The Doctors resistance

I have written quite extensively about the failure of the Dutch to protect their Jewish neighbours, and even resist the Nazi occupiers in general. However on February 24th 1941, the Dutch communist party had called for a nationwide strike to protest against the treatment of Jews as well as the forced labour in Germany. The Communist Party of the Netherlands, made illegal by the Germans, printed and spread a call to strike throughout Amsterdam the next morning. The first to strike were the city’s tram drivers, followed by other city services as well as companies like De Bijenkorf and schools. Eventually 300,000 people joined in the strike, bringing much of the city to a halt and catching the Germans by surprise.

Though the Germans immediately took measures to suppress the strike, which had grown spontaneously as other workers followed the example of the tram drivers, it still spread to other areas, including Zaanstad, Kennemerland in the west, Bussum, Hilversum and Utrecht in the east and the south. The strike did not last long. By 27 February, much of it had been suppressed by the German police. Although ultimately unsuccessful, it was significant in that it was the first and only direct action against the Nazis’ treatment of Jews in Europe.

In May 1941 it was decided that the Dutch society of Physicians would be equalized to the German regime. This equalization meant that the Dutch Society for the Promotion of Medicine would have work under force, for the Nazi regime. Reluctantly and despite some protestation the society agreed to this. Doctors who were members of the NSB, the Dutch Nazis, would become the board of the society. The members of the society did not agree to this though.

On August 24,1941 at 3 pm In a coffee shop at the train station of Zutphen, Doctors ,Roorda, Brutel de la Rivière and Eeftinck Schattenkerk, and also some other members if the Society met, to set up a resistance group.

The name of this group would be “Medisch Contact” Medical contact. About 5000 of the 6500 Physicians joined the group. Initially the resistance was only aimed against the Society of Physicians

In March 1943 the group informed the German run Chamber of Physicians, that they will remove their signs from the door and will no longer fulfill their duties as Doctors. 42000 Doctors signed the letter. They also took in consideration that their Jewish colleagues could not sign, because they were not even allowed anymore to work as Doctors, most of the Jewish Doctors had already been in transition camps or deported at that stage.

The NSB would paint the word Arts(Dutch for physician or doctor) on the wall or doors of the Doctors of the Medisch contact.

There were also individual acts of resistance from some Doctors. Like Doctor Allard Oosterhuis

Allard Lambertus Oosterhuis (19 July 1902 in Delfzijl – 1 January 1967 in Killiney) was a Dutch resistance hero during World War II.

In 1922, Oosterhuis went to Amsterdam to study medicine and after his study he became a doctor in Delfzijl. Thanks to his work as a cruiser, with his ships Cascade and Libelle, he was able to put up a smuggling route for the resistance between the harbour of Delfzijl and Stockholm. An important colleague of his in the Dutch resistance was the coaster-captain Harry Roossien who made many trips during the war. Due to these activities many people and materials left occupied Netherlands, and radio transmitters, photos from the Dutch Queen and money for the resistance were shipped into the country.

He was the leader of the resistance group ‘t Zwaantje (The Swan) from Delfzijl. The name comes from a pub named De witte Zwaan (The White Swan]) which Oosterhuis regular visited. He used the name Zwaantje as a codename in the illegal documentation he sent to the resistance and the allies.

On 12 July 1943 the German Sicherheitsdienst rolled up the resistance group after they were betrayed. Despite a collective death sentence on 23 June 1944, most of the members survived the war in captivity in German camps. They were liberated in autumn 1945.

After the war, Oosterhuis, due to health reasons, quit his profession as a doctor and became a cruiser with his ship MS Stientje Mensinga, a rebuilt landing vehicle from 1943. The ship sunk during a heavy storm on the Irish coast by Erritshead in 1961.

In 1952, he settled permanently in Ireland and received the Bronze Cross for bravery against the occupier during World War II. He died age 64 in Ireland and was buried in Delfzijl.

sources

https://web.archive.org/web/20070311005856/http://www.oorlogsmonumenten.nl/omn/getuigenverhalen2/5217?nav=detail

https://www.medischcontact.nl/nieuws/laatste-nieuws/artikel/het-medisch-contact-in-verzet.htm

https://www.vpro.nl/speel~POMS_VPRO_380479~artsenverzet-tijdens-de-tweede-wereldoorlog-het-spoor-terug~.html

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