The heroic village Nieuwlande-the Netherlands

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The population of the isolated village of Nieuwlande  in Drenthe,the Netherlands,increased drastically during the dark days of World War II but the new arrivals rarely were seen in public. Not many people in the Netherlands today know about Drents Jerusalem, Nieuwlande’s nickname. In ancient Jerusalem, a continent away, the village received special acknowledgement in April 1985 as the only community which in its entirety was awarded a honourary Yad Vashem medal for harbouring strangers in its homes.

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A month earlier, a large majority of the villagers had received the Yad Vashem Award individually.

The majority of Nieuwlande’s unregistered people were Jews in hiding who had refused to report to the Nazi’s for deportation to concentration camp Westerbork, less then fifty kilometres to the north. Almost every family in the area around the village had taken in people, some as many as ten.

Resisting the Nazi’s in the former peat bog colony already started shortly after the country was occupied in May 1940. However is was not until local municipal councilor Johannes Post asked Rev. F. Slomp who had served a local church in the 1930s, to come over and speak to the villagers that real resistance began.

That meeting, held at a local church in 1942, was attended by 150 people. Slomp, never one to mince words about the dangers of Nazidom, challenged villagers to do their Christian duty to protect those in harm’s way.

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The village inhabitants resolved that every household would hide one Jewish family or at least one Jew.

Post was one of the first to give Jews a hiding place in his home. Soon he was heavily involved as a regional representative in a group which became known as the National Organization to aid those in hiding (known widely by its Dutch acronym LO). As the number of refugees increased and this type of passive resistance became more widespread, the Germans devised ways to strangle the efforts of their opponents by new and tricky rules for food coupons and rationing, for identity cards and permits. The resistance movement countered these by perfecting counterfeit documents and rubber stamps, to fudge population numbers (at civil registreries) and swapping identities (those of deceased people were swapped with those on the wanted list). One of Nieuwlande’s counterfeit experts was a Jew hiding below a kitchen. Eventually, the resistance movement saw no other option but to raid food rations distribution centres for fresh coupons, rationing documents and the like. The Nieuwlande farmer and municipal politician was elected national leader of the combat units (knokploegen, LKP). An additional activity was springing resistance people from jail. In one such scheme involving a raid on the Amsterdam Prison, Post was betrayed and caught. The Germans did not risk holding their most wanted ‘partizan’ for long, they liquidated him in nearby Overveen. He was shot in the neck the following day, on July 16, 1944. Among those with connections to Nieuwlande who did not see Liberation Day was Post’s brother Marinus, also a resistance leader, who was a farmer near  Kampen. (Another Drenthe village noted for wholesale resistance)

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Life in Nieuwlande itself was fairly safe. The linear community along a canal with numerous smaller drainage branches originally was founded as a peat bog colony but over time had turned to farming and become a homogeneous community. Situated between Hoogeveen and Emmen, Nieuwlande was on the border of several municipalities. A hard-working community, that shared the sense of hospitality and fellowship for which all of Drenthe is well-known.

Another key figure in Nieuwlande’s resistance history was Albert Nijwening, who on his heavy-duty bicycle delivered bread in a wide area which also included Nieuwlande and another strong resistance community Hollandscheveld. Nijwening who by then lived in Hoogeveen was asked by Post if he knew suitable hiding places, at first for men who refused labour conscription in Germany to replace those who were called up for the German army. Soon, Nijwening was also finding homes for a growing number of Jews. Getting people to agree to take in strangers meant they had to come to terms with their fear of getting caught, but once the decision had been made it usually was not difficult to get people to take in additional people. At some addresses as many as ten people were living out of sight. Nijwening’s bread delivery route gave him a very good cover for his resistance work.2017-03-16

In addition to building elaborate hide-outs in homes and barns – double walls, secret entrances, etc. – just in case of unwelcome inspections by Nazi collaborators and Germans, Nieuwlande took quite a few precautions to slow down surprise raids or dragnet campaigns. These would often occur at night, during curfew from dusk to dawn. Many farms  were only accessible via a private bridge across the waterways prompting the families to turn the bridge sideways at night or when danger loomed. Additionally, they removed all the house numbers, creating more confusion to unwelcome strangers. Nieuwlande’s hospitality certainly had its limits.

Remarkably, the village largely was left alone until mid 1944; only a few places had been raided and arrests made. In comparison with other places, where loose talk by otherwise supportive people put collaborators on the trail of resistance groups, Nieuwlanders guarded their secrets well. They were severely put to the test when Nazi-henchmen Pattist and Hoogendam led raids on suspected hiding places over a wide area, causing a reign of terror.

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George Maduro-WWII Hero from Curaçao

George John Lionel Maduro (15 July 1916 – 8 February 1945) was a Dutch law student who served as an officer in the 1940 Battle of the Netherlands and distinguished himself in repelling the German attack on The Hague. He was posthumously awarded the medal of Knight 4th-class of the Military Order of William, the highest and oldest military decoration in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

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The miniature city of Madurodam is named after him, as well as the Maduroplein area in Scheveningen, in The Hague.

