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They did not sit idly by.

Tina Buchter came by her strength and courage quite naturally. Hers was family of strong Dutch women; her mother, Marie Schotte, had taken in political refugees between the world wars, and her grandmother, before her, had sheltered Belgian soldiers in WWI. And so we shouldn’t be surprised that when Holland surrendered to the Nazis on May 15, 1940, these three did not sit idly by.

What is quite remarkable, however, is the timing. One day after the surrender, one day after Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch government fled to London, Tina hid a Jewish friend in her grandmother’s home! One day! Amidst the panic and fear, and uncertainty, Tina’s friend, Tirtsah Van Amerongen, was already tucked safely away in secret. The three women decided that the Nazis were less likely to search an “old woman’s house,” and in addition, Tina described her grandmother as “the only person I knew who scared the Gestapo.”

From that day until the end of the occupation, Tina and her mother would hide more than 100 Jews. The operation moved to their home at 282 Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, just behind the Royal Palace in the heart of Amsterdam, literally five to six blocks from Prinsengracht 263, where the Franks were hidden. Theirs was a transit operation – four to five people secreted in an attic hiding place for a few days, forged passports created, and then movement to the countryside.

Using her bike, Tina also delivered weapons, explosives, and radio parts to the underground, often pedaling 50 miles and racing to get home before the eight o’clock curfew. She was arrested and interrogated many times, abused and tortured, but still she carried on. Oh, did I mention that Tina was 20-years-old at the time, a medical student keeping up her studies in secret after the Nazis closed the medical school?

Tina would graduate from the University of Amsterdam in 1946 and receive a Fulbright scholarship, which enabled her to travel to the U.S. and study child psychiatry. She devoted her life to helping others, practicing psychiatry in New York until age 89. When asked about the risks she took during the war, she said simply, “It’s the right thing to do. Your conscience tells you to do it. I believe in heroism.”

Dr. Tina Strobos, or Tineke Buchter as she was called in those long-ago days in Amsterdam, and her mother, Marie Schotte, were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1989.


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