‘We Shall Never Forget’ Bleiswijk, 1940-1945
Stichting Oranjecomité Bleiswijk
‘We Shall Never Forget’ Bleiswijk, 1940-1945
Colofon â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;We Shall Never Forgetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; This book was made possible and published by Leon Erwich, Chairman, Orange Committee Bleiswijk. Author: Mario van Vliet Editor: Evelyn Strube Layout and Design: Mireille van IJperen Audio Book: Evelyn Strube Photography: Oudheidkundige Vereniging and Museum Bleiswijk Printer: Drukkerij Van der Louw English Translation: Vivien Ghio-Erwich Edited by: Lara Vinsen English Audio Book: Vivien Ghio-Erwich With Thanks to, the Oudheidkundige Vereniging and Museum Bleiswijk, and everyone who contributed in the making of this book. The authors have taken the greatest care in the composition of this book. Despite all the care, errors and inaccuracies are unavoidable.
Content Introduction...........................................................................................................4 A quiet little village on the river De Rotte...............................................................7 Anthem of Bleiswijk............................................................................................. 11 Germany invades the Netherlands........................................................................16 Interview: ‘We Were Surrounded By Germans, Our Unwanted Guests’........................ 19 The battle above Bleiswijk....................................................................................22 Interview: ‘I Hid Under The Cupboard Of The Bed Closet, Behind The Supply Jars’..... 23 What the Germans did not know..........................................................................25 Umpie..................................................................................................................31 Interview: ‘Our School was taken over by the Germans’.............................................. 33 The mayor had to go into hiding..........................................................................34 Hunger!................................................................................................................35 Bleiswijk escapes a massacre...............................................................................37 Interview: ‘We Had To Stay Inside When There Were Weapon Droppings’.................. 39 Where is the church bell?.....................................................................................41 Bergschenhoek and Berkel en Rodenrijs...............................................................43 ‘Nichts gefunden, alles in Ordnung’......................................................................45 The fight at the Hunting Lodge.............................................................................47 The liberation.......................................................................................................51 Interview: ‘At Last We Could Celebrate!’....................................................................... 51 Liberation Day 1945.............................................................................................53 My Netherlands....................................................................................................54 After the war........................................................................................................60 Sources and acknowledgements...........................................................................64
Introduction Today, Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg are still the same small and cosy places as they were at the beginning of the 20th century. They may look as if nothing has changed over the years, but a lot has, some good and some not so good. The darkest times were between 1940-1945, not only for Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg - but for the whole of The Netherlands, which felt the weight of German occupation. The inhabitants of Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg saw, experienced and suffered many things during the occupation. These terrible times must never be forgotten. The Orange Committee Bleiswijk decided to write this book about the Second World War and the liberation of Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg as a permanent reminder â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it is compiled of many stories from eyewitnesses, gathered over the years, and it is to be presented to Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg in this special 70th Commemoration year. In the making of this book we would like to thank the Oudheidkundige Vereniging and Museum Bleiswijk - without whose help, dedication, abundance of information and photographs, this book would never have materialised. We are very proud of the Museum Bleiswijk and recommend everyone living in the area to visit and see our many historical treasures. This year, 2015, there is a special exhibition about the war years of our village at the museum. May 2015, RTV Lansingerland will show an episode dedicated to the war years in our borough, which can also be seen online. I would especially like to thank three people: Mario van Vliet - the author of this book, Evelyn Strube - the editor, as well as the voice of the audio book version and last, but by no means least, Mireille van IJperen, who designed the layout and visuals for the book. My thoughts go to everyone we interviewed, those whose stories we told and those in Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg who experienced the Second World War first hand. If anything, their stories tell us that during war, what was once a reality was quickly replaced by another. A reality in which you continue to live and, in spite of threats and devastation, people show their real selves, stronger and more heroic than previously believed.
Through this book those years will never be forgotten. I wish the reader of this book a wonderful journey into the past of our beautiful village, you will meet those you know, as well as heroes you did not. One thing I hope we will all learn through this journey; ‘We Shall Never Forget’. Leon Erwich Chairman, Orange Committee Bleiswijk
Above photo: The Poppetjesbrug and the Dorpstraat seen from the Hoefweg. Photo below: The farm Hoop Vleit de Landman on the Hoekeindsweg road (not to get confused with the farm on the Hoefweg with the same name).
A Quiet Little Village On The River De Rotte As the tension in Europe was rising during 1940, The Netherlands declared themselves neutral, but that too would change. Bleiswijk was a little village surrounded by farms and market gardens. A couple of kilometres outside the village, on the other side of the railway tracks and the newly laid Rijksweg 12, (a motorway opened in September 1937) was another little hamlet of Bleiswijk called the Kruisweg. In 1940, Bleiswijk only had a few streets. Pillars and trees lined both sides of the small Dorpstraat. In the middle of the road were blue cobble stones and long gutters, made from Ijssel stones. The Town Hall stood in the middle of Dorpstraat at number 48. It was a beautiful stately building dating from 1803, with a stylish façade and an impressive double staircase with railings. The main meeting room contained a beautiful large oak table. A little further north at number 84 was the local mill, De Volharding. Designed by architect Bontebal and built in 1910, it was a four-storey building, with a saddleback roof and a large exhaust plant on one side. The canal ran on both sides of the building to allow access from both the front and the back of the mill. A small island called Ammerlanen-eiland, named after the three families who lived on it, was accessible from a small bridge known as the Poppetjesbrug. Number 76 Dorpstraat was the local pub, Café Rust. However, this was not the only one; Bleiswijk had a total of three pubs and one hotel called De Zwaan. The hotel was at the corner of Kerkstraat where the Memorial Square stands today. Even in the hamlet of the Kruisweg there were two pubs, which served the relatively small population of 2500 people. ‘De Halve Maan’ was a pub situated in a field between the neighbouring villages of Zegwaard and Moerkapelle, which was an important route for moving cattle. The cattle could graze whilst the farmer could get a meal and a drink. Another pub, ‘De Bonds Café Sport’, had the attraction of a cable car, where you could cross the pond and see the fish swim beneath you. Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg also had a total of six grocers and three churches to serve the villagers, who were mainly farmers and market
Above photo: As before the war is the Kruisweg today still a small, sweet little hamlet. Photo below: BondscafĂŠ De Sport on the Kruisweg
gardeners. Having a railway near the Kruisweg made it more accessible and it was easy for farmers to export vegetables, cattle and to receive supplies. Due to the railway, farmers were able to expand and grow smaller crops, such as lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes in heated greenhouses. Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg had a hard working community. On Saturday they would scrub their streets and on Sunday go to church, just as they had been doing for many years before. However, elsewhere, the war had begun, and in 1939 the Dutch troops were mobilized and prepared as a precaution. On the 10th of May 1940, the history of The Netherlands, including Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg changed forever.
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Above photo: to the left the old Town Hall, to the right a petrol station. Photo below: CafĂŠ Rust Even on the Dorpstraat, one of the many cafes of Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg.
Anthem Of Bleiswijk Pieter Schuijer was the Headteacher of the local primary school until 1942. Around the time of the Second World War, he wrote a song that became Bleiswijk’s own anthem. There are recordings of the local choir, Zanglust, singing this song in 1947. Where Pieter Schuijer lived is where the Oudheidkundige Vereniging Bleiswijk (OVB) and Bleiswijk Museum are now found. Waar ‘t water van de oude Rotte spelend langs de oevers stoeit; waar in malse, groene weiden krachtig rundvee vrolijk loeit; waar in uitgestrekte velden groen en koren welig groeit: Daar is ons Bleiswijk; hoe klein het ook zij, vroeg was het bekend reeds in de dorpenrij. Bleiswijk met je bruggetjes, met je land en wei, met je groentekassen: U beminnen wij.
Where the water of the Old Rotte Playfully runs along the river banks Where tender green pastures Hold cattle that happily moo away Where in vast fields Of green where grain safely grows There is our Bleiswijk; However small it is Known to other villages As Bleiswijk with all your bridges With your land and meadows, and your greenhouses: We adore you.
