February 29, 2012

"A carpenter came with a toolbox and said, ‘I’m a carpenter from the underground... Show me the house and I’ll build a hiding place."

Dr. Tina Strobos hid more than 100 Jews from the Nazis — 4 or 5 at a time. She died this week at the age of 91. She learned her values from her parents, "socialist atheists who took in Belgian refugees during World War I and hid German and Austrian refugees before World War II."
The Gestapo searched the rooming house several times. But Dr. Strobos, a tall, soft-spoken woman, beguiled the Germans with her fluency in their language and her cool, ingenuous pose....

Dr. Strobos rode her bicycle for miles outside the city to carry ration stamps to Jews hiding on farms. She transported radios to resistance fighters and stashed their guns. She created fake identity cards — ones that were not stamped with a J — either by stealing photographs and fingerprinted documents from legitimate guests at the boarding house or making deals with pickpockets to swipe documents from railway travelers.

She was cold and hungry when she took those risks and was interrogated nine times by the Gestapo. Once, she was left unconscious after an official threw her against a wall.

“It’s the right thing to do,” she said when asked why she had taken such gambles. “Your conscience tells you to do it. I believe in heroism, and when you’re young you want to do dangerous things.”

65 comments:

rcocean said...

"WA changing cast of Jews, Communists and other endangered individuals spent days or weeks on the upper floors,"

Wonder who these "other" individuals were? Also wonder if her "socialist" parents were in fact Communists.

victoria said...

Now that is bravery. That is a hero(ine)

Who cares what she was. She had compassion for the downtrodden and help to save lives.

Socialist, communist. Who cares.


Vicki from Pasadena

The Crack Emcee said...

Those fucking atheists, you NEVER know what they're up to!

Speaking of atheists and Nazis, take a gander at the destruction I leveled on R. Chatt in the previous Yoga Sex Cult thread.

Ann, you've really got to check on the quality of loser you allow in here,...

edutcher said...

No mention if she ever had a particular religion, the idea her parents were "socialist atheists" is all the Gray Lady wants to hear.

In any case, there was a good deal of this in the Netherlands.

Well good on her, it was a very gutsy thing to do.

PS The Military Channel did a pretty good series on Nazi collaborators and the one on Anton Mussert highlights how much this sort of activity was carried out, for those who want to know a little more.

chickenlittle said...

A brave woman. I found the article unusual in that it seemed to need to tell us that she was an atheist and a socialist and that she had divorced and that her parents had divorced before her. These are markers which distinguish her from a person of faith with traditional values--especially in those times and that--and they imbue her with traditions and markers of her own.

RIP

Writ Small said...

Just a hunch, but I suspect she was not the sort of athiest who go around trying to get public displays of religion stamped out.

yashu said...

Thank god (or the universe, a pretty cold and heartless place) human beings like this exist.

Infinite thanks to her.

Petunia said...

How much better the world would be if more people did good things simply because "it's the right thing to do".

RIP, Dr. Strobos.

rcocean said...

The biases of the New York Times are always a source of amusement. For example, plenty of people saved/hid others during WW II, but whether you get a glowing Obit seems to depend on WHO you saved. The Times seems to use the following score card for WW II:

A-Save Chinese from the Japanese Army - +1 point
B-Save a British/American Airman/POW - +10 points
C-Save a Jew -+50 points.
D- Save a German Refugee from the Red Army - 0 points
E-Save a Russian Aristocrat from the Bolsheviks - (Minus) 10 points
F- Save a Burmese/Indonesian/Filipino - 0 points.

rhhardin said...

I always wonder about stories of heroic women whether it would be unusual for a man. Usually not.

I detect patronising, namely a braver than you'd expect from a woman story.

phx said...

Thank you Vicki from Pasadena

yashu said...

The NYT is full of shit, and the way they frame this story may be all too predictable, but that doesn't take anything away from the awesomeness of what this woman did.

Revenant said...

No mention if she ever had a particular religion, the idea her parents were "socialist atheists" is all the Gray Lady wants to hear.

Er, one obvious reason for mentioning her parents is that her mother was *also* involved in hiding people from the Nazis.

