The Erlich Family 
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Dutch resistance survivor to become U.S. citizen

The Associated Press
Feb 24, 2007 12:32 PM

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - After nearly 46 years in the United States, a
member of the Dutch underground, who resisted Nazi occupation of the
Netherlands in World War II, is scheduled to be sworn in as a U.S.
citizen on Tuesday in Grand Rapids.

Diet Eman, 86, told The Grand Rapids Press that she felt like she had to
choose a nation she considered her own. The Netherlands does not allow
dual citizenship.

The Kentwood resident realized on a 2005 trip to the Netherlands that,
when she talked about America, she began many of her sentences with the
pronoun "we." She felt compelled to defend the country, to point out the
good things she believes America has done for the world.

"All of a sudden, it dawned on me that 'we' for me did not mean the
Netherlands any more, but America," Eman said. "I thought, when I came
back here, I better become an American. I feel very honored."

As a U.S. citizen, Eman looks forward to voting, a right she never has
had before. She plans to punch a ballot in the 2008 presidential

"I don't know who their candidates may be. I hope they will say the
truth. I hate it when they vilify each other and attack each other."

Eman's involvement in the resistance began with a friendship with a man
named Herman, a Jew she helped to evade German capture. She and her
fiance, Hein Sietsma, soon were part of a network that hid Allied pilots
and Jews, and broke into German offices to steal food ration cards.

Sietsma was arrested in April 1944 and died less than a year later in
the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Eman was arrested in August
1944 and spent four months in prison before she was let out, only to
join the resistance again.

Members of the Dutch resistance are credited with saving 10,000 Jewish
men, women and children from death, though historians estimate the
Germans killed more than 100,000 Jews from the Netherlands.


Aunt Diet: A New Testament


A simple meal

A heart to heart

A practiced view

A voice that’s art

It rings out true

And lifts us up

And to you

Aunt Diet

I raise my cup


You watched me grow

And fall and flourish

I didn’t know

How much you’d nourish

Until the pain was way too much

Then you appeared

With healing touch.


You inspire me to see

Who I am and who I will be

You help me connect

The dots of my life

And I will always be

Your lieve wieffe

My Aunt Diet


My Aunt Diet spoke softly before an audience of over 150 people

But what she had to say hit people hard.

She chose her words carefully

Decorated by the Queen

Honored by Yad Vashem

Just became an American citizen

Your Torah sustained me

Robbed Nazis

Fiance killed

Hid Jews.

All had the desired impact.

Why we should remember.


People crowded around her afterward

As my father and I shared a knowing look.

“They wanted to touch greatness.”

He agreed.

They should only know.


That is just one part of her story.

And who she is shows up

In every part of her life.

She is more grateful than most

Having lost so much

But having gained at least as much

In faith.


She still fiercely fights for the underdog

Whether stranger or friend,

From the used car salesman who cheats

Mexicans and Haitians by

Selling them lemons and signing them up

For insurance they don’t need,

To dear friends who have been

Raped and murdered.

Guilty husbands, doctors, and judges

Cannot escape her peaceful, yet persistent protests.

She is as relentless as an ocean wave that keeps coming back

Until it hits pay dirt and reaches the warm sands of justice.


I’m so grateful for my touch of tenacity

And Gandhi greatness. 

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