes and in the streets!”…

There came a day when my Jewish friend Herman, who worked with me in the bank in The Hague, began to understand that for him, as a Jew, life could not go on in the same way anymore. He thus became the first Jewish person that we helped during the Occupation.

First the Jews weren’t allowed on the trams anymore, or on the buses, in parks, or in shops. Rules like that were printed in the newspapers, and they were displayed on the trams and in shop windows. It was an enforced limitation of freedom for Jews in all kinds of ways. Next, Jews weren’t allowed to visit most places in the city anymore; they had to stick to their own Jewish areas and shops. And though Herman and his family did not live in the Jewish area of the city, they, like all Jews, were no longer allowed to visit non-Jewish people.

[from Diet's diary] May 6, 1942 Seventy-two Dutch men have been executed. From last Saturday till Tuesday, six-thousand people have been arrested. Ex-military, pastors, all people of the first and second chamber [the Dutch parliament], etc., etc.

The worst is, I remain so stone cold. Does this war make you an “alive-dead person”? Is it not possible to remain yourself in this chaos? How long still?…

The next law the Germans made was that non-Jews could have nothing at all to do with Jews. Even after that, my mother and father wouldn’t have minded Herman’s coming over, but at that point he did not want to endanger them. Actually, the Germans might have punished my family a little bit for breaking the rules; but Herman would have gotten into major trouble. My parents loved him, but suddenly he couldn’t come anymore.

Much of what had preceded the Jewish persecution had seemed an annoyance to most of us–no display of the royal colors, prohibitions against listening to the BBC–and for the most part we simply put up with it for a while. No one liked the restrictive laws, but in many people’s eyes these relatively trifling laws were something we could tolerate. But when signs and notices suddenly appeared saying that the Jews had to leave their homes and could not live near us because, as the signs said, they were “infectious” (the Germans called them lice and rats and all kinds of names), when they were told they had to leave their homes in the Netherlands completely, then we stopped putting up with the injustices.

The Germans explained to us that the Jews were to be transported to East Germany from all the other European countries. There they would live only with each other, and that way they could harm only each other. When it started to go into effect, we knew we could simply not tolerate this horrible plan. We knew we had to do something.

According to Hitler, we were the great ones–the people with blond hair and blue eyes, the Aryan race. The “Jewish scum,” as the Germans put it, had to be quarantined, rounded up, and separated from the decent, blue-eyed people of what he thought was the super race…. And they were beginning to implement this kind of policy.

At first, the Jews would get notices at their homes that they had to report to such and such an address on a particular night, say, after curfew. They were to report to schools, for instance, where the Germans gathered all of them and took them away in trucks. Or the Jews were told they had to go to the railroad stations, and they would show up, very scared. The Germans always did it after the curfew hours so the rest of us wouldn’t see what was going on….

[A]t one point, my friend Herman’s family got their notice to report. Like everyone else, Herman was instructed to take only one suitcase, small enough to carry…. The Jews had to leave behind almost everything of sentimental value to them personally, not to mention goods of dollars-and-cents value. And they had no choice but to report; they couldn’t just throw away the summons.

July 21, 1942
A lot has happened again: the Jews are walking with their yellow stars on, are not allowed outside after 8 p.m., are not allowed to visit non-Jews, some streets are forbidden to them, etc., etc.

From Amsterdam many were sent to–??? Many are committing suicide!
O God, don’t You see that they are touching the apple of Your eye? Is it still not enough?
O let us, in the midst of all these things which drive us crazy, still remember that You are the ruler of everything and that the punishment You will give them for these things will be more just than all things we think of to punish them….

Please teach us Christians now to be true Christians and to put into practice what we confess, especially to these Jews. O Lord, make an end to all this, only You can do it. We know that You give strength according to our cross, but it is getting to be so very heavy, Lord.

 

Herman wasn’t working at the bank anymore at that time because he was not allowed to take the tram, the bus, or anything, and he was not allowed to enter that area of the city. So he asked me to come to meet him when he got his summons, because Jews were not allowed to visit non-Jews.

“If you were me, would you go?” Herman asked.

“I don’t think so,” I told him…

Herman’s parents were middle class; his father was a decent man with a good government job. His parents really believed that this whole thing would only last a year. They figured the Germans would place them somewhere in Eastern Europe for a little while, a place where they might have to live a little more simply than they were accustomed to living at home. And then, when it was over, they could come back. That’s what many people thought–Jews and non-Jews. Nobody thought they would be exterminated in gas chambers. Therefore, many of them went as meekly as sheep to their deaths.

