Diet ("deet") Eman, 90, moved into The Terraces at MapleCreek in October 2010. With the downsizing, she has been going through her old papers, some going back to the time when she was part of a Dutch resistance group against the Germans with her fiance, Hein, during World War Two. For two years, she lived under an assumed name because the Nazi Gestapo wanted to kill her. Consider how young she was, just 20 when Germany invaded The Netherlands in 1940.
The resistance group hid Jewish people and the young downed American pilots and flight crews, both acts punishable by death. They transported weapons and stole thousands of I.D. and ration cards from Nazi offices and distributed them across the country. Even when she was imprisoned under a false name, the Gestapo continued to look for Berendina "Diet" Eman, and had regular contact with her parents. While in a maximum security prison and then in a concentration camp, Diet has said, she "did so super stupid" (pretended to be dumb) so that she would not seem threatening enough to bother with, not worth executing. She believes God preserved her life. Among the other prisoners was Corrie Ten Boom.
On Monday morning, Jan. 17, 2011, Diet was interviewed about her war experiences live on the radio by Shelley Irwin, host of the WGVU Morning Show. Also involved in that interview was Bruce Tinker, who is the director for a local production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" by Grand Rapids Civic Theater running through Jan. 30, 2011. (Shelley is in her first stage role as the woman who rescued Anne Frank's diary, who recently died at age 100.) The third guest for this 24-minute interview was Len Robinson, a director and producer and president of Jewish Theater Grand Rapids. Len served as a coach for the all-gentile cast, helping them with pronunciation of Hebrew and with insights into aspects of the Jewish tradition.
Diet assisted the actors in understanding what things were going on in The Netherlands outside of the hiding place shown in the play. She admits during the interview that working with the drama has been bringing back her post-traumatic stress from the war.
LISTEN TO THIS 24-MIN. INTERVIEW HERE: http://www.wgvu.org/wgvunews/audio/fplayer1.cfm?styid=10195&id=tms
NOTE: Director Bruce Tinker shared that Diet did a wonderful "talk-back" with the play's audience and the actors after the Sunday matinee on Jan. 16, and that she will do so again on Sunday, Jan. 23. This is a great opportunity to hear Diet in person.
For show dates and times and to order tickets to see "The Diary of Anne Frank" by Grand Rapids Civic Theater, visit: http://www.grct.org/ or by phone at 616-222-4000.
Diet Eman's life story is featured in the January 2011 issue of the "Celebrating Life at MapleCreek" newsletter. For your free copy, send your request by email to the editor, John Elmore (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please include your name and your postal mailing address.
Diet Eman's personal story about her wartime experiences is shared in her moving book Things We Couldn't Say -- and in the 2005 documentary film "The Reckoning" featuring Diet and five other people who were involved in the Dutch Resistance during World War Two (produced by Grand Rapids-based Storytelling Pictures).