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  • Writer's pictureLinda van Ekelenburg

Fortitude and Faith: Lientje van Ekelenburg van der Mast

Updated: May 18, 2019

A portrait of silent strength

Lientje van der Mast was born on January 8, 1914 in Haarlemmermeer, in North Holland province, near Amsterdam. Her parents were Cornelis van der Mast and Martje Vermeulen. Her earliest years were during WWI, when neutral Holland was nevertheless subject to the vicissitudes of the military and diplomatic conflicts raging around its borders. Her mother died when Lientje was nine years old. On May 23, 1942, she married Dirk van Ekelenburg, a pastor, in the New Church (Dutch Reformed) in Vlaardingen.

Lientje was active in the resistance movement, especially but not exclusively in the efforts orchestrated by Johannes Post and Arnold Douwes, hiding Jews in homes in the small village of Nieuwlande. She and her husband arranged hiding places, provided food and clothing, and made false identity papers and food rationing coupons available to those who were underground.

Because the whole village was involved, with 117 families hiding around 200 Jews, it was believed that the risk of being turned over to the Germans was virtually nonexistent. Unfortunately, despite this level of confidence Dirk was betrayed (by whom it is not known) and captured in January 1945 by the Nazis. After a short stint in the prison camp Assen, he was moved to Neuengamme concentration camp. The British liberated the camp on May 3, but the harsh treatment, illness and deprivation had left him near death, and he died in a British-run hospital in Neustadt on the Baltic on May 11, 1945. His obituary stated:

Our deep sorrow is alleviated somewhat by

the certainty that he has entered into

the joyful presence of his Lord

Widowed at age 31, Lientje was left to raise her two sons, Johannes (born Aug. 29 1943) and Cornelis (Dec. 21, 1944.) In 1983, in Amsterdam, she received the Righteous Among the Nations Medallion from the Israeli ambassador. She died on June 17, 1988 and is buried in Begraafplaats Emaus, Vlaardingen.

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