In Memory of Tina Strobos

Dr. Tina Strobos died earlier this week.

She was 91.

She saved the lives of more than 100 Jews during the Holocaust by allowing them refuge in her Amsterdam home.

She gave them food and medical care.

She cleverly found ways to obtain fake passports for them.

She was arrested nine times. Her house was searched eight times. They never found the refugees.

She risked her life to help other people.

And she was an atheist:

“I never believed in God,” she once said, “but I believed in the sacredness of life.”


About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this – you’ve written a very beautiful, poetic memorial here. I appreciate you left the quote intact, including the word “sacredness”. I think it’s important to discuss how we might use such words ourselves if we feel the need to.

    • Gus Snarp

      You say that as if you expect people to be afraid of the word “sacredness”. Why wouldn’t someone include the whole quote?

      • Anonymous

        Probably because the very definition of sacred has strong religious meaning:
        “connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration” (New Oxford American Dictionary)

        • Anonymous

          Errr, see below =P People are very sensitive to word use in our community, and words like “sacred” are often received poorly.

  • FSq

    Skal!

    Chapeau to you Dr. 

    Great read.

  • http://twitter.com/apsalartoll apsalartoll

    As they say, read the whole thing. It sounds like she was an amazing woman.

  • Bob Becker

    I’d like to think I’d have the courage to do what she did. I doubt very much that I would.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    I was just thinking about Psalm 14:1 which, after calling atheists fools, says “They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”

    Bullshit.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Donny-Pauling/616998781 Donny Pauling

      How do you know that wasn’t the case in that time at that place?

      • http://conuly.dreamwidth.org/ Uly

        How do you know “Jews are parasites” wasn’t the truth for Germans in that time and place?

        Bigotry is pretty transparently obvious no matter when it’s from.

      • Anonymous

        Uh, because this story is about Tina Strobos, an atheist who unequivocally disproved that biblical quote.

        Did you forget about her when you were responding to Overlapping’s post?

      • Michael

        How do you know anything in the bible is the case in any time and place other than that iron age place it was written for?

      • Michael

        How do you know anything in the bible is the case in any time and place other than that iron age place it was written for?

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for spotlighting the passing of Tina Strobos.  The world would be a better place if we had many more of her ilk.  

  • Heidi

    Aw, the full article made me cry.  I’m sorry she’s gone. :-( 

  • Anonymous

    But if you mention her to Christians, they’re going to focus on that “sacredness of life” line. 

    • Nordog

       Well, it does play a rather large role in informing her choices in life.  Those very choices that have lead to us discussing her here and now.

      • Anonymous

        Well, it does play a rather large role in informing her choices in life.

        Indeed. And as Strobos herself indicated, in a decidedly secular way.

        The point to be had here is that god-belief isn’t necessary for one to hold a concept of ‘sacredness’.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, she was an amazing woman. Her mother, also an atheist, hid people during WWI. What an amazing family. Thanks for sharing this. 

  • Annie

    Here is a video of the acceptance speech Dr. Strobos gave when she received the Courage to Care Award.  What an amazing woman.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Fap4Y7ro70

  • Chas

    Brings this to mind:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ondboIwZSdQ
    Different country, but I play it every October.

  • Annekiley

    Thanks for sharing this.  She was an amazing person.  Her life should be an inspiration not just to atheists, but to everyone who, by their actions, protest unjust authority.

  • Michael

    Why have I not heard of this person before? I see before me the strongest proof of being good without god that I have ever seen.

  • Anonymous

    Watch out we should keep this lady to ourselves or the Pope might try to make her a Saint! 

    • Mairianna

      Too late – The Mormons have probably already baptised her!

    • Mairianna

      Too late – The Mormons have probably already baptised her!

  • Seladora

    Amazing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Weaver/100000377905225 Mike Weaver

    That is a phenomenal story!

  • Anonymous

    thats a life well led!

  • Keulan

    What an amazing woman. I hadn’t heard of her before now.

  • Anonymous

    What an inspiring article. Thank you for republishing this. An exceptional woman. 
    This is not “good without god”, this is “great without god”.

  • Sue Blue

    I wish I had known this woman!  I wish I had heard more about her instead of religious busy bodies like Mother Teresa.  We need to make sure that true atheist heroes like Dr. Strobos are not overlooked or forgotten by history.   She is a shining example of true morality without religion and should be held up as an example!  Many thanks for this post!

  • Sue Blue

    I wish I had known this woman!  I wish I had heard more about her instead of religious busy bodies like Mother Teresa.  We need to make sure that true atheist heroes like Dr. Strobos are not overlooked or forgotten by history.   She is a shining example of true morality without religion and should be held up as an example!  Many thanks for this post!

  • http://thestir.squarespace.com/ Servaas

     “I never believed in God,” she once said, “but I believed in the sacredness of life.”This is just next level. Did she ever elaborate on record what lead her to believe life is sacred? Any intellectual thoughts on it or was it just the old gut telling her?

  • DKS

    I did know her.  From my childhood forty years ago until now.  What you have read about her beauty and her spirit is wholly true.  She loved people and life . . . with imagination, humor, and daring . . . and without illusion.

    You might be interested to note that some of her close friends were deist believers from various traditions.  I think they had more difficulty understanding Tina fully than she them.

    Pls recall that she also respected them and found deep value in how at least some people live and express religious belief.

    Surely, however, few people could better reveal the possibility of atheism embracing deep morality and even non-magical spirituality.


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