A Teacher, a Preacher, and a Righteous Gentile
The Fellowship | March 7, 2018
Life: August 27, 1886 – April 12, 1963
Born to a Christian family in the Netherlands, Nicolette Bruining followed in her father’s footsteps, studying theology at the University of Amsterdam, where he was a professor. Upon graduation, she began teaching religion and Hebrew at high schools in The Hague. Nicolette also began preaching in various towns across the country. In the 1920s, she realized that the then-new medium of radio could be used to spread her Christian beliefs. She used radio to broadcast her ministry, until the Nazis shut down her broadcasting corporation when they overtook the Netherlands.
At the same time, Nicolette witnessed the Nazis’ evil while teaching high school Hebrew in the Hague. In 1941, all Jewish students were expelled. In protest, Nicolette quit her job. Meanwhile, she continued teaching her students from her home.
One of these students, a Jewish girl named Elisabeth Waisvisz, was being threatened with deportation – her family was to be deported to a Nazi extermination camp. Elisabeth’s father turned to Nicolette for help. The kind teacher found a hiding place for Elisabeth’s eight-year-old sister, Anita. Hiding was harder for Elisabeth, who was over 16 years old. But Nicolette found the girl the necessary forged identification papers and helped her relocate several times, some of them accompanying Elisabeth on trains. This work was especially dangerous for Nicolette, who was known to the Nazis for her work on radio and her strong voice against their evil occupation.
But Nicolette continued helping the girls, providing them with food and delivering letters to their parents. Sadly, the girls’ parents were ultimately betrayed and sent to Westerbork concentration camp, where they perished.
But Nicolette continued to hide the Waisvisz sisters, who survived the war. After the war, Nicolette resumed her work on radio and even television. She also kept in touch with Elisabeth and Anita, the girls whose lives she had saved. While Nicolette Bruining died at the age of 76 in 1963, her courage and selflessness were honored by Yad Vashem when she was posthumously named Righteous Among the Nations in 1990. May her memory be a blessing.