German Jews who had lived from 1933 to 1937 or 1938 in Germany had seen how the Nazi system developed, had experienced Kristallnacht, and had fled to the Netherlands in the late 1930s. Many of those people had committed suicide during the German invasion of the Netherlands. The night Hitler invaded Holland–and in the five days of war after the invasion–there was no place left for them to run: Belgium was overrun, and Spain was pro-Nazi. There was no place for them to go but the North Sea….

jewish-family

A Jewish family in Holland being “deported.”

Herman was only a year older than I, and we thought of the possibility that what was really happening was far worse than anyone had imagined. We thought about those suicides, and we considered Hitler capable of anything.

[T]hat evening when I saw Hein, I asked him, “What do you think, should Herman go?”
“You remember what the German Jews did,” he said “They committed suicide.” So I said to Hein [Diet's fiance'], “You say he shouldn’t report, but what can he do? If he shouldn’t go there, what else is there?”

And that moment was the real beginning of our Resistance work. Hein immediately said he knew plenty of Christian farmers around Holk–in the area of the Netherlands called The Veluwe.
“Any of those farmers I know around Nijkerk,” he said, “any of them we ask will take Herman. He can work there on the farm.”

The whole business grew so fast that within two or three weeks we had over sixty people who wanted places out in the country, in The Veluwe. Sixty Jews in two weeks, and that was just the beginning. Hein … placed many Jews on the farms around that little town. But the list of Jewish people who wanted to hide kept growing….

At first we thought that was all we had to do: simply help the Jews who wanted to be helped when they began to understand what might happen to them. But we immediately learned that if we were to move these Jewish people out to the country, we would have to get them false identification cards. It was simply too risky to put them on trains when they were carrying IDs which were all marked with that big “J” and which the Germans required, to indicate the holder was Jewish….

By 1943 the group we worked with needed over eight hundred cards every month. The men from the knokploeg did that work, and of course it was very dangerous. But they did it for good reason, not simply because it was high adventure. I went to a few of their planning meetings, and those men always got down on their knees first to ask God to protect and help them….

December 3, 1942
… Jewish people are put out of their homes and into the street–without any shelter. All of Scheveningen has to evacuate.All the beautiful buildings are being razed! The coal [used for heating] has to be left behind, and when they raze the buildings this ends up under the rubble, while thousands are sitting without heat. All the government departments have to leave.

I think that Hitler is fulfilling his prophesy that if he goes under, he will drag all of Europe along with him….

(To read more about Diet Eman’s story, visit her website at Things We Couldn’t Say.

For information on Anita Dittman, click here.

Germany opens investigation into Nazi commander who ‘has been living in Minnesota since fleeing Poland after his unit torched villages and killed dozens’

This 1944 photo shows head of the SS Heinrich Himmler, centre, reviewing troops of the Galician SS-Volunteer Infantry Division, of which Michael Karkoc became a member

LTRP Note: As many of our readers know, Lighthouse Trails stands as a voice that remembers the Holocaust against Jewish people during WW II by Hitler and the Nazis. One Lighthouse Trails author, Anita Dittman, was a Jewish Christian teen in Germany who suffered greatly at the hands of the Nazi regime. Two Lighthouse Trails authors, Diet Eman and Corrie ten Boom  were part of the Christian resistance movement in Holland, rescuing the lives of many persecuted Jews. Anita and Diet are still alive today and still speak to groups about their experiences during the Holocaust. You may wish to read these women’s books and also a booklet we have titled When Hitler Was in Power.

“Germany opens investigation into Nazi commander who ‘has been living in Minnesota since fleeing Poland after his unit torched villages and killed dozens’”

Associated Press

German prosecutors said Monday that they opened a formal preliminary investigation of a Minnesota man who was a commander of a Nazi-led unit during World War II, to determine whether there is enough evidence to bring charges and seek his extradition.

Michael Karkoc in 1990

Evidence indicates that Karkoc was in the area of the massacres, although no records link him directly to atrocities.

Kurt Schrimm, the head of the special German prosecutors’ office responsible for investigating Nazi-era crimes, said prosecutors ‘have opened a preliminary investigation procedure to examine the matter (and) seek documentation.’

Schrimm’s office is responsible for determining whether there is enough evidence against alleged Nazi war criminals for state prosecutors to proceed with a full investigation and possible charges.  Click here to continue reading.

