Ries Jansen: A War-Criminal Converted (2)
Bomhof continues the account of the death of the notorious Nazi collaborator Ries Jansen:
Later in the afternoon, his family were all there. There were fifteen people meeting with him in the visitors room. He asked me then to accompany him to the execution post. It was no more a place of terror for us. Together we meditated on Hebrews 12:1-15. The family made a tearful farewell. He accompanied them to the door. Then he called out, “Wife, family, look back once more. Look at me. See how calm I am. Remember this. Listen! My hope is in the Lord Jesus. He is my all. I go with him tomorrow morning to the place I will be executed. There he will receive me into his everlasting arms. Farewell wife, farewell family, look to Jesus. Until we meet…at home!”
Then we continued our discussion on that blessed passage of Romans 8. The hours passed by without our noticing. However, at 1:00 AM, he was very tired. I saw it and ask him if he wanted to rest. He did. That’s how we parted.
At 3:30 AM, there was a knock at the door which woke me up. Jansen did not sleep, but he was visibly rested. He spoke with his brother, who was also a Nazi collaborator. His brother had come from the mines to say his farewell. Ries admonished him to repent and the brother wept when we left.
The rest of the time we discussed Psalm 23, where it deals with the valley of the shadow of death and where it speaks of not fearing any evil, and God’s nearness in all this.
Peace was visible in this man’s heart. But around 6:00 AM this peace retreated into the background. A little later he called out, “O, that post, that post, that post!”
I said, “Brother, you must learn another lesson. That post is the devil. He shows you that post. Don’t look at it, but in faith look only to Jesus.” And with my arm pointing up to the sky, I said, “Jesus’ sacrificial death is all my hope and rest.”
In the meantime, my soul was at prayer. Thanks be to God, the brightness of heaven could once again be seen on his face. A moment later, he called out, “O brother, the post is gone. Jesus’ sacrificial death is my hope and all my rest. There is victory, victory in the blood of the Lamb.” Everyone cried, but me. I could not cry, for my soul was jubilant.
In the dawn we prayed together. After the “Amen,” I asked him to pray. He prayed in silence. When I asked him to do it out loud, he hesitated for a moment because he was not used to that. But after a moment, he prayed. I heard him pray for his parents, his wife, his child, his family, the prison warden, the guards and himself. Finally he asked the Lord to receive him into his open arms.
They called us. We saw many authorities in the hallway. The guards came to shake hands with Jansen. In a closed jeep we sat down, facing each other, flanked by four police officers.
The jeep stopped at an open spot in the forest. Silence reigned all around. A fog hung between the trees. After we walked around the jeep, we saw twenty young men with red berets, military police. They stood there in a semi-circle.
Altogether I counted forty people present. Together we went to the post. He was very calm. A police officer tied a thin rope around his waist. We stood there, hand in hand, and I said, “Brother, until we meet in glory with Jesus.”
I then stepped backward, looked at him, and stopped beside the firing squad. He looked up to heaven and his arm pointed upward. Slowly, for everyone to hear, he called out, “Jezus, uw verzoenend sterven, blijft het rustpunt van mijn hart” (“Jesus, thy propitiating death is the resting place of my heart”).
They blindfolded him.
His hand pointed forward and he said, “Men, you are all my friends. You are not my enemies, but my friends.” He thanked me for the support I gave him in his last hours. Again he pointed to heaven and everyone heard his jubilant cry, “Lord Jesus, through the blindfold I see you, nailed to the cross for my sins.” And still louder, he cried out triumphantly, “Yes, Lord Jesus, I come!”
Shots were heard, echoing through the forest. The angels carried him into paradise.
The Inspector of Police was beside me. He said, “I’m amazed about what that man said. I don’t know him like this. He was always as hard as a stone. Did he really mean what he said? I used to know him. He was terrible. What he was, and now this. I don’t understand.” I said, “Did you not hear his last words? No one is a comedian in the face of death. I have his last letter here. Do you want to hear it?” I read the letter to him. He answered, “Sir, I say nothing. My mouth is closed.”
Some people came and shook hands with me. It made a deep impression on everyone who was there. May the Lord give his blessing to all who read this story.
beautiful story. are the translated works published?
Not really. Gilbert Zekveld would translate these sorts of things and then self-publish them in very small runs for family and friends. Some of his translations are available on-line at Spindleworks; for instance, his translations of some of the catechism sermons of Prof. B. Holwerda.
Thanks for posting this, Wes. Very moving.
Wes, you know I love all of your notes, blog posts, etc…but these 2 on Ries Jansen have moved me emotionally, more than anything you have posted. Thank you for sharing this with me.
[…] This is a two-part story that my good friend Wes Bredenhof posted at his blog My title is different from Wes’ original. Not that I didn’t like his. Mine is simply in honor of the late John Bunyan. Who wrote a soul-stirring account of his life entitled, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. The link to part I of this true account is (here) and Part II is (here). […]