Waar over al de rechte vaarten menig brugje draaiend gaat; waar vergrijsd al door de eeuwen statig de oude dorpskerk staat; waar in bloem- en groentekassen des vooruitgangspolsslag slaat: Daar is ons Bleiswijk; hoe klein het ook zij, vroeg was het bekend reeds in de dorpenrij. Bleiswijk met je bruggetjes, met je land en wei, met je groentekassen: U beminnen wij.
Bleiswijk seen from the sky, the vertical road seen is the Dorpstraat (photo taken in 1934)
Kruisweg, also seen are the new motorway, the railway lines and to the river De Rotte (photo taken in 1934).
Above photo: Home of former Headmaster Schuijer, next to the public school. Photo below: the summer house ‘Snippenrust’ – built in the 18th century, on the Dorpstraat (where now the Library and Museum are located).
Above photo: The sawmill the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Volhardingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; on the Dorpstraat. Photo below: Left the home of Doctor Karreman.
Germany Invades The Netherlands On the night of the 9th of May and the early morning of the 10th of May 1940, Germany invaded The Netherlands. Armoured trains and hundreds of Luftwaffe aircrafts crossed the border. At 3:50am on the morning of the 10th of May, Colonel Van Alphen and General Winkelman of Land and Naval Forces told the people of The Netherlands on the radio that, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Germans have crossed into Dutch territory via Kerkrade and Vaals, in the south of Holland in the state of Limburg.â&#x20AC;? From then on everything moved extremely fast. At 6am, the German Envoy handed a statement over to the Dutch government, claiming their takeover of The Netherlands and its military force. The Dutch government rejected the statement and proclaimed war against Germany. France and England offer their help and the Queen Wilhelmina turned to her people with a statement over the radio, which was later printed in all the newspapers: My people, Our country, has remained a neutral one all these months, something we as a country took very seriously. However, last night, while we were sleeping in our beds, the Germans attacked and invaded our country without the slightest warning. This is unacceptable. We are a neutral nation and will remain so, that I promise you. I am sending the German government a flaming protest against this terrible breach of good faith. This degradation of my nation is unacceptable, my Government and I will remain and continue to do our duty to you, my people. Wherever you are and in whatever circumstance you find yourself, take care, be vigilant and God be with you all. On the 10th of May, five JU-52 German planes landed in the Overbuurtsepolder. A short time later, three took off. Coincidentally, a large regiment of Dutch soldiers on bikes from Gouda were passing through Bleiswijk on their way to The Hague to assist the resistance of German airborne landings. Many Bleiswijkers watched with amazement and shock as the German Troops and Dutch soldiers engaged in a bloody gun battle, which lasted late into the evening. During this battle, two Dutch soldiers were killed - Jan Baars (28) from Bunschoten and
Willem Teunissen (19) from Maastricht. There were also dozens of German soldiers taken prisoners. From that day forward, The Netherlands was captured village by village, town by town and finally city by city by the Germans. In those early days, war was being waged and fierce battles were taking place all over the country. Even though the Royal Family had to flee the country for safety, the Dutch did not give their country up without a fight. The Germans decided that the conquest of The Netherlands was taking much too long and in order to break resistance, they sent planes to fly over Rotterdam at about 1pm on the 14th of May. The city was bombed and destroyed. Rotterdam was in flames. The air raid alarm sounded and could be heard for kilometres. Within fifteen short minutes, 24,000 homes were destroyed, between 600 to 900 hundred people were killed and 80,000 people were homeless. The night before the Rotterdam bombings, something strange occurred in Bleiswijk. Around 2pm some cars arrive at the local Post Office on Dorpstraat 59. These cars had Dutch officers in them who use the telephone central and make a large amount of calls. They took refreshments in the Town Hall but they were in a sombre mood. Decades later investigative Journalist, Loek Elfferich, uncovered the reason behind this strange visit to the Post Office. He wrote an article of his findings in the Het Vrije Volk Newspaper and published a book. Elfferich claimed that the officers knew of the bombings their telephone calls from a little Post Office in Bleiswijk were to pull their Dutch troops out of Rotterdam. The title of Elfferichs’ book is ‘The Day Rotterdam Was Betrayed’. Rotterdam was clearly visible in Bleiswijk in the days following the bombings. Bleiswijk had few trees along the River De Rotte and, without any high-rise buildings to block the view, the attack on Rotterdam - the flames and sounds were a clear message to Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg that The Netherlands was now occupied by Germany.
Above photo: Hotel Cafe De Zwaan on the Dorpstraat. Photo below: The Dorpstraat seen from the Hoekeindseweg, right the vicarage of the Hervormde Church.
‘We Were Surrounded By Germans, Our Unwanted Guests’ "My parents had a farm on Hoefweg 33, the farm was called Hoop Vleit De Landman. My father was a farmer, we had about sixty pigs, 10 breeding sows, twenty dairy cows, around twenty young stock and five or six horses. In addition to the livestock, we also grew potatoes, corn, wheat and sprouts. I still remember when the first German aircrafts landed behind our farm; I was eleven years old. One of the planes landed in a ditch behind our farm and I would play in that plane many times in the months to come. The same morning the planes landed, Dutch patrol soldiers cycled through Bleiswijk on their way to The Hague. This was the start of a violent gun battle between hundreds of Dutch and German soldiers which lasted late into the night. During the war, German soldiers frequently stayed around and used our farm. They would regularly use our stables for their own horses sometimes around thirty or forty would be watered and fed using our supplies. Polish soldiers also stayed on our farm; they had between eighty and ninety horses with them. We also had a large shed where they would store various motor vehicles. Later, the Germans came with larger equipment such as tanks, one of which was left in our neighbour’s ditch. Every three months, local farmers had to supply the Germans with 350kg of beef. They would also take our best horses, but these working farm horses had no horseshoes, so the Germans could not ride very far. We often heard air raids and when these took place, everyone would leave the fields and go into the house until it was over. Our neighbour told my father that when he returned to the field, the spade he had been using was full of bullet holes. Life went on as usual, even with our German guests. The District Nurse and the piano teacher all still came and went, and on the whole, the soldiers were not a bad bunch. Many were farmers like us and sometimes in the evening they would drink coffee with my parents. Some even said, “Auf Wiedersehen” when they were sent to the front. I did not often go to the village, but we knew that there were people hiding with the Koenekoop family. My father would go to Mr Koenekoop,
Above photo: The Bicycle Regiment, photo taken during a training exercise in 1939. Photo below: A German soldier poses in front of a home in Bleiswijk.
Above photo: The telephone exchange in the post office of Bleiswijk. Photo below: Horse and car belonging to the Postman Mr Kameraat during the war, photographed in Rotterdam.