2 Videos: Dutch Holocaust Resistance Worker – Diet Eman (yes, it really happened); and Hitler: “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the Future”

Diet Eman, a Lighthouse Trails author, is 92 years old. During World War II, Diet, a Holland citizen, became involved in the Christian Resistance movement helping save the lives of hundreds of Jewish people who were being persecuted and murdered by the Nazis. The video below was recently taped with Diet giving her story. There are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors left in the world (especially ones who were old enough to remember and also ones from a Christian viewpoint). Diet wrote about her experience in Things We Couldn’t Say. That book was published by Eerdman Publishers several years ago. When we read the book a few years back, we asked Eerdman’s to contract with us so that we could publish a new edition. They agreed, and we became the honored publishers of Diet’s book. While we were preparing the book for press, we got in touch with Diet and asked her for pictures that we could include. When we opened the envelope of photos that she did send us, out fell a small handmade envelope. Knowing the story, it was a moment of emotion and tears; it was that little envelope that had been thrown off a train during the war by Diet’s fiance who was hoping to get a final note to Diet. Diet’s story is no fictional story. She witnessed the Holocaust, and God preserved her so she could tell future generations that the Holocaust really did happen.

Related:

The following clip is of Hitler in 1935 at the Reichsparteitag. Hitler said that “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the Future.”  There are people today who have tried to say the Holocaust never happened or that Hitler didn’t really kill that many Jews. North Americans need to wake up and realize that when we don’t learn from history, history will repeat itself. Today’s youth, including many Christian youth, are being swooped up through New Age/New Spirituality, “progressive,” and emerging ideologies. Colleges and universities (including Christian ones) are helping to prepare these youth for the coming world leader who will be against Jesus Christ and His church. As you watch this video below, think about how much Hitler’s words to the youth sound like some major Christian leaders today who are saying, we must all unite whatever it takes.

“Darkness at Vught Concentration Camp” by Holocaust Resistance Worker, Diet Eman

LTRP Note: A few days ago, we were told about a YouTube video recently posted of Lighthouse Trails author Diet Eman, telling the story of when she was in the Christian resistance movement in Holland during WWII. The following is a chapter from her book, Things We Couldn’t Say. We first published this book in 2008 (in special contract with the original publisher and are going back to press this month for another printing. If you have not read this incredible story, we urge you to do so. Lessons to be learned and a story that will grip your heart. The chapter below is about when Diet, in her twenties at the time, had been arrested for her work hiding Jewish people and sent to Vught. It was at this prison that she came to meet Corrie and Betsie ten Boom (of The Hiding Place)  told in a previous chapter of Diet’s book.

* As with all of our articles, if you highlight just the text, then choose “Selection” in your print box, it will print the article and nothing else. Or you can highlight, copy, and paste the article into a Word document, format the text the way you want it (size, font, etc.), then print it. Or you can use this PDF of chapter 14 and print that.

Diet Eman received the Righteous Among the Nations medal in 1998 in recognition of her aid to Jewish people during the war. Today, at 92, she still speaks to groups about her experience.

By Diet Eman

At Vught Camp our barrack was the only one that specifically held female prisoners who hadn’t had their hearings. Sporadically, one by one, we were called out to face our interrogators. We were always nervous and scared.

Three months passed, and through all that time God gave me the opportunity to go over my story—over and over—to learn it perfectly. From the night in Scheveningen when I’d talked to Trix about what I should say, and all through my months at Vught Camp, I worked very hard to restrain my thoughts from remembering the people I loved. Instead, I worked at creating a whole new life, a new identity for myself as this woman named Willie Laarman, a maid born in Paramaribo whose parents were now both dead.

It was very tempting to reminisce about those I loved because that was what my mind wanted to do—to relive the good times. It would have been so great to be able to think about Hein. But I wouldn’t allow myself that pleasure because I still had to face my hearing armed to the teeth with a plausible story so deeply set in my brain that I wouldn’t flinch for a moment when telling it. Maybe it was partially because of the rigid self-discipline I made myself live with.

When I went to my bed after a long day in camp, it would be so tempting to start thinking of Hein and my parents, my brothers and sister. I prayed for them every night, of course. I knew Hein was in the prison at Amersfoort, and Amersfoort had a horrible reputation. But other than praying, I would not allow myself even a thought of the people I loved and missed so dearly for at least the last hour or so that I stayed awake.

“You are Willie Laarman. You were born in Paramaribo. You are an orphan. Your parents have died.” That’s what I told myself, over and over again. I wanted no ballast when the time came for me to have my hearing; I wanted to have the whole story of my false life down to the last detail. If I were to tell my interrogators that my parents were dead, I knew I would have to explain their deaths, give dates, and be able to remember perfectly what I’d said if asked to repeat the facts again. I spent hours at night going over the whole story, trying to keep it as bare bones as I could: just me and my parents, and they were dead, and I didn’t have much to say at all about life in general.

