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Fw: Psychiatrist Describes Her Experience Saving 100 Jews from Nazis; "Just Doing 'Right Thing'"; Ethics in Everyday Life

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  • Cheryl Levine
    Nice to know. -c Cheryl B. Levine, Psy.D. Clinical and Consulting Psychologist Positive Perspectives, Inc. 1130 Vester Avenue, Suite C Springfield, OH 45503
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 4, 2010
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      Nice to know.

      Cheryl B. Levine, Psy.D.
      Clinical and Consulting Psychologist
      Positive Perspectives, Inc.
      1130 Vester Avenue, Suite C
      Springfield, OH 45503
      937.390.3804 (fax)

      The Ohio State University Rural Program
      Behavioral Scientist/Preceptor
      4879 US Route 68 South
      West Liberty, OH 43357

      --- On Sun, 1/3/10, Ken Pope <ken@...> wrote:

      From: Ken Pope <ken@...>
      Subject: Psychiatrist Describes Her Experience Saving 100 Jews from Nazis; "Just Doing 'Right Thing'"; Ethics in Everyday Life
      To: "Ken Pope" <ken@...>
      Date: Sunday, January 3, 2010, 12:35 PM

      The new issue of *Psychiatric News* (Volume 45, Number 1) includes an
      article: "Psychiatrist Sees Her Heroism as Just Doing 'Right Thing'" by
      Joan Arehart-Treichel.

      Here are some excerpts:

      [begin excerpts]

      A psychiatrist who helped save some 100 Jews from the Nazis believes
      that not only altruism and courage, but also prudence, are the stuff of
      which heroes are made.

      During the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, the
      Germans threatened the Dutch with death if they helped Jews.

      Nonetheless, Tina Strobos, M.D.--then a medical student in Amsterdam--
      along with her mother, sometimes hid Jews in their home.

      This way the Jews could make their way through the underground to more
      secure refuges.

      Sometimes the Gestapo (the secret police of Nazi Germany) would bang on
      the door of the house in which Strobos and her mother lived.

      They'd then enter the house, push Strobos or her mother into a chair,
      and bark, "You're hiding Jews! You're going to jail."

      They didn't say "concentration camp," although a number of Strobos'
      friends whom the Nazis arrested were sent to concentration camps.

      After that, they'd search the house.

      "You know, we could be killed for this," Strobos' mother once commented
      after the Gestapo had left.

      "Of course I know," Strobos said.

      Strobos also took news and ration stamps by bike--at great risk--to Jews
      hidden on farms outside the city.


      She was seized or questioned nine times by the Gestapo and once was
      hurled against a wall and knocked unconscious.

      Strobos not only survived these ordeals, but went on, after the war, to
      receive a Fulbright scholarship, which enabled her to travel to the
      United States and study child psychiatry.

      After she became a psychiatrist, she remained in the United States.

      Today she is 89 years old and living in Rye, N.Y.

      She retired from practicing psychiatry only last May.

      She has been honored a number of times for having helped save the lives
      of some 100 Jews--for instance, twice she has received a plaque from
      Israel, and last fall she was honored by the Holocaust and Human Rights
      Education Center, based in Purchase, N.Y.


      In March 2001, the Psychiatric Society of Westchester sponsored an
      ethics workshop. L. Mark Russakoff, M.D., then president of the society,
      asked Strobos if she would participate in it since her experiences in
      saving Jews underscored the importance of ethics in everyday life.

      "We were awestruck by her humble, matter-of-fact relating of the
      incredible actions she had taken," said Russakoff.

      "It was inspiring to be with a person who has been confronted with such
      a challenge and rose to the occasion."

      The question, of course, is: why did she?

      "Because that is what I would have liked to happen to me," she replied.

      "It was the right thing."

      However, she also talked about certain personality traits she had that
      may have influenced her heroic behavior.

      "I'm an altruistic person.

      That is why I became a doctor, a psychiatrist.


      The Dutch underground dissidents I was involved with, a group of 10, all


      "One, for instance, was caught using a radio to send messages to
      England.  He was shot and killed."


      Indeed, Strobos believes so strongly that altruistic behavior can be
      taught that she tried to impart it to her own three children while they
      were growing up.

      Today all three work in helping professions--one son is a physician,
      another a paramedic, and her daughter a psychoanalyst--perhaps
      indications that her instruction paid off.

      Moreover, her grandchildren do volunteer work with disadvantaged people--
      perhaps further indication that heroic behavior can not only be taught,
      but passed down through generations in a family.

      In any event, whether altruistism or heroism is inherited, learned, or
      both, Strobos was eager to emphasize that a lot of Dutch people--not just
      she and her mother--put their lives on the line to help Jews.

      "Fifteen thousand Jews were hidden throughout Amsterdam during the
      German occupation," she declared.

      "That took a lot of homes to hide them."

      Indeed, several of the Dutch who helped Jews were the married couple and
      some friends of theirs who hid Anne Frank and her family--just down the
      street from where Strobos and her mother lived.

      "No, we didn't know them," Strobos said.

      But what so distresses her, Strobos added, is that they were not in a
      position to offer an escape hatch to the Franks when the Gestapo
      discovered them.

      She and her mother, in contrast, were able to offer an escape hatch to
      their own fugitives when the Gestapo arrived.

      When the Gestapo banged on the door, she and her mother would sound an
      alarm bell, which the fugitives on the third floor of the house would hear.

      The fugitives could then either hide in an attic recess that a carpenter
      had surreptitiously built or scramble out of a window onto the roof and
      make their way to an adjoining school.

      [end excerpts]

      The article is online at:

      Ken Pope


      "Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?'  Expediency asks the
      question, 'Is it politic?'  Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?'
      But conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?'  And there comes a time
      when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor
      popular but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it
      is right."
      --Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)




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