the local barber, twice a week for a shave and to catch up with the local gossip. In 1944 we thought the war was over, and there was partying all over Bleiswijk. This was not to be and all celebrations stopped as suddenly as they had begun. Even though I was young, I will never forget the Hongerwinter (The Winter of Hunger). People walked from Rotterdam and beyond to our farm, begging for food, anything - they would eat anything. Many Dutch people died during that winter and the faces of those beggars is something I will never forget. On the 5th of May 1945, the town-crier announced that the war was finally over. For months we decorated our village; every bridge hung with flags. On the 31st of August, we celebrated Liberation Day and Bleiswijk had its first street parade.” Bram van den Berg (1929)
The Battle Above Bleiswijk Strategically, Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg were not interesting locations for the Germans. There were no major government buildings, there was no real resistance, and Rotterdam and The Hague were relatively far away. However, between Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg there was an important railway line. The Germans used the railway to transport V1 and V2 bombs from Germany to The Hague. The Germans air tracking offices were located in Ockenburgh and Duindigt, from where they controlled the air and fired upon opposition aircrafts. In turn, the allied forces tried to stop the trains with German bombs from reaching The Hague. The railway bridge crossing the River De Rotte became a popular target. Between the autumn of 1944 and the Spring 1945, the RAF carried out several bombings and successfully brought down German planes, five of which crashed on Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg soil. In that period, two allied planes also crashed in Bleiswijk - a Wellington aircraft in September 1943 and a Spitfire in November 1943. The Allies also carried out two known bombings on the 3rd of February close to the Kruisweg at the Hoefweg, Overbuurtspolder, and on the
18th of March on the Hoefweg. Karel van Straalen of Bleiswijk witnessed the crash of a Messerschmitt BF 109 G-5 on the 4th of December 1943. In an interview in 2011 with E.W. van den Burg and P. van Daal, he said, “There were a number of American Bombers flying over Bleiswijk in the direction of Germany, I don’t know if you have seen American Bombers? They were very small and really fast and flew in circles above the sky. Suddenly, three German planes started chasing the American bombers, but in no time, all three were hit. One landed somewhere in Bodegraven, one in Bleiswijk and one staggered through the air, burning a trail in the direction of Schiphol Airport. The plane that landed in Bleswijk exploded and landed in a dyke; the flames were put out immediately as it hit the water. The pilot had ejected himself before the crash and landed not far from our farm by parachute. He stayed with my family until his German regiment, who were situated at Schiphol, picked him up. He told me, ‘I thought I was going to land on the roof of your farm!’ That was thankfully not the case!”
‘I Hid Under The Cupboard Of The Bed Closet, Behind The Supply Jars’ Cock de Graaf: “Klaas and I lived our whole lives next door to each other, I was born in 1941 here in the Kruisweg. Even though I was very young during the Second World War, I will never forget the winter of 1944, the ‘Hongerwinter’. All those people from Rotterdam looking for food, waiting at the front door, the back door, their faces tired and hungry; that I will never forget. I remember once a man swallowed a potato without even chewing it.” Klaas van Schie: “I remember a man eating out of the large pan we had outside. It was food for our pigs. He asked my mother if he could eat from it, she of course said yes, and he licked it clean. I was only five years old and will never forget the hunger in the eyes of that poor man.” Cock de Graaf: “During the war, the Kruisweg was not much smaller than it is today, a dozen houses. However, due to the railway line, there were many bombings in and around the area. An uncle of mine lived not far from the railway station and the wall of his house was covered
with bomb shrapnel.” Klaas van Schie: “Once I saw fighter pilots flying right in the direction of our house, I think they were the British Allies. We were still terrified, and thought they would shoot at us. I dived under the cupboard of the bed closet and hid behind some supply jars. Luckily they made a sharp turn and flew in the direction of the railway line. They proceeded to shoot at moving German train wagons.” Cock de Graaf: “There were many man holes along the side of the roads, some even about 40 metres deep. You could jump in them during air raids and play in them when there weren’t. For Klaas and I, the war was an adventure because we were so young. We would play on the newly laid A12 motorway, not many cars were using it.” Klaas van Schie: “We had a radio at home, but I cannot remember it being used during the war. The radio was packed in newspapers and tied with string. One day a woman ran into our house - German soldiers were chasing her. She hid in my parent’s bed closet and luckily neither she nor and the radio were found. My father grew carnations, other flowers and vegetables. During the war my father could not get out of bed as he had sciatica.” Cock de Graaf: “My father was a contractor and made a large wooden windmill, which he placed on top of the barn. The mill had several machines, a grinding stone, circular saws, a tobacco cutter and an oil press.” Klaas van Schie: “I remember Liberation Day as though it was yesterday - the noise, the laughter, the people falling into one another’s arms. Flags hung everywhere, the radio announced the war was over and everyone was partying. Two young German soldiers arrived on a motorbike from Moerkapelle, but they apparently did not know that the war was over. People threw them and their bike in a ditch and later shut them in a shed and called the police. Those soldiers were not much older than kids themselves.” Cock van Schie: “After the war, the Canadians arrived in Bleiswijk - I remember it well. The weather was sunny, and my cousin from Bergschenhoek was also here with us when the Canadians arrived. She was a beautiful girl, they flirted with her but nothing happened, the celebration was great fun.” Klaas van Schie: “There was a big party at Bonds Café Sport. The whole
village was there. My father had painted buckets in orange, red, white and blue, and in these buckets trees were planted and put along road of the Kruisweg, It looked amazing!" Cock de Graaf (1941) and Klaas van Schie (1940)
What The Germans Did Not Know Bleiswijk held many secrets during the war, including hiding people from the Germans. Remarkably, on a barge on the River De Rotte, where the restaurant De Retraiterie now stands, a Jewish family lived safely in hiding for the duration of the war. As previously mentioned, there was also a family hiding with the local barber and tailor, Gerrit Koenekoop, from 1944 until the war ended. You will learn more about the family, Querido, later in this book. Towards the end of the war, the Germans increased their home raids, in search of young men who were avoiding labour duty and Jews that may be in hiding. As a young man in those war years, you needed to be on your guard to avoid being caught by the Germans, taken away from your family and forced to do manual labour. Some were successful in this avoidance, but others were captured. Fortunately, all of these young men returned safely home to Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg after the war. The Catholic Church rectory was often used as a shelter and hiding place for many of Bleiswijk’s young men, with only a wooden floor separating them from German soldiers. Luckily, the heavy German boots made such a lot of noise on the floor that no one could hear the boys, allowing them to be safely hidden for hours until it was safe to come out again. During a home raid on the Hoekeindseweg, a young man hid behind the linen closet. Unfortunately once he thought the coast was clear he tried to escape to the outside toilet where he had a safe hiding place, but the soldiers caught him. He was not even given a chance to say goodbye to his family but was taken away and forced to do hard labour for the rest of the war. He did return safely to Bleiswijk once the war was over. There is another story of a young man who was also taken by the Germans during a home raid. He was lucky enough to be able to return
Above and below: A shot down German aircraft near the A12 motorway (taken 10th May 1940).
Above photo: Wooden wind mill belonging to De Graaf family of the Kruisweg. Photo below: a farm in the hamlet of the Kruisweg.
home for his sisterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wedding. After many months of doing hard labour in Germany, he arrived thin, neglected and hungry, just in time to see his sister walk down the aisle. The best wedding present a sister could have wanted, the return of her long lost brother. The Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten (BS) was established by the Dutch government in London during September 1944. Armed resistance groups operating in the Netherlands were combined to create this single military organization. These groups included the Ordedienst (OD), the National Assault Teams (LKP) and the Resistance Council (RVV). The BS was under the command of Prince Bernhard. In Bleiswijk and Hoefweg, there were about ten residents affiliated with the BS, with Cor Heijstek as leader. They worked closely with the domestic armed forces of Berkel en Rodenrijs in arranging the transportation of weapons that had been dropped by allies into the River De Rotte (they were dropped into the river to prevent boxes containing weapons being damaged). This local resistance also transported weapons and ammunition using a barge that belonged to a local farmer, Mr. Uittenbroek, to Rotterdam and as further to the far west of The Netherlands. Using horse-drawn carriages, they also smuggled weapons and ammunition to Zoetermeer, and from there to The Hague and further afield. In the province of Zeeland, one of the men responsible for illegally distributing the Dutch newspaper, Trouw, had been arrested by the Germans. This man had informed the Germans about distributors of this underground newspaper. This in turn caused a lot of fear and suspicion within the Trouw co-workers and its distributors. Back in Bleiswijk, a meeting was held with the local armed resistance in the home of Riet van de Berg. It was called to discuss the further spreading of illegal leaflets, weapons and the printing of food vouchers. The main topic of conversation was the Trouw. At the meeting there was a man called Eyk Speelman and two representatives of the newspaper, Jan Veldkamp and Bas van Duin. During the meeting it was made clear that Eyk Speelman had given the Germans the names of the illegal distributors. Unfortunately the meeting did not achieve anything as the Germans had already arrested 24 and executed 23 of the illegal distributors of the newspaper and leaflets on the 24th August 1944 in Vught. As well as armed resistance forces, there was also a group of people in
Bleiswijk and Kruisweg who supported their German occupiers. As some members of the group, the Nationaal Socialistische Beweging (NSB), chose to keep their identities a secret, their numbers were unknown. The NSB left a sense of distrust and suspicion within the inhabitants of Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg after the war. Karel van Straalen recalled the power of the NSB in an interview in 2011. "An NSB member, whom I will not name, had seen that I had taken something from a crashed aeroplane. I had put it under my jacket and taken it home. The next day the police came to our house and asked my father what had I taken from the plane. My father told them that they should ask me and not him. I told the officer that I had nothing. I thought that was the end of the matter. That evening around six, when my family and I were at the dinner table, about ten armed German soldiers entered our house. We had people who were hiding on our land; as soon as they must have heard the truck coming they all disappeared. As I was the youngest, I remained seated as did not feel that I had anything to fear. I was wrong. One of the men had a large paper and called out the name, Karel Dietrich Coenraad van Straalen - that was me! I put up my hand and was told to, ‘Mitkommen!’ I had to step into the truck and was taken to the Haagseveer police station in Rotterdam. I was put into a police cell with about 12 people, it was so cramped you could barely move. Some people had been in hiding; one man was an illegal radio transmitter, one a doctor from Dordrecht who had been hiding a Jewish family and Bass Vente, the footballer. Every day, three or four times a day, I would be cross-examined in German, with a Dutch interpreter. I never received any blows but the interrogation was mentally draining, however I always stuck to no. One day I was told to 'Mitkommen!' and I knew that it was over and I could go home. I was brought to my father, and the German officer then told him that he had a good son. After that I have always found early morning the worst time of day. That was when I would hear those German boots coming to the cell I had been in and taking someone out. Often you would not ever see that person again. Thinking about it still makes me shiver, even today.”
