‘I Believe in Heroism’
The Fellowship | February 27, 2019
Dr. Tina Strobos
May 19, 1920 — February 27, 2012
Born Tineke Buchter in Amsterdam, Tina was raised in a family who had a history of helping the needy. Her parents had taken in refugees from various conflicts, and her grandmother had sheltered refugees during World War I. So it was no surprise that young Tina would not only choose to study medicine in order to help others, but would act with bravery and selflessness when the Nazis overtook Europe.
When the Nazis invaded Tina’s homeland of Holland in 1940, university students were ordered to sign oaths of loyalty to Hitler. Only 20 years old, Tina refused to sign. Because of her and her classmates’ refusal, the medical school was shut down. The students then joined the underground against their German occupiers.
Tina’s first act of resistance was to hide her best friend, a young Jewish woman named Tirtsah Van Amerongen. But this friend was not the only Jewish life Tina saved. 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 friend who was a carpenter 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 there was no time to hide, the Jews escaped through the attic window into the building next door.
Tina’s home was only used to hide Jewish refugees on a temporary basis. Soon, they would be moved to the safety of the countryside, or to Spain or Switzerland. Tina and her mother would often bicycle 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 also 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.
Because of her work, Tina was captured and interrogated numerous times by the Gestapo. Despite being abused and tortured, she never once betrayed any of the Jews she was hiding. She was not the only strong woman in her family. Her mother would also be named a Righteous Gentile in 1989, but it was her grandmother of whom Tina said, “She is the only person I know who scared the Gestapo.” This statement was proven 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. She 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.”