Tzedakah” - Stories of righteous ones in the
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Hunted Like a Deer
the emancipation in 1794, records show that a Jewish family came and settled in Winterswijk which was an
attractive small town located near the border of
The wall of the Winterswijk Synagogue containing the restored foundation stone
This new Synagogue located in the Spoorstraat was dedicated with much pride and joy on 14 August 1889. The Hebrew Scripture above the entrance reads, “Then I called upon the Name of the LORD” (Psalm 116: 4). The Hebrew letters in their numerical value added up to the Hebrews year of 5649, or 1889, the year of dedication.
Little did these Jewish population of Winterswijk know that just fifty three
years later their little town would become the very nerve centre of a well
organised group of Protestant Christians who would commence hiding and saving
of many Jews throughout the
Above & below: The Winterswijk Synagogue was completed in 1889
These five Winterwijk Jews defeated their
enemy by staying alive and testifying to the world about these horrific years.
For amazingly there were those who hated Jews and actually backed the Nazis.
These evil deceivers even claimed that the Holocaust never happened that the
whole story was a Jewish lie. These Ultra right wingers also claim that the Jews used this lie in order to
Sadly, this lie is being claimed by certain
evil men, including certain christian’s, yes, you heard it,
christian’s. To this day They are the evil and most hideous Holocaust
deniers and will have a place where all those who are sinners will end up!
“The wages of sin is death.” Amongst these so-called christians are
one of the most wicked of them all; the “Ku
Klux Klan,” but also here in
Because Winterswijk was so close to the German
border, some of its population was sympathetic with the Germans at first. Yet,
from the very heart of this town came the Dutch National Resistance, who aidded
the Jewish population not only
in Winterswijk but throughout the
In Winterswijk, apart from the handful of survivors from those taken captive, thirty-five other Jews lives were rescued. They, and so many others throughout the nation, owed their lives to one godly woman, her husband and their pastor.
Near, het Stadhuis (the Town Hall) stands a statue of a lady; you will note that close to her side, stands a deer. Its head is turned upwards and it is looking at her. Its eyes movingly look up into hers, as if to say, “I know I can trust you.” She stands there with a special kind of humility and love, her very presence is saying.
The statue of the Lady with a Deer
to me, you who are hunted like a deer. With me you shall be safe for God is
with us. Does He not call you, ‘
This monument is of a lady who was known as
Tante (Aunty) Riek, however this was not her real name, but her code name. Her
real name was Mrs. Helena Theodora Kuipers, nee Reitberg. Through some friends,
Mr & Mrs. Kuipers had met a fine and a godly Pastor, Fritz Slomp who had
been in hiding from the N.S.B. (the Nationalist Socialist party) and the Nazis.
Thus he had to move from one place to another, he became better known as “Fritz de Zwerver” (“the
Wanderer”). Together with this faithful man, Tante Riek became
responsible for uniting various underground organisations that sheltered Jewish individuals and their
families. Her strong faith gave her a genuine concern and love for the Children
of Israel. She and her husband felt spiritually led to commence this work
throughout the entire nation, and soon a nation-wide network was established
with many suitable hiding places being found. Her vision and spiritual
determination saved thousands of Jewish
lives as well as thousands of others, including English and American pilots who
were shot down over the
The plaque on the retaining structure of the monument reads as follows …
heft haar gedragen, de lievde gaf haar Kracht. De hoop deed niet verslagen, tot
redding was gebracht” Translation … “Faith did carry and sustain her. Love gave her strength.
Never losing the hope until salvation had come.”
It is most interesting to note that the words “The Hope” is recorded in
“Thus saith The LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold of the garment of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you” Zechariah 8: 23.
She knew that
Some of the details of this story came from a moving interview with the then, eighty-five-year-old Mr. Kuipers, known affectionately in the resistance as Oom (Uncle) Piet. He agreed to an interview, but only on the basis that he and his dear late Helena, “now home with the LORD” would not be glorified, or made into a folk hero. “This simply will not do. There were so many others that also did so much,” he said.
I certainly believe that these fine folk are a true picture of humility. But, more above all these are a people that have shown what true faith is, and that they have placed their faith before their own needs, even giving their own lives knowing they are saving those of others.
These Righteous (Tzadik) ones are greatly loved by the LORD the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They fully believed in God and “His only begotten Son” Jesus their Messiah. Mr. Kuipers continues
“Our faith in God gave us strength to do
His will. It required prayer, much prayer, and a readiness to serve Him, no
matter what. My dear partner in life, my beloved
The LORD God showed us that He had …
watchmen, who would never hold their peace, pray and comfort His people Israel,
for whosoever touches Israel would touch the apple of God's eye” Isaiah
62: 6, Isaiah 40: 1, Zechariah 2: 8, 7 & 9.
On 10 May 1940, the German forces captured Winterswijk.
“From that moment we the people had no further say in our own affairs. All Dutch and local politics were outlawed. “The traitor’s party,” the N.S.B. took control. We remember N.S.B. members dancing with joy, greeting the German invading armies, their Nazi comrades.”