I made sure those were my last thoughts before I slept. I did not want to be caught off guard if they called me at two or three in the dark of night—which they regularly did. If they were to wake me from a deep sleep and start bombarding me with questions, I wanted to have Willie on my mind, not Hein. So I tried to put him out of my head completely, as completely as I could. I knew our whole operation was at stake.

Today, sometimes, I think that perhaps what I did to brainwash myself during those years was too much, I don’t know if it was wise, but it was safest. Our minds are strange things.

During that time, I always tried to keep my eye on the others, in silence, of course. I observed how one woman especially, a woman named Hanny, who was not very pretty—had horrible teeth and especially greasy hair—was called up for hearings two or three times a week. I wondered what she had done that they were calling her out so often.

You learn things when you watch as closely as I did. Most women would be shattered when they returned from their hearings; but Hanny did not come back broken like so many of them. Also, unlike many of us, who were called at any hour of the day or night—often in the middle of the night—she was called out quite often at 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon. And she was never nervous or scared. When she returned, she looked almost tanned, as if she’d been in the sun; and often she was even talkative, as if she’d had a beer or two.

I began to believe that she was being used to spy on us. That had to explain why she wasn’t scared, even though the guards came for her so often. But she wasn’t smart either. If they had been using me, I would have at least acted nervous about what had happened at my hearing. And it was stupid of the Germans to take her out and let her sit in the sunshine somewhere.

I trusted Mrs. Folmer, and I trusted a wonderful Catholic girl named Freddy, but very few others. And I asked those I trusted if they’d noticed how Hanny was never nervous when she was called out, and how she was always talkative when she returned. I told them that we should watch out for her.

One day, close to when it would be my turn to be Stube älteste, the one to get all the women lined up for roll call in the morning, one of my friends came up to me.

“Guess what?” she said. “Every night Hanny Janssen climbs out of that little window in the guards’ room, and she disappears with one of the guards at the four corners. They go out into the woods. And the other three guards watch the corners. Then just before daylight, she comes back.”

So I concocted a plan with Freddy. I told her my plan, and she said she would help. The morning I had to do roll call, we got up at five—forty-five minutes early—and checked all the windows in the whole building, then locked them all. At about twenty after five, when it began to get light, Hanny wanted to climb back in. And when she couldn’t, she became desperate. She was supposedly a normal prisoner, after all, and here she was sneaking out at night.

There we all stood that morning. The keys clanked in the barracks door, it opened, and the female guards marched in. That morning I had to stand on the line, count prisoners, and report. There were always seven or eight prisoners sick, and that number varied, but the total had to be right. I told the guards that I’d counted and counted and that there should be 167, but one was missing. “I can only count 166 . . .  but maybe I made a mistake,” I said, “I know there are eight in bed, but it doesn’t come out right.”

They thought that this mistake was simply attributable to stupid Willie: she can’t count, after all. But for security’s sake, they started counting themselves, and what they found was that one was missing, just as I had said.

Then they got nervous. All the names were called out, and we had to say “Yeah,” “yeah,” “here,” “here.” It turned out that Hanny Janssen was missing. She was their spy, but we weren’t supposed to know that. We were very curious to see what would happen.

There was one part of the prison at Vught that everybody was afraid of. I never found out what really happened there, but if you had done something very bad, it was said that you were sent to the “bunker.” We often heard terrible screams coming from there, but we didn’t know for sure whether prisoners were tortured there or what. People who had walked by and knew where the bunker was said that they had seen hands sticking out of the window or bars. It must have been a terrible place.

Once our guards discovered who was missing that morning, we got a notice that, as an example of Hanny Janssen’s “trying to escape,” she was now in the bunker. She would have to stay there for at least a month, they said. So for that month we lived without our spy, thank goodness. But when she came back a month later, Hanny didn’t even complain. I think she was probably being entertained; she probably had a good time somewhere other than the bunker, I never knew for sure what other spies might have been among the women in Barracks No. 4, but I was sure about Hanny.

One night, suddenly, one of the girls started screaming with pain. She was absolutely hysterical. What could we do? The female guards had left for the night, so we went to the window and called to the outside guards: “We don’t know what to do with this woman. She’s in terrible pain!”

The male guards said they would get a doctor, which pleasantly surprised us since we hadn’t known that there even was a doctor. When the outside guards came back with a stretcher, they had to call the female guards because it was a very strict order that men were not allowed alone in the women’s barracks. Eventually the woman in pain was carried off on the stretcher to the hospital. We hadn’t known that there was a hospital either! It turned out that she had a ruptured appendix, and she was operated on right then and there.