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George John Lionel Maduro was born on 15 July 1916 in Willemstad in the Dutch colony Curaçao . He was the only son of Joshua and Rebecca Maduro, a couple of Sephardic Jewish descent.

Maduro was 23 and a law student at Leiden University when Germany invaded The Netherlands on 10 May 1940. By a royal order on 21 November 1939 Maduro had been previously appointed to second-lieutenant-reserve in the Dutch Cavalry.

In the Battle of the Netherlands he was quartered with the Dutch Hussars in The Hague as a reserve officer.

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Under his command German ground troops stationed in Rijswijk were defeated and parachutists were captured.

On 15 May 1940, upon the capitulation of the Dutch military, Maduro was captured by German troops and jailed in the Oranje Hotel in Scheveningen.

When he was released a half year later, the German occupation forces had required that all Jews wear the Star of David.

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Maduro refused to do so and joined the resistance movement. He became active in smuggling Allied pilots into the United Kingdom via Spain. After much success Maduro was eventually captured by Nazi forces and placed in jail again.

After a daring escape he rejoined the Dutch resistance but was ultimately betrayed by a Belgian collaborator and captured again, this time by the German Gestapo, who jailed him first at Saarbrücken, and then transferred him to the Dachau concentration camp. In February 1945, barely three months prior to the liberation of the camp by American troops, Maduro died of typhus. It is presumed that he is buried in the cemetery of the camp.

He is the only Dutch person of Antillian descent to have been awarded the Knight 4th-class of the Military Order of William, which was awarded posthumously.

After World War II, Maduro’s parents donated the initial capital necessary to build Madurodam, a miniature city that opened in 1952 and which they meant to serve as a memorial in George’s honor, their only son. In 1993, a scale model of Maduro’s birthplace in Curaçao was built in the park.

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Operation Silbertanne-The execution of Dutch citizens.

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Operation Silbertanne (silver fir) was the codename of a series of murders taking place between September 1943 and September 1944 during the German occupation of the Netherlands. The assassinations were carried out by a death squad composed of Dutch members of the SS and Dutch veterans of the Eastern Front.

The objective of the operation was revenge and disruption of the Dutch resistance. The murders were usually carried out by members of the Dutch SS. Former SS officer Heinrich Boere was recently sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Achen, after escaping justice for decades in Germany.

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One of the best known victims is Dutch author A.M. de Jong.

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After Adolf Hitler had approved Anton Mussert as “Leider van het Nederlandse Volk” (Leader of the Dutch People) in December 1942, he was allowed to form a national government institute, a Dutch shadow cabinet called “Gemachtigden van den Leider”, which would advise Reichskommissar Arthur Seyss-Inquart from 1 February 1943. The institute would consist of a number of deputies in charge of defined functions or departments within the administration.

On 4 February Retired General and Rijkscommissaris Hendrik Seyffardt, already head of the Dutch SS volunteer group Vrijwilligerslegioen Nederland (Legion of volunteers Nerherlands), was announced through the press as “Deputy for Special Services”. As a result, the Communist resistance group CS-6 under Dr. Gerrit Kastein

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(named after its address,  Corelli Straat 6, in Amsterdam), concluded that the new institute would eventually lead to a National-Socialist government, which would then introduce general conscription to enable the call-up of Dutch nationals to the Eastern Front.However, in reality the Nazis only saw Mussert and the NSB as a useful Dutch tool to enable general co-operation, and furthermore, Seyss-Inquart had assured Mussert after his December 1942 meeting with Hitler that general conscription was not on the agenda. However, CS-6 assessed that Seyffardt was the most important person within the new institute who was eligible for an attack, after the heavily-protected Mussert.

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After approval from the Dutch government in exile in London, on the evening of Friday 5 February 1943, after answering a knock at his front door in Scheveningen, Den Haag Seyffardt was shot twice by student Jan Verleun who had accompanied Dr. Kastein on the mission. A day later Seyffardt succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

A private military ceremony was arranged at the Binnenhof, attended by family and friends and with Mussert in attendance, after which Seyffardt was cremated. On 7 February, CS-6 shot fellow institute member “Gemachtigde voor de Volksvoorlichting” (Attorney for the national relations) H.Reydon and his wife. His wife died on the spot, while Reydon died on 24 August of his injuries. The gun used in this attack had been given to Dr. Kastein by Sicherheitsdienst (SD) agent Anton van der Waals, who after tracking him back through information, arrested him on 19 February.

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Two days later Dr. Kastein committed suicide so as not to give away Dutch Resistance information under torture.

Seyffardt and Reydon’s deaths led to massive Nazi Germany reprisals in the occupied Netherlands, under Operation Silbertanne, supported by various German officers. Silbertanne was intended as reprisal for the attacks made on predominantly Dutch collaborators and German occupational forces by the Dutch resistance.

SS General for the Netherlands Hanns Albin Rauter gave order to retaliate by assassinating civilians presumed to be in some way connected to the resistance or to be orange-minded, meaning Dutch patriots, or anti-German.

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Rauter  had claimed that Heinrich Himmler had given direct orders. However in a letter dating from November 1943, he writes that he “agrees with the operation”.

