I’d like you to meet Tiny Kuipers-Vermij. She is one of Rienk Kuipers (born 1905 The Hague. Deceased 1945 somewhere in Lübeck’s harbor) eight children who was a minister of the church in Wanswerd a/d Streek (now called Burdaard) in the Netherlands. As a young girl Tiny remembers her father as a loving man working hard to help everybody in his community. On Sunday the 4th of February 1945 Rienk Kuipers was taken by the Nazi’s. During the midday service the Nazi’s surrounded the church. The organist Ebeltje Kalma, who sat higher in the church, was able to see the Nazi’s. She warned Rienk Kuipers and Kuipers warned in a hidden message what was going on. Some people in hiding went up a small ladder to get to safety but forgot to pull it up. When the service was over the Nazi’s did a search and found the ladder and the people up there. Rienk Kuipers and some others were taken to Marrum. Everybody was released except for Rienk Kuipers. On Monday morning Christien, Rienk Kuiper’s wife traveled to Marrum to see her husband and bring him some clothes. Rienk Kuipers whispered in his wife’s ear that some documents needed to be removed from his rectory. She removed it in the afternoon just in time because the ‘Sicherheitsdienst’ did a search. Another resistance man (the father of Jo van der Laan) also went in to remove some things. They also did a search in the family’s home.
He was brought to prison in Leeuwarden and later to the ‘Scholtenshuis’ in Groningen also known as ‘antechamber of hell’. A notorious jail where the Nazi’s brutally tortured resistance workers. On the 14th of March Rienk Kuipers was brought to concentration camp Neuengamme on the last transport from the Netherlands to the camp. When the allies came closer the camp was closed and Rienk Kuipers was brought to the harbor of Lübeck, put on a ship and taken off again. Survivors have told the family Rienk Kuipers was very sick and died of the treatments of the Nazi’s.
Rienk Kuipers was a minister and therefore a known figure in his community. Because of this he knew many people allowing him to help in the resistance against Nazi Germany. Kuipers was also member of many resistance groups such as ‘Schoolverzet, LO and the illegal ARP and Rienk Kuipers was also a man that would give advice to the resistance. Every now and then a resistance worker would visite him. He also travelled through the country to pick up Jews and help them to find a safe hiding place. He would not just drop people of but also visit to make sure everything was alright.
Kuipers opened up his rectory for a group of resistance workers to have meetings. He helped gather safe places for people in hiding and played a big role in the Schoolresistance. During the Nazi occupation the Nazi’s saw it as an important task to reeducate children and teach them the Nazi ideology. Many books had to be destroyed and allot of chapters needed to be removed from the books. Also the Nazi’s forced pro-nazi teachers in to the educational system and tried to kick out as many teachers known to be against the Nazi’s. These teachers kept on teaching but because the government payed for it these teachers lost their income. The Schoolresistance had a network of important people. Therefore they were able to create fights between Nazi officials in the Ministry of Education. Because of these fights created by the Schoolresistance teachers needed to be fired never were.
Rienk Kuipers was an active resistance man. But he never wanted to be a hero. In fact, if he survived the war he probably was even more unknown. He did what he did because he was against the Nazi regime and the Nazi ideology and wanted to do something against it. He was not the only one. He was not the only one in the resistance and not the only one the Nazi’s killed. In Neuengamme more than 55.000 people died. Rienk Kuipers was one of them. There are therefore more than 55.000 stories of Neuengamme whom did not survive the war. In the whole province of Friesland more than 300 resistance workers died again Rienk Kuipers was just one of them. In Friesland 20 ministers died due to the Nazi’s. The story of Rienk Kuipers is not unique. This story is one of the many stories of somebody fighting against the Nazi’s.
Steven van Koeverden | +31617351867 | firstname.lastname@example.org