God’s guiding hand:

A WWII love story

This happened during the Second World War. At that time we were not allowed to have our own radio, so that we could not get news from England and hear where the Allies were. So we had to rent a standard radio from the Germans, which had to be paid monthly.

A man by the name of Mr. Kruyer came to collect this money. He became friendly with my parents and seemed to like visiting our bakery. He was a diabetic and at one point in need of sugar. Mom offered to make some borstplaat (fudge) for him.

After a while Mr. Kruyer asked Dad if his son Roel could work in the bakery. Well, Dad could use some extra help, so he came. Once Dad came in for lunch to listen to the BBC news, and Roel overheard. The next day, we heard the Germans coming with their heavy boots. Some went to the bakery and took Dad. Some came marching in our house. My sister Elba ran upstairs, changed the channel on the radio and hid a gun that Dad owned. If they had found that gun, Dad would have been killed for sure.

Dad was taken to the Gestapo office and from there to Scheveningen jail. The next day, a man from the underground who had heard what happened came and told us that the Kruyers had betrayed Dad.

The next time Mr. Kruyer came to collect his money, Mom sat calmly at the kitchen table. He sat across from her and said: “Isn’t this terrible, what happened to your husband, Mrs. Bruinink?” Mom just looked at him, and later we heard that he said, “I will never forget Mrs. Bruinink’s eyes!”

Cell mates
After three months Mom got news from Scheveningen that Dad was going to be free. She went by train from Enschede with a little suitcase. When she got there, they took Dad and in front of her put him in a different cell. “You think he is going home? Tomorrow he will be shot. He is in the death cell,” a guard said. Meanwhile the neighbours had prepared a welcome home party. They gave Mom a text from Psalm 20: “May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.”

The text was a comfort to Mom. From men in the underground we got word that Dad was sent to Amersfoort, where he stayed for six months. He was there with a group of Christian men. On Sundays they held church services, Dad saying later that it is so important to memorize songs and Bible verses. He would write them on pieces of toilet paper.

After six months he came home, skin over bones. One day after the war a man named Mr. Kooimen, a former cell mate, visited our family. He asked my parents if I could go with him to Enkhuizen to visit his five daughters. So there I went, for one week, with a strange man! I had a great time. While I was biking with the girls by the zuiderzee at that time sat a young boy. I said, “I would like to meet him.” We went once more around the dike and then my friends were gone; I was alone with the young man. That was a Saturday. On Sunday I saw this boy playing the organ in church, and when our eyes met, he winked at me. After church we went for a walk. I had to leave Monday morning; he took over Mr. Kooiman’s job of returning me to the train station. We had a great few hours together. He was from Amsterdam, and told me that he had been praying to meet a Christian girl and I was that girl! A few days later, at home, there was his letter saying that he loved me! I tell you this story because up to this day I know this was the Lord leading our lives. I was only 15 and Willem was 17. We were married several years later. If my Dad had not been in a concentration camp, we would not have met. I want young people today to know that they can put their trust in God to lead them in every area of life, including marriage.

  • Audrey Rang lives in Whitby, Ontario. Her parents started several bakeries after immigrating to Canada, including the one which became Hollandia Cookies.

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