Anyway, Strobos was also an atheist, as was most of her family. In an interview she described her mother and grandmother as "militant", so presumably they were the sort of atheist people here love to hate on. In the same interview she describes her parents as "part of the socialist movement"; given that they were old enough to be hiding refugees during WW1 I would assume that predated the differentiation of the movement into "socialism" and "Communism".

Anyway, she was a great woman. RIP.

traditionalguy said...

Her religion is irrelevant. She is a true hero using courage in the face of death to save the weak and the helpless.

I guaranty you she got God's attention.

And I bet she did not like what abortions do to the weakest and the most helpless.

Revenant said...

The biases of the New York Times are always a source of amusement.

It takes a weird sort of mind to complain that the Times focuses too much attention on Jewish holocaust victims.

But in any case, a contributing factor just might, maybe, be that New York City is home to 15% of the world's Jews. The only city with a larger Jewish population is Tel Aviv.

phx said...

@traditionalguy you aren't allowed to coopt someone like that for your agendas. That's really tacky.

bagoh20 said...

I must admit that I often wonder if I would be brave like that in such a situation. I certainly want to think so, but I have no idea. The Nazis were absolutely ruthless and unforgiving about such things, and everyone knew it. That knowledge is what makes these type of actions so incredibly selfless. This is true heroism - when you know you are toast with no second chance if you fail, and yet you do it anyway for someone else, when you could just walk away safely - strangers no less. Amazing!

Revenant said...

phx is right. So far we've got people assuming she was pro-life and had no problem with government religious displays. "Tacky" is the best word for it.

MadisonMan said...

The Nazis were absolutely ruthless and unforgiving about such things, and everyone knew it.

Neither you or I would have feminine wiles going for us. I do think it's easier for a woman than a man to do a snow job on a male soldier.

That doesn't diminish her deeds in any way of course.

Chef Mojo said...

What courage! Dr. Strobos was named as one of the Righteous Gentiles at Yad Vashem in 1989. As the veil of anti-Semitism continues to grow and darken us all, we need to remember to be righteous in the eyes of history.

bagoh20 said...

Tradguy: "And I bet she did not like what abortions do to the weakest and the most helpless."

phx said...

"@traditionalguy you aren't allowed to coopt someone like that for your agendas. That's really tacky."


I think that's a fascinating and important question for a lot of people: How much difference is there between a late term abortion and a gas chamber death, other than the baby never even got a chance to see the light of day? Which would you rather be? Which is more unjust?

How would someone who is willing to sacrifice everything to save another person from death also be able to support this other similar horror.

bagoh20 said...

I have no idea what her opinion of abortion was, but there certainly are people who hold both seemingly opposing views. And I'm talking about late term abortion. I don't see much similarity with early term abortion.

Lem said...

She was cold and hungry when she took those risks..

I take that to mean calculatingly "cold".. and "hungry" to mean she would not turn down a mission.

Revenant said...

How much difference is there between a late term abortion and a gas chamber death

The latter kills a sentient human being and the former doesn't.

If you want a real head-scratcher, ponder that the Nazis were harshly anti-abortion; they overturned Weimar's legalization of the practice and implemented a death penalty for providing an abortion to an Aryan woman. This has the predictable effect of pushing a lot of pro-choice types into the "anti-Nazi" camp.

Which is another illustrative reason of why you shouldn't assume "anti-abortion" and "good-hearted" go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Human beliefs and behavior aren't as simplistic as some of the people here would like it to be.

phx said...

I must admit that I often wonder if I would be brave like that in such a situation. I certainly want to think so, but I have no idea.

When I was young I used to think you had to prepare yourself to do the right thing, you had to think about it a lot (like Lord Jim, right? If you ever read that). You had to imagine yourself jumping into the burning house.

I don't know what I really think about that today. I just wish I do the right thing. Why think about it? Perhaps we should be doing good things instead of thinking all the time.

Original Mike said...

"She learned her values from her parents, "socialist atheists..."

That can't be. I've had it explained to me more than once here that atheists have no sense of right and wrong. It's not possible.

