As many of you will know by now I was born and raised in a small mining town in the south east of the Netherlands, the town is called Geleen. But like many other towns in the world Geleen is divided in several neighborhoods, the neighborhood I grew up in, is called Lindenheuvel.
In the 1926 the Dutch government opened a state run coal mine called Maurits adjacent to Lindenheuvel. This created employment for not only the Dutch but also other nationalities, Geleen became an attractive option for immigrants.
Karl Zaicsek,s parents were some of those immigrants.They moved from Hungary to Lindenheuvel in Geleen. It is not known when exactly Karl and his parents to Geleen, all we know is that Karl’s father died on the 9th of February 1939, Karl was only 17 at the time. So I presume it was up to him then to provide for his family. He got a job in the mine.
On May 10th 1940, German troops invaded the Netherlands, and a few days later after the bombing of Rotterdam, the Dutch army capitulated . The Dutch government had already gone in exile in London.
Karl continued working in the mine during the war but he also became a member of the council of resistance, he had the code name Koenen.
His acts of defiance against the German oppressors consisted of distributing illegal literature,ammunition and delivery of food to those who were in hiding.
On September 12th ,1944 Karl and his mate Jan Barning were caught by German soldiers outside the entrance of the SBB-Stikstofbindingsbedrijf(Nitrogen Fixation factory).
They had just come back with supplies,it is thought that Karl had a basket of butter on his bicycle.
The pair however did not want to be escorted to the German HQ and decided to make a run for it.Jan Barning threw his bike at the German soldier who escorted them and then he and Karl made a run for it. Jan was nearly shot in the head but managed to run into a nearby hostel for mine workers.
Unfortunately Karl Zaicsek was not as lucky and was caught again between Sittard and Hoensbroek and was executed on the 12th of September 1944 but other sources say the 16th of September. The sad thing about this Geleen was liberated only a few days later on September 18th.
His family only received confirmation of his death in 1951. On the 20th of July 1951 they held a funeral service for them.
In Lindenheubel a street was named after Karl.
I only found out about Karl a few years ago. I easily could have discovered his story a long time ago if I had only looked at the names on the monument in the center of Lindenheuvel, his name is one of the names of the soldiers and resistance fighters mentioned on the monument. A place I passed by and visited hundreds of times.
Even if I had been a bit more inquisitive about the street name I so often walked on I would have known the story of Karl. Only after I became an immigrant myself I discovered his heroic actions and that of so many other from Geleen.
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