Clara Veronica Querido (â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Umpieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;) the little Jewish girl in hiding with her parents by the Koenekoop family in Bleiswijk.
Umpie In Amsterdam in June 1943, a Jewish family named Querido was arrested by the Germans and transported to the Hollandsche Schouwburg. Miraculously they were released after a week; father Joseph, mother Til and their three month old baby daughter Miranda Carla. They knew that they were extremely lucky to not have been sent to Camp Westerbork, a concentration camp, but realised that they would not be so lucky a second time. Joseph Querido met up with his friend, Izak Wertheim, who was a textile merchant. They discussed a client of Wertheim’s, a barber and tailor from Bleiswijk by the name of Gerrit Koenekoop. The two men had talked about the plight of the Jews in Amsterdam, and Koenekoop had said, “If you are in any difficulties, know who your friends are, don’t forget, if I can help in any way, I will.” Soon after, the Querido family and Izak Wertheim travelled separately to Bleiswijk. The Querido family went into hiding at Gerrit Koenekoop’s home, and Izak Wertheim went into hiding at another safe address near Bleiswijk. A deep friendship began to grow between both families and the family Koenekoop treated the baby Miranda Carla as one of their own. For the safety of everyone involved, they named her Umpie. Officially only Mayor Baan and Doctor Karreman knew about Family Querido. They all lived safely and peacefully until October 1944, when the family was betrayed by an unknown source. On a Sunday morning, two SS officers broke into the house and arrested Til Querido. From there, they took her to a holding house in Moerkapelle. Joseph Querido, Umpie, Gerrit Koenekoop, his wife Cathrien and their four children were brought to safety with the help of armed resistance officer Rien Slootmaker. All were forced to hide at various addresses and little Umpie was taken to the Wieriks, a family in Zoetermeer. Eventually, an American pilot, John McCormick, worked with the armed resistance of Zoetermeer to free Til Querido and reunite the entire family. They remained in hiding at the Wierik’s home until the end of the war. At the end of April 1945, the families were once again reunited and the Querido family remained in Bleiswijk for a few years. They eventually moved back to Amsterdam. Joseph Querido received the gift of a sewing
Left to Right: Jan Koenekoop (zoon of Gerrit), Dirk Hoogervorst (employer by Koenekoop family), Gerrit Koenekoop and Joseph Querido.
machine and material from Koenekoop to build up his life again as tailor in Amsterdam after the war. Gerrit and Cathrien Koenekoop received the highest honour, the Yad Vashem award, an award that is a specially minted medal bearing their name, a certificate of honour, and the privilege of their names being added to the Wall of Honour in the Garden of the Righteous, at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Rien Slootmaker of the armed resistance of Bleiswijk, who later married a daughter of Gerrit and Cathrien Koenekoop, also received this honour.
‘Our School Was Taken Over By The Germans’ “In the years during the war, once you were six years and six months old on the 1st of September, you could go to school the following 1st of April. I had a slightly late birthday, and was seven when I started school. I attended the Heilig Hart School for precisely one month before I was no longer able to go because the Germans had taken over the school building. All the chairs and desks were replaced with folding beds for soldiers. I remember once that there were Turkmenistan soldiers staying in the building - they were friendly, cheerful and always singing, dancing and making music with just two pieces of wood. As German soldiers occupied our school, we would often have lessons together - usually about thirty children in a dimly lit stable belonging to farmer Van Den Berg. If the farmer needed to use his stable, then we would not have school that day. Sometimes we were lucky and got schooling at other farms belonging to either the Bos Family on the Trompstraat, or the Wooning Family. When the weather was good, we would sit in the beautiful gardens of the Vicarage. With our blackboard on our lap watching all the different birds. We had school once or twice a week, but often without real teachers. I remember we had a real teacher for a while who used to cycle to us all the way from Rotterdam on her bike. When she had flat tires and could not afford to fix them, a farmer made her tires of wood. After another while we never saw her again. Due to the fact I had so little schooling, I
have always struggled with maths. My father worked at the local sawmill, De Volharding, so he was allowed to have a bicycle and a cart led by two horses. The horses were called Snip and Uiver and were magnificent beasts. They transported wheat and cattle feed, as well a weapons for the local armed resistance. The weapons were hidden in coffins made by a carpenter who lived next door to a farm at the end of the Frederik Hendrikstraat. I would often go with my farther and remember once a coffin containing weapons and ammunition fell out of the cart. My father swore me to secrecy and told me I must never tell anyone what I saw in those wooden cases. My older brother was around 19/20 years old towards the end of the war, and was constantly on alert, worrying about the home raids. He would often hide in the space under the main classroom floor with the sons of the schoolteacher. The noise of the soldiers boots on those floor boards blocked out any sound of those boys hiding beneath them.” Mr. A. Langenberg (1933)
The Mayor Had To Go Into Hiding Jan Baan was born on the 29th of November 1882 in Rijssen, and was appointed mayor of Bleiswijk in 1919. Bleiswijk experienced great growth during Jan Baan’s office as Mayor. There were improvements to drinking water, the local cemetery was extended, there were better schools, better roads and transportation and Bleiswijk opened its first bank. During the war years the Mayor stayed faithful to his people and they gave him their trust in return. The Mayor and the local Doctor, Karreman, were the only two people who officially knew of the Jewish families in hiding in Bleiswijk. On the 29th of October 1944, the Mayor not only lost his wife Anna Catharina ter Harmsel but his safety became increasingly dangerous. He refused German orders to gather residents of Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg to repair the A12 Motorway, damaged by allied bombings. He was forced to go into hiding and the Deputy Mayor, J L A Ammerlaan, replaced him.
On the 24th of January 1945, the High Court of Justice officially fires Mayor Jan Baan, who was still in hiding at the time. (The High Court of Justice was then in German hands). Shortly after the war, Jan Baan returned to Bleiswijk where he married Adriaantje Kok and was reinstated as Mayor until 1948. In the years following the war, Umpie and her family thanked Bleiswijk and the Mayor for their hospitality and presented them with a memorial plaque. Jan Baan also received a Knighthood from the Queen, naming him Ridder in Orde van Oranje-Nassau. Jan Baan died on the 11th of October 1950 at the age of 67, his widow moved later to Amersfoort.
