Cycling in WWII-The story of 2 cyclists, one hero, one traitor.

German troops invaded the Netherland in May 1940. The Nazi regime stayed in power in the the Netherlands until May 1945. Although the southern provinces had already been liberated in the autumn of 1944.

Despite the occupation, for many life went ahead as usual, at least to an extend. Sporting events were still allowed by the Nazi occupiers. I have often wondered why that was, but of course sports were ideal for propaganda purposes. It created an illusion to show the citizens that the Nazis weren’t all that bad. Also sports functioned as a distraction.

Cycling has always been popular in the Netherlands. Many Dutch still use the bicycle as their preferred means of transport. But also in a sporting sense it has always been popular and there have been many successful Dutch cyclists throughout the decades.

It is no wonder therefor that the Dutch continued to organizes cycling events like the Cauberg Criterium, which was an annual race in the most south Eastern part of the Netherlands , the province of Limburg, in the town of Valkenburg.

Two cyclists who would have competed in these races were Jan van Hout and Cor Wals.

Jan van Hout was a professional cyclist between 1933 and 1940. He was born in Valkenburg on October 17,1908.

He made quite a good living as a cyclist. With the money he earned as a cyclist he was able to but a pub in Eindhoven. When the Nazis occupied the Netherlands he closed his pub, he did not want to serve any drinks to the Nazis. He was a fervent anti Nazi. After he closed the pub Jan and his wife Anneke decided to join the Dutch resistance. They were involved in providing aid to refugees and people in hiding.

A few months before liberation Jan was arrested during a raid. He was sent to Neuengamme concentration camp where he died on February 22nd 1945.

Cor Wals was a Dutch cyclist, born February 26, 1911 in The Hague.

As early as 1931 Cor got contracts for the six-day races in Chicago and New York and made a name for himself as a six-day driver in the following years. Because of his unparalleled sense of balance, which stopped him from falling of the bike , he was nicknamed “Slingerplant” (Dutch: creeper). He took part in 39 races, of which he won seven, five of them with Jan Pijnenburg . In addition, he was three times Dutch master of the stayers(aka The pacemaker race, an endurance discipline of track cycling)

He was a fan favourite. However on July 21, 1941 during one of those stayers races, he took off his jacket and to the shock of the spectators ,they saw he was wearing a shirt with the SS symbol. He also gave the Hitler salute.

After winning the championship, he was whistled and booed during his lap of honor and cushions were thrown at him. He decided after that not to race again and to focus on a military career with the SS.

Initially he fought at the eastern front but he ended up working as a guard in several concentration camps. There was a rumour that he worked in Neuengamme when Jan van Hout was there, but this has never been verified.

After the war he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but he was released in 1952.

He opened up a clothes shop in Eindhoven . One day Anneke van Hout-Louwers walked into the shop to buy some clothes for her son, Cor chatted with Anneke and cupid struck. The couple got married. Anneke van Hout-Louwers was the widow of Jan van Hout, there was a public outrage about the newly married couple. People were disgusted that Anneke married a traitor. The couple moved to Belgium soon after, they returned to the Netherlands in 1981.

sources

https://www.nu.nl/sport/2415527/sser-won-nk.html

https://amp.de.googl-info.com/5381126/1/jan-van-hout.html

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