Dutch woman who helped Jews during WWII dies in GR

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — A western Michigan woman who authored a book chronicling her efforts that helped save hundreds of Jews in the Netherlands during the Nazi Occupation of World War II has died.

Diet Eman died Tuesday in Grand Rapids at age 99, according to Seymour Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. A Celebration of Life service is scheduled at 2 p.m. Sunday at the church.

Eman was born in the Netherlands and was part of an underground resistance following Nazi Germany’s 1940 invasion of the northern European nation. Her 1994 memoirs, “Things We Couldn’t Say,” detailed how Eman provided forged identification cards and shelter for Jews, and how she helped allied pilots shot down by the German military.

She eventually was moved to a German concentration camp before it was liberated.

Eman later would immigrate to the United States and move to Grand Rapids.

Eman’s story and spirit inspired the lives of many in West Michigan including John Evans, who directed the documentary “The Reckoning: Remembering the Dutch Resistance.”

“She’s got Jesus and justice,” he said. “She has one and it causes her to feed into the other.”

Evans said one of his favorite memories of Eman was when she officially became a U.S. citizen in 2007.

“She’s always been so proud to be an American citizen. When she got her citizenship, she just had this smile pressed on her face,” he said. “She was so grateful to be part of a country that held their own convictions.”

Another close friend, Chris Crandle, remembers Eman for her strength and laughter.

“She would always say, ‘Other than a faith in Jesus Christ, the most important thing to have is a sense of humor,’” Crandle said. “She and I laughed…we would just have so much fun laughing together.”

Following Eman’s wishes, James Schaap will speak at her celebration of life planned for Sunday. Schaap co-authored Eman’s book, “Things We Couldn’t Say.”

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