Hunger! During the Second World War, there were many rules and regulations. For the ‘Blackout’, everyone had to cover their windows and doors at night with suitable material such as heavy curtains, cardboard or paint, to prevent the escape of any glimmer of light that might aid enemy aircraft. Out-side lighting was also not allowed; all food was rationed and coal for warming homes was no longer available. In comparison to many other places in The Netherlands, Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg had enough food to feed its people during the war years. Not only was it a farming and market garden community, many people grew fruit and vegetables in their own gardens and would sneak in a pig, fatten it up and slaughter it before the winter. The winter of 1944 and early 1945 was especially cruel. People used anything that they could get their hands on, to burn as fuel as coal was no longer available - railway sleepers, trees or even power poles. Not only were the temperatures unusually low, according to the KNMI in the second half of January also severe frosts every night. This winter, unlike the previous winters during the war, all stocks were exhausted and people were especially downhearted as they had thought a few months previously that the war was over.
The residents of large cities such as Rotterdam were especially hard hit during the winter of 1944. Many of them would walk to Bleiswijk pushing carts, and exchange anything from paintings, linens, shoes and even their wedding rings for food. At the Gereformeerde Church, people received food without having to barter their goods. The Reverend Tiemersma was also known to have started his own soup kitchen for the poor and hungry. The Church also helped its own people in Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg by stocking up the church’s attic full of provisions and supplies in case one of its villagers had to flee or go into hiding. Henk de Bruin, a columnist of the Gereformeerde Church, writes that on two occasions, the Germans became suspicious and searched the rectory and the church. Luckily they never searched the attic. At the end of February 1945, the Red Cross delivered a large shipment of grain, via Sweden, to the Port of Delfzijl, Rotterdam. The grain is distributed to bakers all over The Netherlands, one of them being Baker Ammerlaan of Bleiswijk. The bread made from the grain was quite white, so the name, Swedish White bread was given. In the television programme, ‘Other Times’, broadcast on the 5th May 2009, people of Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg, including Baker Ammerlaan himself, talk about those war years and about the Swedish White bread. The Swedish White bread nourishes but is certainly not enough, so the Board of Trustees and the local armed resistance set up a meeting to negotiate more food for the Dutch people with their German occupiers. It was agreed that food droppings would take place at the end of April 1945, not over Rotterdam, but to the surrounding countryside. As Bleiswijk was not on the map, the nearest dropping fell near the village of Terbregge. During the winter of 1944, not only did the Dutch people suffer but also many German soldiers. On the 21st February 1945, the newspaper, Algemeen Nederlandsch Dagblad, published an article entitled “A German theft in Bleiswijk.” According to the newspaper, a group of German military and civilians arrived at a warehouse in Bleiswijk with a truck and proceeded to steal sixty-six bags of peas.
Bleiswijk Escapes A Massacre Although Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg were not strategically important for the Germans, during the war many soldiers lived or had lodgings there. Any home, church or school with rooms available were forced to give a German soldier a place to stay. In addition to the Germans being unwanted guests in their homes, they also took up shelter in the Catholic school and the public school (De Vluchtheuvel). The gym of the public school was used as a stable for the German horses. At the school the Germans built an observation tower. They also built another observation tower on top of one of the mills along the river, which was manned 24 hours a day, spying and watching over Bleiswijk, making sure no one fled or entered illegally. One positive of the German occupation in Bleiswijk was that the soldiers were not a fanatic bunch and lived peacefully with the villagers. Towards the end of the war, this peaceful coexistence changed and the Germans became more aggressive. They appeared torn - on the one hand they openly mocked their superiors and on the other hand they wanted to honour their Reich. On Tuesday the 5th of September 1944, things went terribly wrong for the Germans - there is news that the war is over. On ‘Mad Tuesday’, the name later given, Bleiswijk was, as were the rest of The Netherlands, in a party mood. The local armed resistance of Bleiswijk were rehearsing a parade at the same time a fanatical branch of Göring’s troops landed at the airfield in Ypenburg. A German officer, who was lodging at the local Doctor Karreman’s home, warned him just in time of the arrival of these fanatical and dreaded soldiers. Doctor Karreman in turn warned the local armed resistance who stopped the parade and festivities and Bleiswijk returned to business as usual. The same afternoon, Göring’s troops arrived on bike but saw nothing suspicious. They stopped at the local Café Rust Even, for a few drinks. Henk de Bruin, a columnist for the Gereformeerde Church, wrote later in the church column, ‘Bleiswijk Escapes a Massacre’.
Above photo: The B-24 Liberator was regularly used during World War 2. Photo below: The home of the Uittenbroek family by the river De Rotte.
‘We Had To Stay Inside When There Were Weapon Droppings’ “I was born at the Lange Vaart in Bleiswijk. When I was a few months old my family moved to a house on the river De Rotte. It was winter and my mother told me that I was wrapped up and pulled along on a sled to our new house near the sawmill, where today the restaurant Retraiterie stands. My father was Arie Uittenbroek, a market gardener - he had a greenhouse where he grew various crops, which he took on his barge to the auction in Rotterdam. In 1940 we heard the German planes flying over and we heard shooting. My mother said, “Now it's really war!” A few days later, Rotterdam was bombed and destroyed. We could see the flames from our home. I was twelve and no longer went to school as the Germans had taken over my school building and the gym was used as a stable for their horses. Sometimes I would come across a German soldier on a horse, I have been afraid of horses ever since. I remember the Germans throwing grenades in the river De Rotte – they took the dead fish and left the blown up pieces behind. Once this almost went wrong. The local armed resistance used my father’s barge to transport weapons to Rotterdam. If there was going to be a weapons dropping, the local armed resistance would come and warn us to stay inside. From our attic window, we could see flares being fired telling the allied planes where to drop the weapons. Once, in 1942 or 1943, an allied plane was late dropping weapons, so the local armed resistance could no longer transport them to safely to Rotterdam on my father’s barge. Therefore my father’s barge had hidden weapons on board the whole day. It was that day the Germans came onto the barge to do some fishing by throwing grenades into the river De Rotte. I did not see this as I had to stay inside the house when the Germans came fishing, but my brother ran to warn and tell our father, who was working on the land, about the Germans on-board the barge throwing grenades into the river. My brother told our father not to come home in case things went wrong, and to be prepared to flee or go into hiding. Thank goodness nothing happened. The Germans left without discovering what was on board the barge. Later, my father told the local armed resistance that they would
The Angelus bell of the Hervormde Church.
not be allowed to use his barge for transportation if his family or he were ever put in danger again. We lived quite far from the centre of Bleiswijk, so I did not really endure many of the hardships other people experienced during the war. Sometimes we heard shots, but they could have been someone hunting ducks. I remember once we heard shots coming from what we thought was on the other side of the river, from the Hunting Lodge in Zevenhuizen. It was only after my father saw a man run around our house and escape onto a boat that we saw the shooting was happening near us. I also remember that there was a young man from Rotterdam hiding in the sawmill as well as a Jewish family from Brabant hiding on a barge near the sawmill. After Liberation Day, they all came to our house to say their goodbyes before returning home”. Mrs. M. van Driel (1929)
Where Is The Church Bell? The Germans needed metal, especially copper, to melt down and make weapons and ammunition. During the war a lot of church bells disappeared. Even in Bleiswijk, the churches were instructed to lower the heavy bells from their towers and hand them over to the Germans. One bell seems to have escaped the war unscathed. It was the smallest bell belonging to the Hervormde Church, named the Angelus Bell. This bell was high in pitch, made of bronze, 45 inches wide and made in 1333, making it Bleiswijk’s oldest and most treasured possession. The Angelus Bell disappeared in 1944, before it was seized by the Germans. Some say that the bell went into hiding, reappearing again after the war ended. When the bell reappeared, there was a small crack in it. It was repaired at the RDM-boatyard, but the bell never sounded the same again. The Angelus Bell was returned to its home in the smallest bell tower of the Hervormde Church, where it still hangs today. The disappearance and reappearance of the Angelus Bell is still today a mystery, the only one who really knows what happened is the
Above photo: Farmers trying to save cattle after the Germans flood the polder (probably in Moerkapelle). Photo below: a bombed greenhouse in Berkel en Rodenrijs.