Life in general took a sudden and dramatic turn in Winterswijk, and the changes would eventually affect the entire nation. A good number “burgers” (locals) took part in the underground. Most were strong young men and women. Some became famous through their heroic deeds, as was the case with Mrs. Kuipers, alias Tante Riek.
Mr Kuipers continues …
“The local resistance became so strong that the Germans commenced a campaign of humiliation. Using N.S.B. informers, they entered homes of those that were knows to have anti-German feelings. At first, they would be humiliated in front of the townsfolk and forced to public toilets. This was typical German humour.
The first year was tolerable, but then came the years of great tragedy and pain. Our hearts filled with sorrow wished to act, to do something. Local Jewish burgers were being transported like a hunted deer, to the death camps. We cried, “O LORD God of mercy help them.” The LORD did answer our prayers. Little did we realise that He would actually use us in His plan.
I remember one day, a N.S.B. traitor entered the local kosher butcher shop and threatened the butcher and his wife by saying, “Your end is near, death awaits you.” Two days later, German trucks raced towards the butcher shop and home, dragging the family out in the street in a mad frenzy. As locals looked on helplessly, the butcher and his family were severely beaten, mocked, and then forced on the truck to be transported to a death camp. Several days later the N.S.B. members announced with great pride, “The Jew butcher and his family are dead.” What a victory, murdering a helpless man, his wife, and little children! Our hearts wept for them. We could imagine the pain and trauma that these poor loving ones had to suffer.”
and Mrs Kuipers lived at number 8 Willinkstraat. In the autumn of 1942,
together with Pastor Slomp, a plan was devised in their home to re-organise and
centralise groups that housed “Onderduikers”
(people in hiding). Mrs. Kuipers felt that God had shown her a way to
combine all the hiding places throughout the
It was not very long before the Nazis became
aware of the resistance in Winterswijk, and thus great care had to be taken to
protect one another. Few ever knew the real names of their contacts, they only
knew them by their code-name. Tante Riek's LO enlisted volunteers from every
corner of the
Mr Kuipers continues …
“As time went by, many involved with the LO were captured and thrown into prison, or were shot on the spot. A few would be released, and were quickly placed under surveillance in the hope that they would lead the N.S.B. to the Head Quarters of the resistance in Winterswijk.”
In 1944 the Germans stepped up their campaign to rout out the LO and many were caught and arrested. One day Tante Riek and Piet were warned by a faithful local police officer, a Mr. Gunnink, that an attack on their home was imminent. That day Mr. Kuipers was suffering from a high temperature, but immediate action was warranted and they managed to get out of town on the next train. Just fifteen minutes later, their home was broken into and ransacked. Mr. Kuipers recalled …
“As we were leaving our hearts were filled with pain and sorrow for all those that had already been captured and executed.”
Tante Riek and Piet went into hiding themselves. This had been prearranged should this event become necessary. They went to stay with an industrialist, a Mr. van Schuppen in Benekom, a man who had supported the LO over a long period of time financially and personally. Their concealment however was short lived, for on Saturday 19 August, a warm summer’s day, Nazis who had received information from an informer, attacked the home. Tante Riek and Piet were taken to a transit prison and placed in adjoining cells. Tante Riek’s cell at least had a bed, but Piet’s cell was completely bare, just concrete all around. Whilst they were there they were not given any food or water whatsoever. But as Mr Kuipers said …
“We were thankful to the LORD that we could communicate by knocking on the wall.”
Mr. Kuipers recalls …
“I could hear
Riek was taken to a nearby transit camp in
“My beloved ones, I have arrived in
Tante Riek arrived at Vucht on 25 August, six days after her arrest. On 7 October, she was placed on a cattle train bound for the women's prison camp in Ravensbruck. She knew in her heart that she would never come home again.
Here we see Dutch Jews boarding the cattle trains at Westerbork
bound for the various deathcamps around
During this long journey in a crammed cattle carriage, all had to use a single bucket as a toilet. Soon it was no longer needed, for it soon overflowed, thus any corner would do. The carriage smelled horrible for there were also those who had already died. In that carriage, Tante Riek managed to scribble a little note on a sheet of toilet paper, which she had saved. When she had finished it, she managed to throw it through a small opening from the train that was taking her on the final journey of her life. She must have prayed very hard that someone would find the note and pass it on, for eventually the note was found by a farmer some distance from the railway line. In due course, it found its way to Winterswijk.
These are the faithful and the final written words of Tante Riek on a sad piece of toilet paper …
“Beloved Piet and children, we are on
wagons waiting to go. Where to? We do not know. STAY FAITHFUL IN GOD, PRAY FOR
ONE ANOTHER. Your ever loving,
Eventually the train arrived at the prison camp of Ravensbruck, the same camp where Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom were imprisoned. (Their remarkable story will be found in the next chapter entitled, “Tzedakah verses Rage.”) It is not known if they met.
Just three months later, Tante Riek, a godly woman, who loved and cared so much for the Children of Israel, who were like a helpless deer, died due the most hideous circumstances, for she was continually tortured for the entire duration she was at Ravensbruck. Why? Because of the crime of daring to save innocent Jewish lives from barbarous German hands.
