Sunday 14 August 2016

W.H.O? A Forgotten Holocaust Heroine

W.H.O? Stands for Women History Offers and is an ongoing collection of short posts I'm writing up about remarkable women throughout history. This weeks installment is powerful, a silent missionary who may well have been forgotten had it not been for an old suitcase that unearthed a heroine of goodness and Grace...

We know the stories of remarkable women who saved hundreds of Jewish people who otherwise would have perished in the gas chambers of the holocaust. Yet, the story of Elsie Tilney is a stunning story that is missing from our history books. A man by the name of Professor Sands, was doing what most of us do at some stage in our lives, he was unearthing the stories of his family tree. While ploughing through the belongings of his parents, he found an old uninteresting suitcase but when he opened it he found a mysterious handwritten letter which had the name Miss E.M. Tilney on it. He was curious about this mystery name and his search finally uncovered the identity of Miss Tilney.  

The curious inscription belonged to an English missionary from Surrey named Elsie Tilney. At first Elsie was called to mission work in North Africa but during her stay there, God placed a compassionate fire in her heart for the Jewish people. It was a dangerous time to side with the Jews. Hitler was advancing in Europe and slowly but surely Jewish citizens were being round up and put in the gas chamber or in the concentration camp. Having watched this from a distance, Elsie felt compelled to help, she travelled to Paris and began to aid Jewish refugees living in France. Little is known about Elsie's stay in Paris, but little by little stories are coming out about Elsie's bravery and daring. While in Paris she travelled in to Vienna (which was annexed by the Nazi's) to save a small baby who had been separated form her parents. Elsie returned with the little girl and reunited the child with her parents, but what she did could have cost her, her life.

Hitler eventually reached Paris and the city fell to Nazi occupation. Elsie remained behind with the Jewish people, not because she was a Jew but because Father wanted to use her to save lives. Elsie was imprisoned in a converted hotel, along with a number of Jews who held fake passports. These passports protected them until the final solution was declared. Elsie helped aid the people in procuring passports and she hid one man in her bathroom, a man named Sasche. This was a risk of great proportion, anyone who aided a Jew or dared to hide a Jewish soul would be killed together with the hidden individual. But Elsie risked her life to save others. Sasche remained hidden in her bathroom for over 5 months until Hitler and his regime fell. Paris was liberated and Elsie moved to America where she lived with her brother, she did not speak about what she had done for the Jewish people. She did not tell a soul, she took her Messiah's ordained works for her, to the grave with her. Her story forgotten until an old suitcase revealed her memory. 

Elsie's story reminds me of how many stories of Gods goodness has happened over the centuries passed. People marvel at these stories as though they are unnatural, yet our Father calls us to faith, He calls us to love and He calls us to bravery. He calls us not to ignore the need of another but to act where He positions us. He calls us to courage, to strength. How many are the names up in heaven of the people who dared to believe, who dared to give and who dared to live a Messiah - focused life with everything they had. May Yahweh give us all the strength to live a life of sacrifice and power! 

Previously Featured in this series - The Woman on the Mountain in Trousers

Sharing over at Glimpses 

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