Angelus Bell itself, and it can’t tell us unfortunately. The inscription on the bell reads, “Audi vide tace si tu vis vivere pace.” which, ironically, translates as, “Hear no evil, See no evil, speak no evil, if you wish to live in peace.”
Bergschenhoek, Berkel en Rodenrijs The neighbouring villages of Bergschenhoek and Berkel en Rodenrijs have their own wartime stories - unfortunately some of them are predictably tragic. One such story is the execution of ten young Dutchmen on the 7th of January 1945, on the Bergweg Zuid road in Bergschenhoek. The Germans shot ten Dutch Prisoners of War, randomly chosen from Rotterdam and The Hague prisons, as an act of vengeance for the death of a German soldier named Franz Schilar. The German soldier had been shot by a man he was trying to apprehend. An eyewitness shouted, “Don’t let the killer escape!” Today there is a monument at the site of the execution with the names of the ten innocent men. In 1944, the Germans decided to flood the polders of Berkel en Rodenrijs, Bergschenhoek, Zevenhuizen and Moerkapelle with water from the river De Rotte. By flooding these polders, a large area of land also became flooded, including meadows and open fields, which made it impossible for allied paratroopers to land. Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg were not flooded due to its roads, train station and farmland, which was growing an important food supply of vegetables for the Germans. The village of Berkel en Rodenrijs will be remembered in history as the village of great resistance against the German occupation. Many of its inhabitants were part of local resistance groups or the local armed resistance forces. Berkel en Rodenrijs was also an ideal location for the allies to drop weapons and explosives, as it was not far from the city of Rotterdam. In the last year of the war alone, there were at least nineteen allied droppings of weapons and explosives (including three in Bleiswijk). One of the leaders of the local resistance tells the Historical Association of Berkel en Rodenrijs, "You would see light shining from
the ground, guiding the allied planes where to drop the weapons. You would then hear the clatter of the falling containers, in which the guns were packed." The weapons included hand grenades, light machine guns, heavy artillery, explosives and Lee-Enfield rifles. After the droppings, the local armed resistance would transport these weapons on carts to the North of Rotterdam. This was extremely dangerous and the chance of being caught was the cause of constant worry. In October 1944, the Germans killed four inhabitants of Berkel en Rodenrijs when their involvement with the transportation of these weapons was discovered. A special unit the ‘Knokploeg’ of the underground resistance of Berkel & Rodenrijs, consisting of around thirty members, not only distributed weapons and ammunition, but did so much more. During the winter of 1944, they took cattle and supplies from farmers, who were planning to sell them illegally. They also broke into and stole supplies from the German ‘Wehrmacht’ of fuel and food. On one of the last days of the war, a drama took place in Berkel en Rodenrijs. On the 5th May 1945, a group of German soldiers drove from Zoetermeer to Berkel en Rodenrijs in an armoured van, for one last act of vengeance against the underground resistance who had caused them so much trouble during the occupation. The chronicler and historian Leo Bolleboom says that this confrontation would lead to the last recorded battle on Dutch soil between the German ‘Wehrmacht’ and the Dutch resistance . As soon as the German soldiers arrived in Berkel en Rodenrijs, shots were fired. Bullets flew through the wooden walls of the flower auction, where members of the local armed resistance were hiding. What the Germans did not know is that the local armed resistance were also prepared for the attack. Jan Roozendaal, the leader of the resistance in Berkel en Rodenrijs, positioned his best shooters in the auction building, and the Germans soon realised they were trapped. In the ensuing battle, all of the German soldiers and three members of the local armed resistance were killed Not much later, German platoons of hundreds of soldiers arrived in Berkel en Rodenrijs from Rotterdam. They threatened to shoot hostages but, after much negotiation, a truce was agreed, marking the beginning of weapons being laid down between the German and Dutch resistance.
‘Nichts gefunden, alles in Ordnung’ The most notable German who stayed in Bleiswijk during the war was Ludwig Schmitt, NCO of the German Army. Schmitt arrived in Bleiswijk in October 1944, with 35 soldiers. They arrived with their guns drawn, expecting to find a hostile and dangerous village. Shortly after their arrival they settled in the public school building and built an observation tower. This tower was manned 24 hours a day, keeping an eye on the comings and goings of Bleiswijk in the directions of Zevenhuizen and Zoetermeer. Schmitt reportedly received a note claiming that the carpenter (betrayed by a German sympathiser) who had built the observation toer was in possession of a radio. This was illegal in occupied Holland. Schmitt took a few soldiers to the house of the carpenter and saw a radio. Hiding it from view of his soldiers he said, "Nichts gefunden, alles in Ordnung. Ab Marsch." and they left peacefully. Schmitt was also good friends with one of the leading Nazis in the Third Reich, Rommel, a field marshal, who was an important player for Germany in North Africa. Rommel was also one of Hitler’s leading strategic analyst for Germany’s Western front. Bram Veerman, the author of the book ‘Between Light and Dark in Holland’s Green Heart’ (stories about the history of Zevenhuizen during World War 2), writes about Ludwig Schmitt. He tells us that Schmitt was aware of the allied weapon droppings - he watched them from the observation tower, but did nothing to stop them. Schmitt was also aware that the butcher was selling meat illegally and that newspapers and leaflets were being illegally printed and pushed through letterboxes. Schmitt said himself, "I had nothing to do with what was going on, we the ‘Wehrmacht’, were not at war with the Dutch resistance - the S.S, the S.D and the Gestapo were the ones at war with them. After curfew, I would watch the distribution of illegal leaflets in Bleiswijk with nightvision goggles. If you ask me, they would have been less noticed if the distribution had taken place during the day.” Residents of Bleiswijk therefore had no bad feelings toward Schmitt, “There were many worse Germans in our history books.” says author Bram Veerman. Schmitt tells us that the time working in the German Army were, "Nine lost years of my life."
Above photo: The crew of the ‘Jolly Duck’ to the far right John McCormick. Photo below: The crashed ‘Jolly Duck’ in the Geerpolder, Zoeterwoude.
Even so in April 1945, Schmitt was responsible for a gunfight near the river De Rotte. It was there that the life of the young American pilot John McCormick was taken. McCormick was in hiding and was a key player in the Dutch resistance. Schmitt says: “Many years after the war, I still thought about that young American pilot who lost his life. He was so young and died for the freedom of others”.
