In 1940, the German military machine brutally invaded and occupied Holland, an occupation that would last until the end of World War ll in 1945. They seized Jews and others for mass execution and sometimes they killed people right on the spot, in a loud echoing gunshot blast to the head.
Of the 100,000 Jews in Holland when the Germans invaded, only 30,000 survived, but 15,000 of that 30,000 survived because brave Dutch people hid them.
Those brave Dutch people included Tina and her mother.
In the heart of Amsterdam, only a few blocks from where Anne Frank and her family were hiding and later captured, Tina lived with her mother and the two of them were determined to rescue as many of those Jews and others as they could.
While it was extremely dangerous to do, it was part of Tina’s background. Tina was born Tineke Buchter in Amsterdam to Marie Schotte and Alphonse Buchter on May 19th, 1920.
Although her parents later divorced, they were atheist socialists who rescued Belgian refugees during World War l and starting in 1933, prior to World War ll, when Tina was just 13 years old; they rescued refugees fleeing Germany and Austria from the Nazis.
During World War ll as Jews, Communists, trade unionists and others fled Nazi execution, mother and daughter went into action to save them. Working closely with the Dutch Underground (DU), their attic was altered to house fleeing refugees and to be nearly undetectable by German troops.
They often hid four refugees at a time, sneaked in hopefully without neighbors detecting them, for detection could mean instant death at the hands of the Nazis.
Before the DU could sneak the refugees out, days sometimes turned into weeks and then those refugees would be replaced with other desperate souls.
Because of the war, food was in short supply and carefully rationed, with Tina often hungry and cold riding a bike to share food ration stamps with people hiding Jews elsewhere.
But the Gestapo, among the Nazis worst of the worst, was not easily fooled and they seized Tina nine times for interrogation. Fortunately, Tina spoke what she many years later called “perfect German” and was usually able to talk her way out of arrests.
But one time the Gestapo asked their questions so brutally, Tina was thrown against a wall and left unconscious.
Meanwhile, Tina also hid weapons for the DU and dispersed radios for them so they could get the latest news and take informed action. In addition, she helped create false ID’s to assist in moving those in hiding through Holland and out to safer locales.
During this time, Tina was a medical student, studying to become a doctor. But when she and the other students refused to sign a Nazi loyalty oath, the Nazis abruptly closed their school.
Tina informally studied and after the war, got her medical degree. In the early 1950’s, she went to London and studied psychiatry with Anna Freud.
Afterward, she and her first husband, neurologist Robert Strobos, moved to New York, where she did her residency in psychiatry and neurology at Westchester Medical Center. Tina subsequently established a medical practice, as a psychiatrist caring for the mentally disabled, for reaching out to those in need was always vital to her.
Tina was profoundly affected by the horrors she witnessed during World War ll, and as a result, throughout her life, she was an outspoken activist against mankind’s brutality, regardless of how that brutality was supposedly justified.
For example, in her 80’s she repeatedly criticized the U.S. government for torturing what it called “terrorists,” for she well understood the horrific acts the U.S. was committing.
In addition in 2005, 85-year-old Tina, from her Rye, NY home attempted to help people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. For no matter her age, she could never ignore people who were suffering.
In Tina’s personal life, she and her husband, Dr. Robert Strobos had three children, two sons and a daughter, but the Drs. Strobos were divorced in 1964. Three years later, she married Walter Chudson, an economist, and the couple remained married for 35 years, until his death in 2002.
Then 10 years later, on February 27th, 2012 the life of this remarkable lady with a huge heart also came to an end. Tina was 91 and passed away in her home from cancer, surrounded by her many loved ones and friends, as she lovingly said goodbye to everyone.
She is survived by her children, two Chudson step-children, seven grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.
However, Tina is also survived by the many descendants of the people she rescued during World War ll, putting her life on the razor’s edge of death each time and survived by her many patients and their families to whom she devoted herself.
Why did she take such extreme risks against the Nazis during the war? “It’s the right thing to do,” Tina told The New York Times. “Your conscience tells you to do it. I believe in heroism, and when you’re young you want to do dangerous things.”