Fundamentals of Christian Resistance – VI. Holland Under Occupation

It seems amazing, writing in the early years of the twenty first century, that the Dutch seem to have made few preparations for an invasion by the Germans. It is of course, easy to be wise in hindsight.

But as the biographer of Corrie Ten Boom remarked,

In the late 1930’s many in Holland did not recognise the signs of approaching war. Their country had remained neutral in the first World War, and they reckoned that would surely be the case with this war. The Dutch government tried to ignore the signs, assuring the people they did not need to worry because Holland’s desire for neutrality would be respected. At the end of 1939 the prime minister assured the people in a radio broadcast that there was absolutely no cause for alarm. He quoted an old Dutch poem…

“People often suffer the most
by anticipating suffering that never happens.
They, therefore, have more to bear than God gives them to bear.” 1

Because Dutch Christians had failed to understand the Nazi menace before Germany invaded, and had failed to develop either a theology of resistance or a strategy of resistance in advance, they were in disarray when the crisis began. Precious time and thousands of lives were lost as a direct result of their lack of preparation…Why were the Dutch, especially the Christians, unaware of the demonic archaic theology and social theory of Nazism as late as 1940? Was it willful blindness? Was the pacifism of the1930’s in the Netherlands responsible, in part, for their lack of resistance? If pastors had spoken plainly from the pulpit, from 1933 on, and the people had responded, could the Dutch have taken private as well as organizational steps that would have enabled them to resist more effectively when the Germans invaded? 2

[Jongeling] describes the Dutch resistance movement during the Nazi occupation in World War II. He outlines some of the familiar problems in every occupied nation: How far to cooperate with the enemy, how to hide citizens sought by the occupying authorities, how to finance the resistance, how to communicate with each other, how to keep one’s children from being successfully indoctrinated, and how to hamper the enemy’s efforts to suppress freedom? In addition, he directs our attention to the problem facing Christians: How to follow the injunction of the Bible to obey the legitimate authorities, while trying to undermine the temporary authorities? Again, it is the question of legitimacy which is crucial to a successful resistance movement.3

Was it allowed [for Christians in occupied Holland] to make use of lies and deception in the struggle with the Germans? Suppose a search was made, resulting in questioning whether or not suspects had been hiding downed British pilots, Jews, etc. Confirming such questions delivered the hunted persons into the enemy’s hands. Refusing an answer virtually equalled acknowledging that the questioner had guessed right, and therefore did not offer an acceptable solution. Something similar occurred in many other situations. The Bible was scrutinized in search of answers.

Some pointed out that Rahab hid the spies of Israel and deceived Jericho’s king by misleading his soldiers (Joshua, Chapter 2). Other examples were quoted, e.g., the farmer’s wife at Bahurim, doing a similar thing (2 Samuel 17), and many other cases. The final conclusion could only be that the enemy lost his right to a true answer; we are at war, and are allowed to make use of strategems. 1

Corrie Ten Boom’s family gave a lot of thought to the possibility that they could be called upon to hide people in their home:

My own bedroom had a blank wall. A second wall was built a short distance from the first wall, and in the left-hand corner of that second wall a cupboard with shelves was built of which the lowest portion of the wooden back of the cupboard could be pushed up. It was ideal. There was room for six to eight people between those two walls.2

One of the most precious privileges of Christian Holland of the pre-war period was its free, Christian schools, which were not run by the State but by parent-controlled private boards. Financially, these schools had been given equal rights with the so-called neutral state-schools…The Germans had of course their own, anti-Christian strategy ready for these schools. They wanted a uniform school-type for all Dutch children, completely dependent on the State, not only for its funding, but also for its teaching program. This school should have a National Socialist character! The entire young generation was planned to be subjected to the Nazi brainwashing, to be prepared for total fraternization with the German state and Party. In the beginning, this goal was somewhat camouflaged. The intention was to pursue this goal as stealthily as possible.3

[As the war progressed], there was an increasing number of those who had been forced to leave their homes and families because they were hunted by the Germans. They found places to hide, but in a completely unorganized way. [Rev] Slomp wondered if the care for and protection of these hunted and persecuted people should not be organized in a better way…

People who refused to conform to the German orders needed help. They had to find good shelter, and their families needed help. For that purpose there had to be an organization, to be built up from scratch, and at a local basis. In addition, all this required money in large amounts. Rev. Slomp was thrilled by his new task. He crossed the country, collecting small groups of reliable men, addressing them with zeal and compassion, and opening everyone’s eyes. Wherever he came (for the time being under the name “elder van Zanten”) he formed small committees, which would set up local work. On Sundays the Reverend surfaced in various Reformed congregations, preaching as a visiting minister. Always he delivered a sermon, sharply exposing the antagonism between the Christian faith and National Socialism and calling his listeners to the choice whom they wanted to serve: Christ or anti-Christ. 4

The families of those who were hiding required financial help also. It was fortunate that in the summer of 1943 the National Support Fund (N. S. F.) was founded, which raised very large sums to support the families remaining behind. Travel and lodging of those who participated directly in the resistance also required very large amounts, but the money came ! In many churches there were regular money-gatherings for “special needs.”  The money went to the  L.O. both from the churches and from rich industrial executives. Sometimes, if money became tight, the military wing raided German vaults, but generally this method was avoided. 1

The struggle of these organizations, however weak and imperfect it sometimes was, was of decisive influence in fencing the German attempt to bring the spirit of the Dutch people under their control. The L.O. hid and took care of more than 30,000 men and women, in a total population of less than 10 million. All these people had to comply with either forced labor in Germany, or death by the firing squad, if they did not hide.2

1 Moore, P., “Life Lessons From The Hiding Place,” 2004, p..92.

2 “Theology…”, p.xxviii-xxix.

3 “Theology…”, p.xxviii.

1 Jongeling, P., in  “Theology…,” p. 320.

2 Moore, ibid., p.99.

3 Jongeling, in “Theology…,” p.322, 323.

4 Jongeling, in “Theology…,” p.325-326.

1 Jongeling, in “Theology…,” p.325-326.

2 Jongeling, in “Theology…,” p.332.

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