In 1943 the German National Socialists that occupied the Netherlands instituted a draft to scoop up as many able-bodied young men as possible, so that they could be carted off as slave-laborers for the German war machine. Thousands of Dutch men and boys went into hiding to avoid becoming helpers for Hitler’s war effort. These Dutch men and boys joined the already thousands of Jews who were hiding from the Gestapo and Dutch collaborators. Two Dutch patriots began an organization to help organize the resistance against Nazi tyranny and to continue to hide as many of their countrymen as possible.
One was Mrs. Helena Theodora Kuipers-Rietberg, a homemaker and mother of five. The other patriot was Pastor Frits Slomp, a preacher who was constantly running from the Gestapo because he would preach sermons that the National Socialists did not approve. One day the two met after Pastor Slomp had secretly preached to a group of Christians in an illegal worship service. After the war, the pastor recalled the conversation: “She said, Frits, I’m at a loss. Our boys have to go to Germany, and we simply can’t permit it. I’ve already found places for the boys here and there, and I’ve hidden some Jews, but I’ve reached the point where I just don’t know how to go on. Frits, we have to found an organization so we can give these people places to hide. Now, I thought you should do it—you should travel all over the country and stir up enthusiasm for this plan.”
The pastor replied that he couldn’t possibly do that. Mrs. Kuipers-Rietberg would not accept his answer. She said, “Oh Frits, would it really be so bad to lose your life if thousands of boys could be saved?” He relented.
The pastor remembered: “I could say nothing more. If you had heard the way she said it, like a mother worried about her children, about the boys, about the hundreds of Jews for whom there was no way out, you too would have kept silent.”
So, Pastor Frits Slomp and Mrs. Kuipers-Rietberg together created the “National Organization for Help to People in Hiding.” By 1944 he had set up regional committees, with over 30,000 volunteers helping 300,000 people who had gone into hiding to escape the clutches and death camps of the National Socialists. In one village alone, Nieuwland, he convinced the entire town to hide 200 Jews. Somehow he survived the war and died in 1978.
The Gestapo found out about Mrs. Kuipers-Rietberg, arrested her, and sent her to the Ravenbruck concentration camp in Germany where she died in December of 1944.