In the first edition of this book, which was
published in the
Beware: This section is not easy reading, but, it will prove a faith beyond belief! If your stomach cannot stand it, go to “End.” But I do encourage you to read it, for it will change and strengthen your faith and life forever!
German crimes committed against Tante Riek:
The Germans were well aware of Tante Riek’s importance as a leader in the Resistance. Upon arrival, they took her to a cell, a room that became a hell beyond belief. She was hung naked on an icy-cold concrete wall. She was suspended by metal shackles around her wrists, making them bleed profusely as the weeks and months passed. Her feet could not reach the floor, thus she hung there with all her weight pulling on her arms. There were no breaks to relieve one self and she was left hanging on that wall.
Early the next morning SS officers came to interrogate Tante Riek. “Give me names. I want the addresses of all members of your unlawful organisation,” they screamed. Later it was reported by one of the *soldiers present, that Tante Riek remained calm, and started to quote various Scriptures to those who beat her. The interrogation officer asked question after question, but Tante Riek continued to speak of “Jesus,” and how they as “sinners could repent and be saved, washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.”
As time passed, each day was worse than it was the day before, and soon they commenced the most evil torture imaginable. Each day, after questioning, these vile men would invade and brutalise her body beyond belief as they would mutilate a part of her body to the point she passed into a state of unconsciousness, at times even near death.
On the first day, they tore nail after nail with pliers, but still Tante Riek asked God to forgive them, and sung hymns of praise, until she could take it no more. Whenever she was close to death, doctors would come and resuscitate her, for the Nazis wanted to keep her alive as long as possible and “continue to punish this woman who dared to care for the vermin Jews.” Slowly they began to cut parts of the body, so horrid were these evil tortures that it is impossible for us to comprehend, but it involves the removal of the eyes, one by one, then they cutting off her breasts. Still Tante Riek summoned all her strength and continued to praise God, and share her faith with these beasts that were hurting her so much.
I was told that when she died, this incredible lady of God did not even resemble a human being, but just before she took her last breath on earth, she summoned her last of her strength, and asked the LORD God to “forgive and save” her “persecutors.” Tante Riek died whilst faintly singing praises to her Lord Jesus.
The actual day of her death is not known. It is believed that she “went home to be with the Lord,” as Mr. Kuipers told me was “late December 1944.”
Mrs. Helena Theodora Kuipers, nee Reitberg
Lovingly known as Tante (Aunty) Riek
somehow survived the war. But it was not until war was over, that he was
advised that his beloved
The mother of the LO would not live to see the
liberation of her beloved
On May 1955, the then Queen
Mother, Princess Wilhelmina (who was
Queen during the war years), officially unveiled and dedicated the
monument of the “Lady with the
Deer” in Winterswijk, a tribute to Tante Riek, and all who
believed in, and stood for that which was right, be it in the LO or the
Mr. van Schuppen who gave Mr and Mrs. Kuipers shelter in his home, had this to say of Tante Riek,
“Tante Riek was not one to hold a gun in her hand for she was a woman of faith, who was called and challenged by her Christian duty and commitment. For thousands she was the mother of hope!
Pierre Janssen described her in these words …
“She believed in what had to be done. She was not paid. No one told her that she had to put her life in danger. She did this of her own free will.”
the war over, the interior of the Winterswijk Synagogue was left in ruins. It
has since been fully restored and it is again in use as a Jewish house of
worship. Sadly, there are few Jews left to worship in it, as two hundred and
thirty Jewish brethren did not come home. Yet, through the faith of one godly
lady, Tante Riek, and her supporters, we are able to praise and thank God, for
almost ten thousand Jewish lives that survived the Nazi Holocaust. In
“Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivers from death ... THE HOPE (Hatikvah) of the righteous shall be gladness ... The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
*In relation to the terrible torture story that I have related above, readers may have wondered how did I come to know what Tante Riek actually went through and what she did and say during this evil and horrific time?
In the early 1990’s I was speaking at a special event called “Celebration Shalom” in Australia, but of course there were a number of well known speakers from around the world present at this major event.
After one of my messages, an older gentleman
with a strong German accent came to me and he said, “Pastor Reuven will
you please forgive me on behalf of the Children of Israel for hideous things
that I have done, for I was a SS soldier at Ravensbruck in 1944.” We had
a long discussion and he told me “I came to faith a long time ago.”
However, he continued that he remembered a “great lady of faith (Tante
Riek) who was at Ravensbruck who was murdered” and that he had later
“wept and repented before the Lord” and that he had been
“washed clean by the precious blood of the Lamb of God.” Upon
hearing that, I stood up and hugged him and said; “Then brother I have
noting to forgive you for, as our Heavenly Father, though the saving Grace of
Messiah has already forgiven you for your sins. Did He not tell us in His Word
that He remembers your sins no more. Thus, in our heavenly Father’s eyes,
you are and will always be my brother!” We had a long hug and he departed
from me a new man and after Celebration Shalom he returned home to
In conclusion, let me relate some of the
dramatic events that took place when the
“The bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed” Shemos - Exodus 3: 2.
Think about this Scripture carefully,
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