The Fight At The Hunting Lodge The Jachthuis (Hunting Lodge) in Zevenhuizen was an ideal place for people to go into hiding from the Germans as it was a difficult place to reach, especially after the Germans had flooded all of the polders in 1943, making it almost impossible to get to by foot. John McCormick, a young American gunner, used the Hunting Lodge as a hiding place. On the 22nd of January 1945, McCormick was returning with his crew on a B-24 Liberator plane named the ' Jolly Duck ' which had been dropping bombs over the German town of Nordhausen. Whilst flying back to their base in England, they ran out of fuel and had to make an emergency landing at de Geer Polder in Zoeterwoude. All the crew of ‘Jolly Duck’ survived the crash and ran for shelter - McCormick taking refuge in a haystack. A few days later, a couple of men from the local Dutch resistance picked McCormick up from Zoetermeer and took him on a dangerous journey by bike to the Hunting Lodge in Zevenhuizen. On route, they were even stopped by Germans patrols, but luckily are sent on their way without any problem. The allies decided to bomb the crashed ‘Jolly Duck’ in Zoeterwoude to destroy any evidence that might be useful to the Germans. So on the 26th of January 1945, three American Spitfires dropped a rain of bullets on the crashed ‘Jolly Duck’, destroying it. One great tragedy was that the through the shootings, five locals lost their lives, two children who had be playing on the crashed plane and three people from a nearby farm. A few months later, on the 29th of April 1945, two German soldiers
cycled from De Rotte to church in Bleiswijk. On their return journey, they took the ferry and a shot was fired. The bullet went through one of the German soldier’s helmet – it had been fired from the Hunting Lodge. After the war, German soldier Luwdig Schmitt, said, "In February/March 1945 we knew that there were young people in hiding at the Hunting Lodge on De Rotte and they were not there because of the eggs of the Peewit bird. They were of no consequence to the German Wehrmacht and we just waited until it was all over.” Not much later, between twenty and thirty Turkmenistan soldiers (prisoners of the German army forced to either fight for the Germans or die in concentration camps) led by Schmitt arrived at the Hunting Lodge. The soldiers had their weapons at the ready and, "Heraus, sofort!" was called out and someone inside the Hunting Lodge replies, "Ja ich komme gleich.” The door was then locked and someone shouted inside, "Guys, grab your guns, this is bad, it’s the Nazis!" A hand grenade was thrown through a window and detonated, following which there were shots fired from both sides of the lodge. At the time the gun battle was going on, there were sixteen people inside the lodge, including two members of Zoetermeer’s underground resistance. Also inside was the owner of the Hunting Lodge, his wife and children, the crew of a British bomber and the young American pilot John McCormick. They had weapons and ammunition but not enough to fight the German attack. They decided to take their chances and try to escape. McCormick was killed instantly, as well as Jacob van Rij. Van Rij was a member of the military police and resistance fighter. He tried to distract the Germans so that the others could escape, but was shot and drowned in the pond. This tradegy was the beginning of the end of the German occupation in Bleiswijk. A few days later, on the 8th of May 1945, heavily armed Dutch local resistance forces from Moerkapelle demanded that Schmitt and his men surrender. Schmitt replied, “Wenn einer eine Bewegung macht werden viele sterben.” He refused to surrender, saying he would only surrender to the Canadian Army in Rotterdam. This was an understandable choice: - the Canadian army must comply with the laws of war, and Schmitt would therefore be safe and treated fairly. The resistance agreed to his demands and that same day Schmitt gave the key back to the headmaster of the Public School that the Wehrmacht had been staying in. That evening he left with his soldiers, and headed
to Rotterdam. Along the way, people waved and shouted out to the Germans, "You have lost, you have lost!"
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“Freedom!” headlines of the liberation edition of the illegal newspaper Trouw.
The Liberation The spring of 1945 marked the beginning of the end of the war against Nazi-Germany. By the 25th of April 1945, the German army was split in two - the allied forces had taken over power from Russian soldiers at the Elbe. Five days later, Adolf Hitler committed suicide and the Germans started to surrender all over occupied Europe. The first surrender was in Italy and on the 4th of May 1945, they surrendered in Holland, Friesland and parts of Germany. The war was finally over, but it was not until the 20th of May that the Dutch island of Texel was finally freed from German occupation and there was no more fighting in Europe. Queen Wilhelmina spoke to her nation on the radio: "Men and women of The Netherlands, there are no words to express what we all feel in our hearts in this hour of our liberation. We are finally free from our tormentor and The Netherlands is victorious. Our Enemy has been destroyed from East to West, from North to South. Gone are the firing squads, the prisons and torture camps. Gone is the fear and persecution that we have had to endure for five long years; and the famine my people have had to suffer”. On the morning of the 6th of May 1945, the Dutch flag was hung everywhere in Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg once more - the war was finally over!
‘At Last We Could Celebrate!’ "I will never forget the beginning of the war, I was the oldest of six children. We all lived at my Granny Berkels house on Hoekeindseweg, together with my father, mother and my father’s sister. I suffered from bronchitis, so during the day I was carried to shade of the gazebo in the garden. One day my Granny shouted all of a sudden, “Boy, get inside the house!” Planes were flying above and a few soldiers cycled past the house on bicycles. I went to a Vocational Technical School on the Gordelweg in Rotterdam. I cycled there on my bike every day and remember once being asked by a few teachers, whom I knew were members of the Dutch resistance
in Rotterdam, if they could do something to my bike. They knew I lived in Bleiswijk. I told them it was alright as long as I could still use my bike to get home. Apparently there was also an underground resistance movement in Bleiswijk and I later discovered that they had been sending illegal notes, probably for Illegal newspapers, hidden in the handlebars of my bike. The first time I arrived in Bleiswijk, someone approached me with a drink and removed papers from my handlebars. I was surprised and had no idea what was going on. They were rough times. You were extremely limited in your freedom and after eight in the evening, not a speck of light was allowed to come out of your house. Food was on coupons and but there were loads of things you couldn’t get. During the winter of 1944, ‘Hongerwinter’, masses of people from Rotterdam came looking for potatoes, beetroot and anything else they could eat. You had to always be on guard and keep one eye open, never sure of your safety. Towards the end of war, there were young men from Turkmenistan aged between 17 and18 years old staying at the public school. They were a part of the German army, and you didn't really know if you could trust them or not, some of them were fanatics and some weren’t. There was also a man from Bleiswijk who was a member of the SS - he was a vicious little guy who would march in full uniform through the village. We heard later that he was killed at the Battle of Stalingrad. I don’t remember my family suffering any losses during the war. My youngest uncle was sent to Germany to do hard labour but was later able to return to The Netherlands. On his return, he joined the underground resistance movement and travelled throughout Holland with the Canadians. I was at that time too young, but in 1948, at the expense of her Majesty the Queen and military duty, I was sent to fight in Indonesia. There I lost many comrades - sixteen men from my battalion never made it home. In 1944, English fighter pilots caused havoc in Bleiswijk by shooting any car they could from the air. They believed that the possibility that Germans were in them was great; especially on the Hoefweg. They totally destroyed cars they shot. I remember Liberation Day in 1945 so well; our liberators flew large planes and dropped tons of food above at Terbregge. These enormous planes had four engines and two tails. Everyone was so happy! At last we could celebrate!”. Piet Berkel (1928)
Liberation Day 1945 On the 31st of August 1945, Bleiswijk, the Kruisweg and The Netherlands celebrated Liberation Day. This was also Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday. Bleiswijk however also celebrated on 4th, 5th and 6th of September. The first special edition of the ‘Orange Committee Bleiswijk Programme Booklet’ it told of all the special party and events occurring that celebration year. Inside the booklet are names of companies that still exist in Bleiswijk today. You will see Biemond, Fijan, Van der Slik, Koenekoop, Kok, Luiten, Haitsma, Van der Linde, Straver, Ammerlaan, Verbakel, Van Driel, Verhoeff, Van der Sman and Schuddebeurs. There were parades and everyone wore clothing in national colours. There was music on the street, games organized for the children: girls played ball games, had running competitions and musical chairs and boys did wheelbarrow and sack races as well as tug of war, relay races and tightrope walking. For the little ones, there were games such as bite the cake and a magician and puppet show. For the adults, there were also games such as climbing the mast and fancy dress football. For couples married or unmarried there was a wheelbarrow race. All these games and activities took place on the land behind the farm Nut Voor Zorg, belonging to farmer Willem Bos on the Hoefweg, where the Trompstraat now stands. The festivities ended with a huge firework display.
My Netherlands In the first Orange Committee Bleiswijk Programme Booklet of the Liberation Day festivities, there were the lyrics of “My Netherlands”. This song was written by Pieter Louwerse and Richard Hol in around 1870 and praises their beautiful country. The original title was ‘ Waar De Blanke Top Der Duinen' (Where The White Tops Of The Dunes).
Waar de blanke top der duinen Schittert in den zonnegloed, En de Noordzee, vriend’lijk bruisend, Neêrlands smalle kust begroet. Juich ik aan het vlakke strand, (bis) ‘k Heb u lief, mijn Nederland! (bis)
Where the tops of the dunes are Sparkling in the glow of the sun, The North Sea bubbles friendly, Neêrlands small coast greets you. Cheer our beaches flat, I carry you in my heart dear Netherlands!
