What would you do if your life was completely shaken? What if your country was taken over by foreign enemies who have no respect for life or freedom? What would, or what could, you do? What if you were only thirteen?
These are the questions that Hortense Daman had to face when the Nazis charged like lightning into her little country of Belgium. Bringing cruelty and death alongside them, they threatened to destroy all that Hortense knew and loved. She longed to take action against them, and she was soon a message girl for her brother Francois, a wise leader in the Belgian resistance movement. By age fifteen, she was an official courier for the Belgian Army of Partisans. She quickly learned the German language, and all the best ways to convince the Nazis that she was a little girl who would have nothing to do with escape lines, sabotage, etc. Her brother tried to warn her of the horrors that would happen if she was caught. She did understand the consequences of her decision, as much as a teenager could, but it didn’t change much. She had to do what was right.
She barely evaded capture many times, but on February 14, 1944, there was no escape. Seventeen-year-old Hortense, her father, and her mother were sent into the torturous world of German prison life. She and her mother were sent to Ravensbruck, where they endured great horrors–surrounded constantly by torment and death. Only by a series of inexplicable miracles did they survive. In May, upon the end of the war, the entire family was able to return home.
This is a story of fortitude stronger than torture, of courage stronger than pain, and of hope stronger than doubt. It shows the power of family and the power of duty. Hortense, though so young, knew the calling God had given her. He gave her strength and wisdom beyond her years so that she could fight for freedom. I am certain that Hortense’s story will continue to be an inspiration to many.