The murders were top secret, hardly anyone within Nazi circles knew about them. The relatives of the victims were left with a lot of unanswered questions as the perpetrators imitated the resistance, wearing civilian clothing and using British weapons.

The task of perpetrating the killings was first assigned to especially formed death squads, though killings were later carried out exclusively by Sonderkommando Feldmeijer, a special unit consisting of 15 SS-members.

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Rauter immediately ordered the murder of 50 Dutch hostages and a series of raids on Dutch universities.

The first killings took place in autumn 1943 in Meppel and Staphorst, and within a year more than 54 Dutchmen had been murdered or severely wounded. On 1–2 October 1944, in the village of Putten, over 600 men were deported to camps to be killed in retaliation for resistance activity in the Putten raid. Some of the most notorious Dutch war criminals participated in Operation Silbertanne: Heinrich Boere, Maarten Kuiper , Sander Borgers , Klaas Carel Faber, his brother Pieter Johan Faber , Daniel Bernard and Lambertus van Gog

Mussert was fundamentally opposed to Operation Silbertanne, and when in autumn 1944 SS Brigadeführer Karl Eberhard Schöngarth, head of SiPo and SD, was informed of these retaliatory killings he had them terminated in September 1944.

After World War II, some of the members of the death squad and those responsible for giving the orders were put on trial. Henk Feldmeijer, however, had been killed in the war. Maarten Kuiper and Pieter Johan Faber were executed in 1948. Hanns Albin Rauter was sentenced to death and executed in 1949. Others, however, managed to flee the country and went into hiding outside the Netherlands. Sander Borgers died in 1985 at the age of 67 in Haren, Germany. Klaas Carel Faber lived until his death on May 24, 2012 in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt.

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In July 2009 it was reported that the German government wanted to prosecute Faber after all.Daniel Bernhard died in 1962. Lambertus van Gog fled to Spain but was extradited to the Netherlands in 1978. Heinrich Boere, who had been living for decades in Germany, was found fit to stand trial for the murders committed between 1943 and 1944, by the Provincial Court of Appeal in Cologne on 7 July 2009, and subsequently was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in March 2010. Boere died in a prison hospital on December 1, 2013.

Declaration of Aryan descent

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On  6 October 1940 every civil servant working in the Netherlands was given two forms. Form A declared that you were not Jewish, and thus Aryan, and form B – which had to be filled in in duplicate – was a declaration that you were Jewish. You had to sign one of the two forms and return it by 26 October 1940. The result of this move was that the German occupier could now identify all Jewish civil servants. They were soon dismissed from their government jobs.

Anyone with one or more Jewish grandparents (i.e. a grandparent who had been a member of the Jewish community) was considered to be a Jew and had to submit Form B (non-Aryan). Non-Jews submitted Form A (Aryan).

The declaration are sent out by the Dutch Civil Service without objection from the High Counsel, the highest Dutch Law colleger, whose president Lodewijk Ernst Visser is Jewish.

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Visser never hesitated and stated the truth about his Jewish origin, resulting in his immediate temporarily discharge, followed by his final dismissal in March 1941. This declaration was one of the first tentative steps of the German occupier to separate Jewish citizens from the non-Jewish Dutchmen; courageous protests were heard in universities, but regretfully this antidemocratic measure passed practically without a word of protest from Visser’s colleagues on the bench (3), who feared for their jobs, occasioning, and certainly facilitating further anti-Jewish steps of increasing intensity. Visser understood only too well where all this was leading to and he warned where he could – to no avail.

In December 1940 he became chairman of the Joodse Coordinatie Commissie, in which the important Jewish organizations and religious councils were represented. The most important task of the commission was to defend the interests of the Jewish community, without having any contact with the German occupier. Very often however, the commission collided with the Joodse Raad (the Jewish Council), established by German orders. The Joodse Coordinatie Commissie was closed by the Germans in October 1941. Visser clearly saw the dubious role of the Joodse Raad, and warned often of the slippery slope the foremen of this body were walking in their obedience to the German authorities.
Visser also played an important part in the preparation of the illegal newspaper “Het Parool.”

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On 17 February 1942 Visser passed away after a hemorrhage and was buried in Overveen with a Jewish ceremony (his grave can be seen in the Gravestone Archives of Akevoth under code number (198)026. His wife died in Westerbork on 20 March 1944. She was cremated and her ashes were buried next to her husbanD.

One person who did protest against the declaration was Rudolph Pabus Cleveringa.

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A Professor of Commercial Law and Civil Law at Leiden University. Here, on November 26, 1940, he delivered his famous speech in which he protested against the resignation, forced by the German occupation authorities, of his mentor, promotor and colleague Professor Eduard Maurits Meijers, and other Jewish professors.

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That same evening a group of students, led by André Koch of The Hague, made copies of the speech and disseminated them to other universities. Cleveringa was arrested and imprisoned in the summer of 1941 in the prison of Scheveningen, used for members of the Dutch resistance and nicknamed the “Orange Hotel”. The Leiden students decided to strike and then the University was closed. In 1944 Cleveringa was imprisoned in Camp Vught. There he joined the College van Vertrouwensmannen (“College of Trusted Men”) that coordinated the Dutch resistance.