Lem said...

Fortunately there are still poeple willing to take great risks to do the right thing.

rcocean said...

"It takes a weird sort of mind to complain that the Times focuses too much attention on Jewish holocaust victims."

Straw-man demolished, clean-up on Aisle 10!

rcocean said...

I wonder what the Nazi's would think of Mitt Romney?

Discuss.

traditionalguy said...

PHX...I see your point. But the courage to save a refugee in the face of a murderous government by disobeying it seemed to be the issue to me. A private abortion by the mother is Constitutional says the 5 Philosopher Kings.

But how does that principle not apply to abortion by Government paid executioners?

As Moses may have thought, "I am so glad that Hebrew mid-wives and my parents defied Pharoah's death squads that one day I will fearlessly take my Rod and my extrovert brother and go see Pharoah about some travel plans for six million Jews."

bagoh20 said...

"The latter kills a sentient human being and the former doesn't."

"Sentient: Able to perceive or feel things"

Is that really where you want to draw the line? In that regard, what's difference between a person in a temporary coma and a newborn about to have scissors plunged into it's brain.? And, let's assume in both cases that just the mother of the person doesn't want them to live.

phx said...

@traditionalguy Will a fool persist in his folly?

Bender said...

While these were indeed acts of heroic virtue, it would appear from the personal testimony of Tina Buchter Strobos, and the testimony of her Jewish one-time fiancé, Abraham Pais, that she was also guided by personal and political motives, given that she started by helping Jewish (and Zionist) friends and was also part of the Dutch militant underground.

Revenant said...

Don't cherry-pick, bagoh. Most definitions of sentience include consciousness and self-awareness.

And yes, I'm perfectly happy drawing the line there.

Revenant said...

Straw-man demolished, clean-up on Aisle 10!

You claimed the NYT considers saving a Jew to be five times as significant as saving an American POW and infinitely more significant than saving a Filipino.

So, no, my summary of that as "the Times focuses too much attention on Jewish holocaust victims" was not a straw man; it was perfectly fair.

You said something utterly moronic and got called on it. Man up or shut up.

phx said...

Word.

traditionalguy said...

Phx...There is no fool like a fool that risks their life to save strangers from a murderous government.There is no do over in that work.

Playing it safe is civilized and usually the wise play leading to a comfortable retirement. Lawyers fight as civily as we can incurring a few contempt citation threats, but taking little real risks other than to reputation

But if a man won't risk his life to save another, then he is missing out on the exciting times.

phx said...

Traditionalguy you said something utterly moronic and got called on it. Man up or shut up.

phx said...

traditionalguy Well, actually you did. You "said" you saw my point.

But then you went on again.

There's a time and place, bra.

Bender said...

That can't be. I've had it explained to me more than once here that atheists have no sense of right and wrong. It's not possible.

Then you've had it explained to you wrong, or you simply weren't listening.

Sure an atheist can have a sense of right and wrong, just as anyone can. But the objective and transcendent concepts of "right" and "wrong" do not and cannot have their source in their being atheist.

“Your conscience tells you to do it," said Strobos.

Well God speaks to the heart of even atheists. And if they are not hard-hearted, they can hear Him -- that is the conscience.

And it helps to surround yourself, as did the intellectually-atheist Strobos (read her testimony, link above), with a bunch of people who do believe and to otherwise be pervasively exposed to faith.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

"If you want a real head-scratcher, ponder that the Nazis were harshly anti-abortion"

And yet the Nazis were influenced by Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger's racist pro-eugenics theories.

traditionalguy said...

PHX...I can't follow your smug logic. I think that you do not yet understand courage. Courage is the connection.

And courage is very real thing. Whether it is a fool or it is a moron that exercises courage, he will fight you and he will win.

Bender said...

Jeff - note Rev's entire quote --

If you want a real head-scratcher, ponder that the Nazis were harshly anti-abortion; they overturned Weimar's legalization of the practice and implemented a death penalty for providing an abortion to an Aryan woman.

They were NOT anti-abortion per se, they were against members of the Master Race aborting.

