The Bosmas are natives of Arnhem, in the Netherlands. They lived in Arnhem during the first three years of the war, where they helped many Jews, but between 1943 and 1945 they were in hiding as members of the Dutch underground. The son, Marinus, recalls that his mother helped find shelter for at least 30 Jewish people, and that they themselves housed at least twelve – a group of four, and later a group of eight. In 1943, Marinus and his father spirited the last group to Amsterdam where they were handed over to another group that helped them escape to Belgium. As far as Marinus knows, only two of the people they helped were captured by the Germans. The Bosmas’ underground shelter was discovered by the SD while Marinus and his father were still in Amsterdam. His mother and sister were held overnight as the Nazis waited for their return. Marinus came home but his father was warned and stayed away. Helena, Marinus and his sister managed to escape out the back door, each going separate ways and leaving all their belongings behind. “Our survival depended on a lot of good people that were willing to help at great personal danger and no monetary compensation,” Marinus says today. “Food stamps, money, clothing somehow showed up. When a people get oppressed by a ruthless enemy as the Germans were, it is unbelievable how people can form a solid united front against a common enemy.” When asked how they were brave enough to help so many people, Marinus says, “I really don’t know. We were lucky, very lucky. And I see now that the good Lord kept an eye on us, watched over us and let us get away with it. Many were not so lucky.”
Marinus and his wife, Nelly, emigrated to the United States after the war with their three children. A fourth child was born in 1956 in Tipp City, Ohio. Helena died in Holland. The Bosmas still live in the Dayton area and winter in Florida. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in September 1999 and have seven grandchildren. They have been recognized as Righteous Gentiles by the Israeli government.
Germany invaded the Netherlands in the spring of 1940, part of the larger Blitzkrieg that overran western Europe that year. The Dutch government surrendered quickly to avoid reprisals and destruction, and the Queen fled to London. During nearly five years of occupation, the Dutch people suffered many hardships but most did not collaborate, and many worked actively against the Nazis through the Underground. The Netherlands was liberated in the fall of 1944. About 106,000 Dutch Jews, or three-quarters of the Jewish population, died in the Holocaust.