In my teenage years I had a Gentile boyfriend, and since my parents had forbidden me from seeing him because he was a Gentile, we often sneaked into a local Catholic church to be together. I was always impressed by the paintings there of the crucifixion and moved by the sadness expressed in the face of Jesus, as the artist perceived the magnitude of that event. But the times were soon to change, and I would become a fugitive, running for my very life.
From Singer to Survivor
The Lord blessed me with a soprano singing voice, and after studying at the Amsterdam Conservatory, I embarked on a career that led me to sing the Dutch version of Disney’s Snow White. From there my work included: the Grand Diploma in the Geneva, Switzerland World Contest; the role of the Forestbird in Wagner’s Siegfried with the Bayreuth Festspiel Haus; a Command performance of Verdi’s Requiem for the Queen of Holland; many live broadcasts and concert performances; and oratorios like Handel’s “The Messiah” and the many beautiful Christian cantatas by Bach. But, when the Second World War began, my singing career ended abruptly. I was immediately disqualified from any and all regular concert performances because I was Jewish. The newspaper reviews read, “this soloist is not worth reviewing, after all the suffering brought upon us by the Jews.” The Germans did allow a temporary Jewish theater, so I became involved in performing with famous German Jewish refugee artists for the Jewish population.
Meanwhile, the Nazis brought to another theater on the next block, Jews that they had rounded up for deportations to the infamous concentration camps. Because of my involvement with the Jewish Council, which sponsored our work in the theater, we were allowed to minister to the thousands of deportees and were guaranteed we would be the last ones to go. The ‘deportation theater’ had become a madhouse of anguish and filth, housing up to 9,000 people in a place built to seat 1,000. Sick people, old and young, crying children, were huddled together in fear of death, sleeping on louse-infested mattresses all over the floor. There were only two toilet facilities. I contracted lice and scabies all over my body, so much so, that when an opportunity did present itself for me to go into hiding, I could not because of my condition.
While at the theater I became good friends with Mieke*. Her husband had been arrested by the Gestapo, and we decided that I would stay in her house and help with her two small children. My former boyfriend, unbeknownst to me, had become a Gestapo agent out of anger against my parents.
Not only did he try to destroy the Jewish people, but he sent the stormtroopers after me at Mieke’s place.
Thus we entered an unknown world of hiding and escape, fear and agony. For the next four years I lost all I had, my entire family, home and belongings, and had to run from death and destruction, never knowing what the next day would bring, whether I would live or die. We hid out in many places, towns and cities, and each time our arrest seemed inevitable God seemed to put a hedge of angels around us. The longest time in one hideout was 212 days in one room: never going out except by crawling over the ground in the dark to be with my parents. They were hiding in the next house until they were betrayed by the woman who was hiding us--for 25 guilders each. That was the price the Nazis paid for information about Jews in hiding or Anti-Germans listening to English radio broadcasts about the progress of the Allied forces. Alas, nothing had changed since Judas Iscariot! I saw my dear parents rounded up and taken away with bayonets at their backs. They and my lovely younger brother, Eddie, who was betrayed some time later, were all murdered in concentration camps. The only thing Eddie had taken with him was his violin, which he played professionally. He was forced to play it while our people were being tormented and gassed. After the war I met a doctor who had survived, and told me about how the Germans kept Eddie without any medication as he suffered from typhoid and got to the point where his body could no longer cope with starvation. May God help them! It takes the love of Jesus to enable us to overcome and to want to forgive; to say “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
We forgive, He heals the wounds, but the scars remain. Space doesn’t afford here for all that happened. But I can say that our God was in complete control and saw me through. Even when I was held prisoner, having been arrested with a bayonet in my own back, God was there. He freed me right out of the “lion’s den,” forcing them to let me go in a most miraculous way!
From Darkness to Light!
When it seemed to us that our trials would never finish, finally the war came to an end. Suddenly, it seemed from all different directions people began to talk to me about Jesus. Then, I contacted a pastor who sent, believe it or not, a German lady to me. God does have a way with things! She had married an Orthodox Jewish man, become a Jewess, and lived a Jewish life for some 33 years. Her husband died suddenly leaving her brokenhearted and grieving much, but eventually she had found Jesus as her Messiah. For the next six weeks I argued with her about this Jesus, until she asked me to read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. Reading Isaiah 53, I did not understand a single word. Then, as promised, I started reading Psalm 22, and coming to the 16th verse where it says “they pierced my hands and my feet”, I let out one big yell, “Oh my God, that is Jesus, because He was crucified!” I remembered all the Christian paintings I had seen years earlier in that church in Amsterdam, and suddenly all of it made sense. I went back to the 53rd chapter of Isaiah and now I understood each and every word. Hallelujah! The ‘scales fell off my eyes’ instantly, and the first thing I said was “it’s like coming out of a dark hole into the light.” Though I did not know it at that point, I found out later that Jesus is called “The Light of the World.” As I read the Tanakh (Old Testament) all alone in a room, Yeshua revealed Himself to me: then and there I was born again. After reading the Gospels I understood even more. Since those earlier days, God has not only furthered my concert career in the “New World,” but He has enabled me to become a living testimony for Yeshua ha Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah) as my personal Savior. Now, many years later, having been in Israel visiting the places where Yeshua walked and preached, the Word has become even more dear to me. Now it is no longer a dream, but my eyes have seen where He was, and how each day He is always near to us. Amen.