As for Jews, Gypsies, the mentally handicapped, and other undesirables, untermenschen,, and "useless eaters," they were all too eager to have them self-exterminate. The Nazis even helped by forcible sterilization.

Revenant said...

As Moses may have thought, [...] one day I will fearlessly take my Rod and my extrovert brother and go see Pharoah

... and tell him "my god's going to kill a whole bunch of your kids"? :)

Writ Small said...

Nice speech by Dr. Strobos

Writ Small said...

@Rev - If you're going to paraphrase what I said, please stick to the words or ideas I used.

traditionalguy said...

Rev...LOL.

Meek Moses was only passing along what Yaweh told him to say to Old Hard Heart after 9 warnings. Or maybe the Judging part of Yaweh was still remembering the newborn male Hebrew babies that Pharoah's father had thrown in the Nile, and Yaweh's wrath overdid it a little.

Moral of the story seems to be never to underestimate the power of a lamb's blood smeared on your door when Death Angels are levying Judgements.

Revenant said...

And yet the Nazis were influenced by Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger's racist pro-eugenics theories.

Not that I'm aware of. Sanger was a racist eugenicist, but not a source of inspiration for the Nazis. There were quite a lot of racist eugenicists in those days -- a majority of voters, judging from the popularity of the laws. Google Laughlin's Eugenics Record Office if you want info on their real inspirations.

Revenant said...

@Rev - If you're going to paraphrase what I said, please stick to the words or ideas I used.

If I stuck to the words you used, it wouldn't be a "paraphrase", now, would it?

But since you brought it up, fine:

It was really tacky for Writ Small said "Just a hunch, but I suspect she was not the sort of athiest who go around trying to get public displays of religion stamped out". Although not as tacky as what t-guy said.

There. Now you're being criticized for making the exact kind of tacky comment you made, instead of a paraphrased version of it.

Revenant said...

Meek Moses was only passing along what Yaweh told him to say to Old Hard Heart after 9 warnings.

Well, his heart had specifically been hardened *by* Yahweh , because -- per Exodus 11-12 -- Yahweh wanted to show his power to the Egyptians. Yahweh told Moses up front that the warnings wouldn't work.

Basically, he killed kids to prove a point. This is one of several reasons why the Old Testament is lousy support material for a pro-life position. The other major one is that the laws handed down by Yahweh treat killing a fetus far more leniently than killing a person. The former is punishable by a fine whether it was deliberate or accidental; the latter is punishable by exile (if accidental) or death (if deliberate, or if the exile left the city of refuge).

Writ Small said...

There is a glow of goodness from what this woman did - courage greater than many of us are capable of.

There is a strong inclination to try to associate one's causes with that goodness; it’s human nature.

Her parents being atheists should make people reflect on the idea that true goodness is possible without a connection to God. Bender addresses this point. As an atheist, I disagree, but he well states the religious perspective.

Now there will also naturally be an inclination for atheist activists who do a lot of intolerant things such as seeking to ban private religious displays on any public lands to associate this woman's goodness with their misguided tactics.

Given this woman's specific partnership with a religious minority who the state actively persecuted for their religion, I did not think it was a significant leap to suggest that religious intolerance would be an unlikely characteristic of this woman.

If that is tacky, so be it.

traditionalguy said...

Practice Tip: Never argue with Revenant.

Bender said...

It should be noted that the eugenics and racial theories of the National Socialists proceeded upon a separate, but parallel track for the programs of the German medical community, including the child euthanasia and T-4 programs, and the political programs that utilized medicalized death, including Sonderbehandlung, (special treatment), and the 14f13 project.

And it was these latter programs of the medical community that offered a solution -- the final solution -- to "the Jewish question" (a question which France had asked as well).

Indeed, the same gassing equipment used in the T-4 and 14f13 hospital operations were dismantled, transported, and re-installed at Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Sobibor.

Bender said...

Her parents being atheists should make people reflect on the idea that true goodness is possible without a connection to God.

Question -- wholly apart from the issue of "God," does true goodness exist without a connection to the self?