We found out that the hospital we hadn’t known about was very well supplied and was staffed almost entirely by Dutch surgeons, doctors, and nurses who were also prisoners. In addition, we learned, the food was good in the hospital, which was getting extra supplies from the Red Cross. And there was a dentist, also a fellow prisoner, who worked on teeth in the hospital.

Once we found out that there was a hospital, many of us wanted to go. One day in June, I suddenly had a tooth filling fall out—a large one, large enough for me to be constantly sticking my tongue in it. It didn’t hurt that much, but I didn’t want to be bothered by it all the time. When I heard that there was a dentist in that hospital, I thought, Well, why not try it. After all, prison life can get very boring. One will do anything to make something different happen.

I told the guards that I’d lost a very big filling, and they said it was okay for me to go to the dentist. I accompanied a group of eight or ten from another barracks who were also going to the dentist. We had to march through the prison camp alongside a big soldier who was yelling, “March, march, march,” toward the hospital—a hospital that I’d never known existed. Finally we came to one end of the hospital, where there was a small extension building, and that was the dentist’s office.

The dentist stood there in that little room with its small window and dentist’s chair; the waiting room was a tight corridor just outside, where there was a bench and a door. All the prisoners in the camp had triangles on the sleeves of their prison uniform. If you were a political prisoner, you got a red triangle; if you were a murderer or some other kind of criminal, you got a green triangle. I did not have a triangle yet; none of us in Barracks No. 4 had received identification because none of us had had a hearing.

I will never forget that dentist, because when I looked at him for the first time, I saw a green triangle on his sleeve. He was a murderer. Maybe he murdered a German, I thought, which would make him a murderer in their eyes but not in mine. There we sat on that waiting-room bench, nine of us in a row, with the guard watching us. He would walk past with his rifle, stand a moment, then step into the dentist’s office, and walk by again. He had to stand guard there until each of us had had a turn. Sometimes he stayed in the dentist’s office a long time, watching whoever was in the chair. The dentist kept asking, “Does this hurt?” And we would say, “Ah-hah.”

I was sitting right next to the door that went back into what we assumed was the hospital. At one point, that door opened, just beyond the latch, so that it made a sound with the wind—click, click, click—an irritating noise like a dripping faucet, I pulled it shut to stop the bothersome noise; but a moment later it was open again, and it started into the same little clicking. I thought I had shut it, and this time I started thinking that the noise was not just irritating—it was strange. At that moment the guard walked into the dentist’s room, and suddenly a hand came out of that door loaded with slices of bread and margarine!

I grabbed them right away because I was sitting next to the door; but there were so many that I quickly spread them around to the others waiting on that bench. The moment I saw the guard again, I stuck the bread inside my dress. And as soon as he went back in with the dentist, the hand came out of the door again with more bread. We couldn’t really eat with the guard walking by so often; so we put the bread inside the front of our dresses and took it back and shared it with the sick people in the barracks. Every time the guard would leave the corridor, another piece of bread would appear, and we’d stow it away in our dresses. It was wonderful to get all that extra food—not only the bread, but cheese, ham, and margarine with it! We all ate very well that day.

Finally it was my turn to go into the dentist’s room.

“Where does it hurt?” he asked. He was a Greek who spoke rather broken English, and just a few Dutch words.

“Well, I lost my filling,” I said.

“We’ll have to do some drilling and put a temporary one in,” he said. So he started drilling, and the moment he did, he said, “Have you heard the latest news?”

Now at that time every business in occupied Europe was short of manpower. Jewish people were not allowed to work, of course, and many natives of occupied countries had been sent to work in Germany. In addition, many men were in hiding. Philips, the large electronics manufacturing plant in Eindhoven, which was very close to Vught, had been taken over by the Germans because it was a war industry. But Philips was always short of laborers, and the Germans were constantly rounding up people to work there.

So the Germans had allowed Philips to set up a plant inside the camp at Vught. The prisoners who got to work in the Philips plant were the lucky ones. They got extra food and were treated well by the Philips employees brought in to run the plant. We could not listen to the BBC, of course, but the prisoners in the Philips plant were able to do so indirectly. The Dutch Philips employees would surreptitiously tell the prisoners what was going on at that point in the war.

“It’s good news,” they would whisper. “The Allies have taken this city or that town, and they’re marching up in Italy, and Patton’s in Belgium—there’s lots of good news.”

In the evening all the Philips plant prisoners would be back in the camp, and they would spread the news they had heard. Sometimes those prisoners would get sick or have a toothache, and they would spread the news to people in that hospital. Philips became a major source of information for everyone at Vught, and it was wonderful to have.

