The Execution of Louis Dobbelmann

I am often very critical of the Dutch during World War II, but it would be unfair if I wouldn’t highlight the Dutch heroes from time to time.

Louis Romuald Hubert Dobbelmann was born on July 1, 1911 in Rijswijk. He had three older sisters and a younger brother and sister. His father was the director of the Dobbelmann Tobacco and Cigar Factory in Rotterdam.

In 1933, Dobbelmann became a reserve officer in the Cavalry. He then went to America for a year, and acquired knowledge about the tobacco industry. When Louis returned to the Netherlands in 1934, he started working for the family Dobbelmann business. His father had since passed away. At the family business, Louis was skilled in various departments and loved by the staff. The relations with his family members in company management weren’t good. He was supposedly naughty with the girls and kicked out of the company. He then opted for life in the countryside and settled on the estate ‘De Ploeg’ in Wiese.

After the capitulation in 1940, he returned to his estate. The conditions there were very favorable for assisting persecuted Dutch people. Many people in hiding found shelter on his property. In 1943, the Dutch Resistance killed several dozen pro-German Dutch. Rauter, the highest-ranking SS man in the Netherlands, devised a plan to take revenge on the Resistance: Aktion Silbertanne.

In September 1943, Rauter produced an retaliation order: Every attack on a Dutch Nazi is will now demand the death of three Nazi opponents.

The Silbertanne murders intended to achieve three things: revenge, remove unrest among NSB members and ensure that the Resistance stopped carrying out attacks on Nazis. The Assassins, were equipped with retrieved English bullets. It made the murders look like the the work of the Resistance. Rauter needed men to do the dirty work. He found them within the ranks of the Germanic SS, the Dutch division of the SS. They had already volunteered to fight on the Eastern Front, had combat experience, and knew how to shoot people. Together with collaborating police officers, NSB members, and traitors, the Nazis drew up lists with the names of prominent Dutch people who they thought should be executed, people who enjoyed great fame and respect in their communities were known to be anti-Nazi, but not leaders of the Resistance. The deaths of these people, in particular, would make a big impression, as the Nazis expected.

The Assassins, in civilian clothes, were dropped off near the victim’s house in a car of the Sicherheitspolizei with fake Dutch number plates. They would ring the doorbell. When the door opened, the Assassins demanded their name and then them shot dead in their own house.

In October 1943, the liquidation of NSB member and police officer Jannes Doppenberg as retaliation in Apeldoorn. It was the second Silbertanne campaign in the Netherlands,

Louis Dobbelmann was at the top of the Apeldoorn list. Louis was not at home during the first two visits, during which the killers pretended that they wanted to negotiate the purchase of horses. They persisted, and on Saturday, October 16, 1943, a third attempt was made around dinner time. Louis Dobbelmann was at home having dinner with his family when the doorbell rang. When he opened the door, he was shot dead in front of his mother, on the sidewalk in front of his house.

Dobbelmann’s funeral was grand, with more than two thousand people attending the funeral. It took two cars to bring the flowers to the cemetery on Soerenseweg. The tone was anti-Nazi, partly due to the speech of the lawyer and family friend Mees, a well-known industrial in Vaassen. He did not know that he was also on the list. On July 19, 1944, Apeldoorn was at the scene of a second Silbertanne murder. Mees was shot dead in front of his house.


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