Uncovering the Dutch Underground
It all came together last month as I walked up a cobblestone street, looked for the number 4, and knocked. It was a cold night seventy-two years ago when 8 Gestapo soldiers approached the very spot where I was standing. They were disgusted and angry. The couple inside were helping the “inferior” race they were trying to kill. They had killed so many already, but that night they were intent on destroying someone else. Someone standing in their way, my Opa.
I had heard the stories many times as a girl. I always reveled in the miracle that happened that night, and the brave front my Oma put on as she opened the door and was shoved aside. I had often tried to picture the room they rushed into, and all that had happened that night.
But today was different. Today I had a chance to see it, and feel it and to know. Together with my brother Ian, and his daughters Ashley and Michaela, I had crossed the ocean to find pieces of our history that were fading into the past.
It was a year ago that the Brinkman writing team decided to tell the story of Reng and Lynn VanKesteren. My grandparents who risked their lives to rescue Jews during WWII. Their story stands like bedrock in my soul, providing a deep conviction that faith and goodness can prevail in a time of evil and violence.
After a year of researching, interviewing and digging into the past, I found myself humbled, awed, and grateful beyond words to be able to travel there and see it for myself.
I stepped through the door frame my Oma had crossed as they dragged her off to prison. Touched the rough stone that was cold as my Opa hid. I looked up into the big trees behind their house, the trees that saw so much heartache and bravery during those years. The trees my Oma loved.
That moment is forever burned into my mind. It was surreal and almost holy.
The rest of the trip was a whirlwind, like a dream. We found treasures of the past coming alive everywhere we went. We worked hard to cast and direct actors who played out the story with gusto and joy.
I can’t wait to hear this treasured story come to life and be able to share it with you this fall!
Writer-The Brinkman Adventures
The doorway they drug her through
The park and the trees she loved