Dr. Tina Strobos – I Believe in Heroism

Dr. Tina Strobos (left)

Credit:wikicommons

A Dutch physician named a Righteous Gentile for her heroic work during the Holocaust, Dr. Tina Strobos spent her life saving the lives of others.

From Medical Student to Resistance Member

Born Tineke Buchter in Amsterdam, Tina grew up in a family with a history of helping the needy. Her parents took in refugees from various conflicts, and her grandmother sheltered refugees during World War I. So it surprised no one that young Tina not only chose to study medicine in order to help others, but acted with bravery and selflessness when the Nazis overtook Europe.

When the Nazis invaded Tina’s homeland of Holland in 1940,  they ordered university students to sign oaths of loyalty to Hitler. Only 20 years old, Tina refused to sign. Because of her and her classmates’ refusal, the Nazis shut down the medical school. The students then joined the underground against their German occupiers.

Hiding Jews from the Nazis

Tina’s first act of resistance involved hiding her best friend, a young Jewish woman named Tirtsah Van Amerongen. But Tina saved far more Jewish lives than just her friend’s. Working with her mother and grandmother, she hid more than 100 Jews from the Nazis, keeping four or five hidden in the family home at a time. A carpenter friend built a hiding place in the attic, and while the Gestapo searched the house eight times, they never found the Jews hidden there. Tina and her mother also installed a warning bell that told the hidden Jews of sudden Gestapo raids. If they had no time to hide, the Jews escaped through the attic window into the building next door.

Tina’s home only sheltered Jewish refugees on a temporary basis. Soon, they moved to the safety of the countryside, or to Spain or Switzerland. Tina and her mother often bicycled many miles to visit the Jews they had hidden.

One of the Jewish families hiding nearby was the family of Anne Frank, only ten minutes from the Strobos’ home. When Tina learned of Anne’s fate after they war, she lamented, “If I knew they were there, I would have gotten them out of the country.”

Besides hiding Jews, Tina and her mother also sheltered members of the anti-Nazi underground. In addition to hiding Resistance members, Tina helped in other ways. On her bicycle, she smuggled weapons, radios, and explosives, also stealing identification cards that Jews could use to escape certain death.

A Family of Righteous Gentiles

Because of her work, the Gestapo captured and interrogated Tina numerous times. Despite being abused and tortured, she never once betrayed any of the Jews she hid. She was not the only strong woman in her family. Her mother would also be named a Righteous Gentile in 1989, but of her grandmother  Tina said, “She is the only person I know who scared the Gestapo.” This statement  proved to be true when a Nazi arrived at Tina’s grandmother’s home, intent on interrogating her. Instead, her grandmother grabbed the evil German by the arm and said, “Did I not see you looting a Persian rug out of the Mendlessohns’ apartment next door a few nights ago?” The Nazis quickly left, scared of the strong old woman.

After the war, Tina finished her medical studies, focusing on work with the mentally disabled. Dr. Tina Strobos finally retired at the age of 89, and passed away just two years later.

When asked why she so bravely risked her life during the Holocaust, this doctor and lifesaver answered, “It’s the right thing to do…your conscience tells you to do it. I believe in heroism.”

Tags: Advocates and Allies History Holocaust Netherlands World War II

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