I’ve written before about Geertruida Lodder Zippro, Relief Society president in the Netherlands during World War II. There are really only a few new details in the following report, written by Franklin J. Murdock, former president of the Netherlands Mission, to the Relief Society General Board, but the report was written at the beginning of the war and seems much fresher and more immediate than the records I worked with earlier, which were written after the war. This account is dated 28 June 1940:
“I had the pleasure yesterday of reading a letter direct from the little war-torn country of Holland. It is the first direct information which we have received relative to conditions there since the invasion of that little country by Germany. The letter was written Sister Zippro, who is president of the Relief Society.
“Sister Zippro is a very intelligent and courageous lady, and we are thankful that the work of the Relief Society is in her hands. She is living in Amsterdam, and just as soon as the two armies had concluded to cease firing, she took her bicycle and bicycled from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, a distance of sixty miles. Naturally, the trains were disrupted and there were no buses running, and she had to depend upon her faithful bicycle to carry her on this journey. It took nine hours to make the trip from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, and the sights which she saw along the way, as she stated, could not be described adquately by her pen.
“The terrible destruction of life and property was abundantly exhibited on every hand. She says she has never seen so many men marching, so many tanks, airplanes, and tractors, which caused a tremendous destruction of life. She left her little family in Amsterdam with her husband and felt the urge to go to Rotterdam to see if there were some unfortunate members whom she could help. This desire seems to me to be the characteristic of a true and noble woman, willing to face the hazards of an invading army in order that the members of our Church might receive some assistance from the Relief Society. She found many families in Rotterdam who had their homes, furniture, and all earthly belongings completely destroyed and had gone to live with other members temporarily. The old hall in Rotterdam had been completely destroyed, but the new chapel overmass was still intact, and the members were planning to hold Sunday School there.
“She visited the members, found out their needs, and immediately set about to raise a collection throughout the mission to care for the unfortunate members who suffered most through the invasion. She is also planning to visit the other members in all branches of the mission and keep the work of the Relief Society moving along. We can all be thankful that we have such a lady as Sister Zippro in the mission in charge of the Relief Society work, and I am sure that she will measure up to every responsibility which comes to her. Her example of bravery and devotion to a cause which is dear to her heart I feel is worthy of commendation, and I thought you would be interested in having this direct word which has just come.”