Last night, Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02) honored the life, legacy, and memory of Dutch resistance icon and West Michigan resident Diet Eman. Congressman Huizenga detailed Diet’s heroic efforts to save lives, assist Allied forces, and fight back against the Nazis during WWII. Last week, Diet passed away at the age of 99. Below are Congressman Huizenga’s remarks as well as the video of his speech.
I rise today to honor the life of a very special hero, who risked her life to care for others and left a remarkable legacy.
Diet Eman, was a longtime West Michigan resident, who was born and raised in the Netherlands. At 20 years-old, she found herself in the middle of the crisis that had overtaken Europe during World War II.
Recognizing the injustices against the Jewish people in Holland – Diet and her fiancée, Hein Sietsma, formed the Dutch resistance group called “Help Elkander in Nood” which means “helping each other in need.”
Throughout the course of the war, Diet organized shelters and provided assistance to Jews in need, reported on German troop movements, and helped downed Allied pilots.
Eventually she was captured by the Germans and spent three months in a concentration camp. However, her spirit and will could not be broken. She outsmarted interrogators, bluffed her captors into releasing her, and quickly returned to her work with the resistance.
Diet has been personally recognized by President Eisenhower for her contributions as well as by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, who deemed her a National Hero for her courage and sacrifice. Meeting her in person last year was a very special memory for me and my entire family.
Diet never wavered in taking a stand for what is noble and lived a life full of bravery, compassion, and purpose.
Through her efforts, Diet helped change the world and make it a better place. May her memory be eternal.