Waar het lachend groen der heuvels ’t Kleed der stille heide omzoomt, Waar langs rijk beladen velden, Rijn of Maas of Schelde stoomt, Klinkt mijn lied op oude trant: (bis) ‘k Heb u lief, mijn Nederland! (bis)
Where the green hills smile dressed in beautiful heather, Along rich laden meadows, Where the Rijn or Maas or Schelde flows Sounds this song of language old: I carry you in my heart dear Netherlands!
Blijf gezegend, land der Vad’ren, Make u eendracht sterk en groot; Blijve ’t volk de Koninginne Houw en trouw in nood en dood! Doe zoo ieder ’t woord gestand: (bis) ‘k Heb u lief, mijn Nederland! (bis)
Stay blessed in our fatherland, May you grow big and strong; Stay faithful to the Queen Strong in times of fear and death! Stay faithful to every word: I carry you in my heart dear Netherlands!
The decorated home of the Koenekoop family for Liberation festivities.
Decorated bridge on the Lange Vaart.
Above photo: Liberation Day party, probably the first one in 1945. Photo below: The Hoefweg decorated for Liberation Day 1945.
Above photo: A decorated Dorpstraat on the corner of the Kerkstraat. Photo below: The first street parade on the Kruisweg.
Street parade in Bleiswijk on the 31st August 1945.
After The War After the war and The Netherlands was liberated, the reconstruction could begin. This began slowly as The Netherlands was involved in another war in Indonesia. Many young men of Bleiswijk who have just lived through one dark period of history have to leave their homes for military duty overseas. This war was another dark period of Dutch history following the Second World War. In Bleiswijk, there are not many buildings left of those war years 1940 to 1945. Many buildings mentioned in this book have since been demolished, including the Town Hall, which became the police station in 1949 and was demolished in 1968. The sawmill, De Volharding, was demolished in 1974. Some buildings however have survived. The most interesting historically is the home of the Koenekoop family, who lived at Dorpstraat 47. It was in this house that they kept the Jewish Querido family in hiding. The front façade of the house remains the same today as in the war and the ‘Guardian’ face mask on the wall still gently watches over Bleiswijk today. In the old Town Hall, there was a marble plaque given by the Querido family just after the war. It was a thank you to the Koenekoop family and to Bleiswijk for keeping them safe from the Germans. This memorial plaque mysteriously disappeared and reappeared years later. On the 5th of May 1995, Umpie presented the Koenekoop family and Bleiswijk the memorial plaque a second time. The town hall of Bleiswijk has since moved to Bergschenhoek and the memorial plaque is today in the safe hands de Oudheidkundige Vereniging and the Museum Bleiswijk (OVMB founded in 1984 and officially opened 1986). Mrs H H Haitsma-Schuijer, daughter of the late Headmaster Schuijer who wrote the ‘Anthem of Bleiswijk’, opened it. The historical Museum Bleiswijk (part of OVMB) located today on Dorpstraat 5, has an abundance of wartime photos and artefacts including a piece of the crashed German plane, the Messerschmitt. In memory of the two soldiers killed on the 10th May 1940 there was a memorial plaque on the Hoefweg, it was removed in 1950 and hung from 1988 in the Kerkplein. Today, Bleiswijk has its own official Memorial Square located at the corner of Dorpstraat and Kerkstraat. In and around Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg, the Allies dropped many
bombs and many planes crashed. Karel van Straalen said in 2011 about the crashed German plane, Messerschmitt in 1943, "They removed the plane’s tail and covered it with earth. It remained under the ground and conserved for years. After the war, they tried to remove it with a crane belonging to Bert van Mullem from Moerkapelle but it was not high enough to remove the engine. Until this day the Plane remains buried in the dyke." There are probably still explosives from the war that have yet not been discovered in Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg. The last bomb that was successfully removed from the ground was in 2006. It weighed 500 pounds and was discovered during work on the exit of the A12 Motorway. The Defence Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team (EOD) successfully detonated it not far from the Kruisweg.
Street parade in Bleiswijk on the 31st August 1945.
Street parade in Bleiswijk on the 31st August 1945.
Sources and acknowledgements Interviewed Sources • Members of the Board and staff of the Oudheidkundige Vereniging and Museum Bleiswijk • Bram van den Berg • Piet Berkel • Mrs. M. van Driel • Cock de Graaf • Mr. A. Langenberg • Klaas van Schie
Written Sources • Commandant onttrok troepen aan verdediging van Rotterdam, Loek Elfferich (Het Vrije Volk, 3, 7 en 10 mei 1986) • Tussen licht en donker, in Hollands groene hart, A. Veerman, 1987 • Op 5 mei ben ik opnieuw geboren (Een beschrijving van een aantal gebeurtenissen in Berkel en Rodenrijs gedurende de periode 1940 1945), Leo Bolleboom, 1989 • Blesewic nummer 35, maart 1995 (1940 - 1945, Vijftig jaar bevrijding) • De dorpskerk in Bleiswijk (De geschiedenis van een monument), M. Huizer, 2004 • Wij spreken niet eens de taal (Oorlogsherinneringen 1940 - 1945 van inwoners en oud-inwoners van Berkel en Rodenrijs), Leo Bolleboom, 2010
Internet Sources • Andere Tijden, 5 mei 2009 (www.npo.nl) • Archieven.nl (www.archieven.nl) • Familie Van Hoboken (genealogie.vanhoboken.nl) • Familiestichting Van Rij (www.van-rij.nl) • Historische Vereniging Berkel en Rodenrijs (www.histverberkelenrodenrijs.nl) • Edit Colibri (www.editcolibri.nl) • Jolly Duck (www.jollyduck.com) • Gereformeerde Kerk Bleiswijk (www.gereformeerdekerkbleiswijk.nl) • Kenniscentrum Gereformeerde Gezindte (www.digibron.nl)
• Oud Berkel en Rodenrijs (www.oudberkelrodenrijs.nl) • Oudheidkundige Vereniging en Museum Bleiswijk (www.ovmb.nl) • Oud Soetermeer (www.oudsoetermeer.nl) • Probleeminventarisatie Conventionele Explosieven Cyclamenweg Bleiswijk (repository.officiele-overheidspublicaties.nl) • Stichting Oranjecomité Bleiswijk (www.oranjecomite-bleiswijk.nl) • Studiegroep Luchtoorlog 1939 - 1945 (www.studiegroepluchtoorlog.nl) • Trouw 1943 - 1945 (www.illegaletrouw.nl) • Wikipedia (nl.wikipedia.org) • Zuidfrond Holland (www.zuidfront-holland1940.nl)
The Orange Committee Bleiswijk wishes to thank the following companies for their support in the making of this book: • Bakker Ammerlaan • De Haan Automotive • De KaaZaak • De Ronde Tafel Berkel en Rodenrijs RT136 • Dijkshoorn Bleiswijk • Drukkerij Van der Louw • DTP-Hulp • Flowsound • Gerard Storre Woninginrichting • Haitsma Badderie • Haitsma Engraving • Hans van Straalen Tweewielers • Havecon • Houweling en Kars • JDH Promotie en Organisatie • Jofel • Keurslager De With • Lumberg Nederland • Meesters Assurantiën • Mocca • Onderwijs Begeleiding Bleiswijk • Profile Hans Jansen • Rovasta Roestvrijstaal • ThermoKey • Van der Steen Snacks • Van Yperen & Partners • Vollebregt Vorkheftrucks • Voorwinden Groep
‘We Shall Never Forget’ Bleiswijk, 1940-1945 A three month old baby girl from Amsterdam goes into hiding in the home of a family from Bleiswijk. German soldiers keep a watchful eye on the village from a wooden observation tower, their leader a Wehrmacht-noncommissioned officer with two faces. Countless British bombers fly over the Kruisweg. Via the river De Rotte the Dutch resistance smuggle weapons by barge to Rotterdam. During the ‘hongerwinter’ of 1944 many people from the cities come begging for food even potato skins. This book tells stories from World War 2 and the liberation of Bleiswijk and the Kruisweg.