As soon as that dentist asked me what I had heard, the German guard came back, and the dentist started again: “Where does it hurt? Right here, you say?”

We played that game again for a while, but as soon as the German would walk back out, the dentist would start telling me all about the progress of the war. He gave me all the latest news from Philips that day. Finally my tooth was filled, so I had to leave. But he told me that the filling was only temporary and that I’d have to come back. I said that would be fine.

So a few days later, we did the whole thing again, and I heard the latest news once more. I also wore my gabardine raincoat that time, so that I could open the pockets and let the bread fall in between the lining. That way I could bring much more back to the barracks along with all the news from the Philips plant. I don’t know how many times I have blessed that handful of bread and cheese and meat sticking out from behind that door, and given thanks to whoever was there. And I never even saw who the person was. There may have been someone in our group who was aware that this would happen; but when it started, I was the one sitting by the door, and I had no idea. To me it was a complete surprise.

Finally the Greek dentist said to me, “It’s now all repaired, and I’ll have to let you go.” I was so sad. And when he saw that, he said, “On the other hand, if you want to keep coming, I’ll have to drill holes in some of your perfectly good teeth.”

“Yes, please!” I said immediately.

And he drilled several after that. During the rest of my stay in that prison, I was in his office many times. It seemed like I always needed something done. I don’t know how many holes he drilled, or how often I went, but he filled them up with some strange wartime compound. He must have done a good job, though, because those fillings lasted many years.

Years later, a dentist asked me about the strange fillings in my teeth: “I don’t know what this stuff is—it’s really odd.”

“Oh, those are my prison fillings,” I said.

I still have some of them in my mouth, I think.

In the summer of 1944, General Patton’s army was making excellent progress against the Germans in Belgium, and soon enough we began to hear heavy artillery coming closer and closer, thumping in the distance. The Germans were beginning to get scared. Vught is in southern Holland, and since the country is very small, the distance between Vught and Belgium isn’t great. We could hear Patton’s artillery coming.

The guard assigned to supervise the laundry became so terribly bored after a while with watching us—sometimes I had a helper or two—that finally she just locked us up in the wash-room and left us alone. She’d go and get a cup of coffee or have a beer or something, which we would smell on her later, and she’d stay away for a long time.

The moment she’d leave, we’d have a breath of freedom. You must understand how much we hated the Germans, and here in the laundry room our job was to wash out their underwear. We had to wring out all their rotten underwear with our bare hands, making sure that stuff was perfectly clean. We hated the SS worse than any of the other Germans, and there was the SS insignia, embroidered on every undershirt.

Except for one or two of them, the camp and prison guards all belonged to the SS; and in the extermination camps they were always SS. The Gestapo’s job was to investigate and interrogate, and they were smart; but the SS were not necessarily wily or cunning—they were simply brutal. From what I’ve seen in the camps, I think that the SS were specifically trained for the work they did in camp; they were trained to torture and kill. And they seemed to do it with joy. They were the worst of the Germans, and we hated them. Here I was—my fiancé somewhere a world away in some other camp, maybe alive, maybe not—and I was washing the underwear of the worst of the worst.

Once the guard would leave, my helpers and I would take those SS shirts and hold them up. Then we would gather up a nice big glob of saliva and spit right on the SS insignia. We became very good at it, really accurate. We had to do laundry every day because there were so many guards in that camp, and by the end I was really a sharpshooter. Every day my helpers and I would spit on their underwear.

It’s absolutely crazy to think, now, that spitting on somebody’s underwear could be that enjoyable. But we were never really sure at what moment we would be facing death at the hands of these very people. It felt wonderful to spit on that hated SS insignia that way. After the war, a psychiatrist friend of Corrie ten Boom wanted to talk with me and Ansje, a young friend of mine who lost her husband. Corrie said he was very interested in what we had gone through. I told him that maybe what we did in that laundry room was silly, especially when our lives were at stake. But he told us it was wise to do something like that. He said that the Germans tried hard to break our spirits, and things like spitting on underwear and other seemingly foolish things helped us to know that we hadn’t let them succeed.

We would do laundry the whole day—underwear and shirts. We would soak all our own clothing in the same gutters that we used to wash our faces in the morning. But for the guards’ laundry we had a tub. Those clothes had to be white and clean: that meant chlorine bleach and lots of scrubbing with our hands and our knuckles—the kind of scrubbing I had learned from Alie on the farm. For the SS underwear, of course, we also got soap. After a while our fingers became calloused with all that scrubbing and rinsing.

