IJje Wijkstra and Durk Tabak, 2 shady characters.

The Netherlands is generally known as a peaceful country with relatively little crime and especially the 2 most Northern provinces Friesland and Groningen, which are both rural areas would not be known for brutal crimes and yet 2 of the most notorious crimes in the country took place there. As far as my memory serves me one of the crimes is the 1st recorded mass murders in the country.


IIje Wijkstra


For all the non Dutch speakers, don’t even attempt to pronounce the name. For all the non Frisians and Groningers, the same applies.

He was born on the 4th of July 1885 in Doezum(Groningen) as the youngest of 7 children, which was actually an average size family in those days.

After primary school IJje started an apprenticeship as a bricklayer, aside from that he would also go poaching with his father. He certainly knew how to handle a gun.

In 1928 he started an affair with Aaltje Wobbes, the wife of his friend Hendrik Wobbes, who was in jail for theft at the time.It is rumored that Aaltje had a great influence on IJje, after they have spent 2 weeks together in Aaltjes house, the pair decided that it was best they move into IJje’s place and leave Aaltje’s 6 children behind.

Because of the abandoning of the children, a judge ordered to apprehend Aaltje en bring her in for questioning.On the 18th of January 1929,two communal policemen (Aldert Meijer and Mient van der Molen) and 2 state policemen (Herman Hoving en Jan Werkman) were sent to arrest her.

IJje was aware of the arrest order and waited for the police to come with his rifle.220px-Saginaw-M1

It was -18 Celcius that day. IJje shot all 4 police officers and got injured himself,albeit just lightly.

After the murders  he burned the house and took Aaltje to his nephew.


IJje tried to escape to the City of Groningen but on his way to the hospital he wass caught.

In April 1929 IJje was convicted to life by a court in Groningen  but after an appeal in Leeuwarden (the capital of Fiesland)  the sentence was reduced to 20 years.

In 1941 he was transferred from the states prison in Leeuwarden to an asylum for the mentally disabled in Eindhoven, why this was, is unclear but the Germans had invaded the Netherlands at that stage and they probably  had a different agenda, IJje died in the asylum in 1941 due to tuberculosis . I suspect the Nazi’s may have conducted some experiments on him.

In 1980 a movie was made of that fateful day in 1929, called “Het teken van het beest” the English title is “the Mark of the beast”


Below a picture of the graves of the 2 states police officers.


Durk Tabak.


As a kid I heard this name and his story being mentioned a lot in my family, probably because there is a possibility I am related to him.

Durk was born on Wednesday 10 December 1902 in Harkema, Achtkarspelen, he was a son of Johannes Johannes Tabak and Antje Minnes Folkerstma.

Durk died on Friday 16 September 1949 in Surhuizum, Achtkarspelen, age 46.

He was a good friend of IJje Wijkstra. This is something I couldn’t understand until recently. Durk was living in Friesland and IJje was a resident of the province of Groningen. Even though the Netherlands is a small country at the start of the 20th century, in a rural area with little to no cars and even less public transport, the distance to me seemed substantial.

Apparently Durk taught IJje to play the accordeon.


However when I looked closer at a map recently , I noticed that Harkema was at the very east of Friesland and Doezum was at the very west of Groningen, in fact the 2 places are so close that the distance can be done by foot.

Anyway  Durk Tabak was a double  murderer and a musician. In 1930, Tabak was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he had stabbed the 29 year Jan van der Meulen to death in a café in Drachten.

Durk Tabak was a draughtsman by trade , but was also a gifted accordeon player..A few years after being released, he shot his mistress Grietje Groenland-Hayema in Augustinusga. After this horrific deed, he committed suicide by shooting himself through the head.

Because he had been an exemplary prisoner he could have been released in 1943 but because of the German occupation and of fear he would be drafted into the German army, Durk opted to remain in  prison.

Durk died on Friday 16 September 1949 in Surhuizum, Achtkarspelen, aged 46. He shot himself after killing his mistress Grietje Groenland-Hayema.

Durk is also one of the main characters in the movies “the Mark of the beast”


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