That is, are truth and the "good," whatever they might be, objective realities that transcend the personal beliefs of the individual? Or is whatever one might arbitrarily and subjectively assert to be "good" is therefore good?

And whether they do or not, are those thoughts and beliefs of the individual freely made or are they wholly determined by the biological process of electro-chemical reactions in the brain? Do persons possess the capacity of free and autonomous thought, or are they slaves to biology?

Do free will and self-determination really exist, or are they an illusion?

bagoh20 said...

"Don't cherry-pick, bagoh. Most definitions of sentience include consciousness and self-awareness.

And yes, I'm perfectly happy drawing the line there."


I'm not the one hiding behind a technicality.

It sounds like you believe a child just born this second is so less sentient than one born last week that it can be violently killed without concern. That is: one is sentient and one is not, and one is a person and the other not. Now you know that's utter nonsense. The only issue is the political aspect of the mother's choice. She can choose to kill it at the age of one second, but not one week. It has nothing to do with sentience. If the child was born with some temporary milady that prevented it from waking up (being sentient) for a week, we wouldn't say that piecing it's brain with scissors and dismembering it was OK, just because Mom didn't want it, and it never opened it eyes yet,even though we know it would.

I really don't see much difference between an abortionist attacking that newborn and a guy pulling the levers on the gas chamber. Both are following the law, and doing something repulsive to anyone who values innocent life. I say this as someone who is mostly pro-choice.

Writ Small said...

That is, are truth and the "good," whatever they might be, objective realities that transcend the personal beliefs of the individual?

I'll stipulate that goodness, truth, and free will all exist and are not dependent on perspective or biological processes. Did I spring a trap?

JAL said...

And they give Nobel Peace Prizes to Yassar Arafat, Al Gore and Barack Obama.

Revenant said...

It sounds like you believe a child just born this second is so less sentient than one born last week that it can be violently killed without concern.

I have no control over what my statements "sound like" to you.

Bender said...

No trap. No tricks.

But merely reflect upon the existence of transcendent truth and of such an extra-corporeal aspect to the person, that we are more than our physicality.

If we lift our hand and move our fingers because we consciously choose to do so of our own volition, and not because of some pre-programmed biological memory and electro-chemical reactions in a computer-like brain, what might one call this component of our being that is able to rise above and go beyond the merely physical?

Jennifer said...

How does the obituary of a phenomenal human being become an abortion debate?

Roger J. said...

What Jennifer said: the lady was a heroine. This has nothing to do with abortion but only the innate good is some human beings irrespective of their political beliefs.

Rusty said...

Jennifer said...
How does the obituary of a phenomenal human being become an abortion debate?



Ferget it, Jenn. It's Madison

Rusty said...

I wonder if the carpenter got any recognition?

EKatz said...

I always wonder about stories of heroic women whether it would be unusual for a man. Usually not.

Don't kid yourself. Most people, whether they're men or women, don't act like heroes in situations like these. We've seen this over and over again in history and see it now, in the willingness to turn a blind eye to evil or turn on your neighbors and participate in atrocities, if you're not already a soldier or in law enforcement carrying out the atrocities to begin with.

People like this lady have always been in the minority.

I detect patronising, namely a braver than you'd expect from a woman story.

I didn't. Maybe because you were fixating on the fact that she's a woman you detected patronizing, or heard that tone in your own head, but the descriptions of what she did weren't harping on the fact that she's female. The article also links to the website for the Righteous Among the Nations - you'll find a bunch of heroic men and women there, and no one is getting patronized.

Revenant said...

f we lift our hand and move our fingers because we consciously choose to do so of our own volition, and not because of some pre-programmed biological memory and electro-chemical reactions in a computer-like brain, what might one call this component of our being that is able to rise above and go beyond the merely physical?

"Free will exists" does not imply "things beyond the merely physical exist".

Free will, if it exists, could be a property of certain arrangements of matter, e.g. neurons. We know that particles spontaneously come into being all the time; it is a natural property of space and energy. Perhaps thoughts are similar -- a natural property of neurons.

The physical universe is sufficiently amazing that one doesn't need to imagine a world beyond it. The one we're in is weird enough.