About the time we began to hear Patton’s heavy artillery, one day I found my hands coming away bloody from the clothes we were washing. One shirt, light blue, was very bloody. We had to wash the bloody things in a separate trough and soak them in cold water to let all the blood run out. There was a lot of blood, and I had no idea what had happened.

One of the women guards, Frau Schenck, appeared to have some human qualities. She had been on duty one day when I had been thinking some good thoughts and simply started singing a hymn. This was, I’m sure, quite unusual; those guards never heard any singing. I had been alone in the laundry that day, and Frau Schenck had been away from my side for a little while, so I was singing in full voice when she returned. Most guards would have snapped at me—”Keep your trap shut”—something like that. But I can still hear her say, Du singst wie eine Heide Lerche, “You sing like a heather lark.”

Frau Schenck was on duty the day those bloody shirts came through the laundry, so I dared to speak to her.

“What happened here?” I asked.

“Oh,” she said, “two guys on a motorbike had a terrible accident, and we have them in our hospital. We want this stuff clean when they come out.”

So I washed it, and it was taken away. But the next day there were many more—maybe eleven or twelve pieces of underwear and shirts—everything, including socks and even suits, covered with blood. This was no motorbike accident. I became very nervous because I had no idea what was going on. A few days later, when Frau Schenck was there, I spoke to her again. I asked her again about the bloody clothes.

She could have said that it was none of my business, but she didn’t.

“Yeah, those are traitors, and they had to be punished,” she said. In her eyes, of course, anyone who opposed the Germans was a traitor.

“But why do we have to wash their clothes then?” I asked.

“Because we have to send the clothes back to the family,” she said, “and it would be very hard for the family to see those clothes filled with blood.”

That was exactly what she said: this halfway decent guard with her halfway decent lie. And that’s what I believed at first; that belief enabled me to continue with this hideous task. I believed Frau Schenck, who wasn’t as bad as the guards we hated. And I thought maybe she was correct—that it would be better for the families not to have to see those clothes all full of blood.

I went on washing, looking for identifying labels in that clothing; and many of the shirts and jackets had Dutch names. I wanted to know more. One night I tried to introduce that mystery into a conversation we were having. I told everyone that I was wondering what had happened. I told them how the first time the bloody shirts came in, the guard had told me it was from a motorcycle accident, but how those bloody clothes had just kept on coming.

“One day,” I said, “there were thirty-six shirts, and it was just terrible. I mean, it was a river of blood in that laundry room. My nerves were so wired I couldn’t sleep that night.”

And then Hanny, the woman we knew was a spy, said, “Oh, those shirts come from men who are being executed.”

My mouth went dry. “But why do we have to wash their clothing?” I asked.

“Germany has no clothing whatsoever,” she said, “so it has to be washed and sent to Germany.”

I was horrified. I was just horribly shocked. I had washed those bloody clothes myself, with my own hands, the clothes of men they had killed—our guys! And now those clothes were being shipped back to Germany to be worn by our enemies! I can’t describe the horror I felt. All I can say is that the feeling I had that day of my hands in our own guys’ blood remains one of the most horrible of my life.

Hanny probably shouldn’t have told us that either, but she was stupid. Sometimes the Germans picked the stupidest informers. She seemed proud of the fact that she knew something about what was happening on the outside, something none of the rest of us did. She said that those clothes went from our barracks to another barracks, where a whole crew had to mend the bullet holes.

I still continued to do the wash for one or two more days because I wanted to see if I could pick up any names on those clothes. Those days I spent in the laundry after I knew what was going on with all those bloody clothes were the most horrible days of my life. I started to look very closely at where the bullet holes were in those shirts, and what I found was even more horrible. Sometimes the bullet holes were not at the heart level, as ordered by the Geneva Convention, but at the stomach level, which meant that the men who died in those shirts probably suffered for hours before finally succumbing. There are no words to describe such blackness.

I examined those shirts very closely to see whether I could find names. These were Resistance people who were being executed, and I knew that I had to report the gunshots to the stomach to the Red Cross; so I wanted badly to find names, any names at all, maybe written in or sewn into the clothing. Whenever I found one, I tried to commit it to memory. These were not military uniforms but suits, some woolen suits, full of holes.

What was happening became clear to me. The men who had been executed—usually every night at sunset, we could hear the machine guns—would be lying somewhere for hours before they died. I was absolutely heartbroken. And I was heartbroken for another reason: I suspected that any one of those men being taken out and shot in the stomach and left to die could be my Hein. He could easily have been transferred from the camp at Amersfoort to the one here at Vught; I would never have seen him, even though we might have been so close to each other—in the same camp.

Hein’s clothes might be among all these bloody ones, as well as Ab’s clothes, Adriaan’s clothes, Jantje’s clothes, Aalt’s clothes. The tension mounted, day by day, as I went to the laundry. I’d say to myself, “Whose clothes will I find today among the bloody ones? Will I see the clothes of the man I love today, the man I would have married?”

It was terrible. At that moment I began to be filled with hatred, absolutely filled with it. And then I lost something: I simply could not ask the Lord to help me to love my enemies anymore. I was praying, instead, for God’s damnation on the Nazis, for his curse on them. I couldn’t face the evil anymore; I had no strength to go on. I couldn’t brace my mind anymore, couldn’t hold it up with any strength, because I had none. After all those years in Underground work, and then the entire year they were constantly searching for me, terrifying my parents; after Hein’s arrest, and then mine; and then waiting forever for a hearing that never came. Then the bloody clothes of men I might have known and loved—at that moment life was unbearable. The relentless fear and tension and anxiety overcame whatever meager power I could muster when I found my hands red with blood.

This was July 1944, and it started with two bloody shirts. I found out that when we heard the heavy artillery in the distance, the Germans had begun to get nervous: they wanted to empty the camp because they didn’t want any prisoners to fall into the hands of Patton and be free. Hanny told me that they were executing people at sunset every day. So we listened, and we heard machine guns. I found out later that they simply picked a certain number of prisoners at random every day and sentenced them to death. No trial, no nothing—just bang, bang, bang. To have to go through that, to hear those shots and to imagine what we did, to think that every day some of our boys, possibly our loved ones, were being murdered out there, so close to us, and yet to know we were powerless—that was unbearable. At that point, I couldn’t go on.

I said to God, “How can You let all of this horror go on? How can You stand all this evil? This is Your world—how can You stand it?” And I said it angrily. After all, we had done all of this work, involved ourselves for several years, suffered so much sleeplessness, so much worry, so much tension, and risked so much danger. And now, when I held those clothes in my hands, it seemed as though the death of those men was the only verifiable answer to all of my praying—all of our praying together and everything we’d ever done.

I’m not sure what happened in me, but some impulse to continue was switched off as abruptly as if a power source had suddenly disappeared. One morning I woke up and absolutely could not move. I was lying on my side, totally paralyzed: I couldn’t turn over, and I couldn’t stand, not even for roll call. When it sounded that morning, I said to the others, “I can’t work. I can’t even move.”

They turned me over, but I couldn’t go to the bathroom or anything. It seemed to me that I had lost complete control of my whole body. They reported that to the guards, and the guards came in.

“You have to get up,” they yelled. “You have to do the laundry! Get out of that bed!”

But I honestly could not move. I was not faking anything; I was completely paralyzed. They sent for the camp doctor—a Dutch prisoner and a very good doctor, I discovered later. He came to my bunk. I’m sure it was probably the most difficult role he had to play: to pretend to be very tough on prisoners such as I, prisoners who absolutely couldn’t go on. If he didn’t appear to be tough, he would risk being removed from his job and replaced by someone much worse.

“Now get up,” he screamed, and he kicked the bed. But he didn’t kick me, and it didn’t hurt anything. “Stop this right now.” He went into a tirade, but I couldn’t move. I literally could not move.

“But I can’t get up,” I said.

Then I heard him say something to the Germans, something about “this lousy woman,” and that day they allowed me to stay in bed. In fact, I lay there for three whole days, totally paralyzed. My friends helped me to the bathroom and anywhere else I needed to move; but I have very vague impressions of those days because it was a time of complete darkness for me. Somebody told me later that what I had was a form of hysteria: my body and my mind fled into paralysis. There was nothing wrong with me organically, but somewhere inside I suffered a complete breakdown.

At some point in everyone’s life, I believe, there comes a time when one feels perfectly alone, when one hits the bottom. It might be long-term illness, it might be divorce, it might be a job loss. But most often in such situations one is surrounded by friends or family, people who can help, support, and encourage. But at that moment in the camp at Vught I had nobody. I had friends, and there were some women I talked to; but all the time, even with them, I was trying to be someone I was not. I had no real communication with anyone at that time, so I was totally dependent on God. And He never failed me.

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me. (Psalm 55:17-18)

(Chapter 14 of Things We Couldn’t Say by Diet Eman) 


Lighthouse Trails RSS Feed
**SHOP FOR BOOKS/DVDS**

SEARCH ENTIRE SITE
Categories
Calendar
April 2014
S M T W T F S
« Mar    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  
Archives