Life and death of Mata Hari

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Despite her exotic name Mata Hari was a Dutch woman. Her real name was Margaretha (Gretha)Zelle and was born in Leeuwarden, in the province of Friesland in the North West of  the Netherlands..

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Today marks the centenary of her execution.

At 18, Zelle answered an advertisement in a Dutch newspaper placed by Dutch Colonial Army Captain Rudolf MacLeod (1 March 1856 – 9 January 1928), who was living in what was then the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and was looking for a wife. Zelle married MacLeod in Amsterdam on 11 July 1895.2164

 

He was the son of Captain John Brienen MacLeod (a descendant of the Gesto branch of the MacLeods of Skye, hence his Scottish name) and Dina Louisa, Baroness Sweerts de Landas. The marriage enabled her to move into the Dutch upper class, and her finances were placed on a sound footing. They moved to Malang on the east side of the island of Java, traveling out on SS Prinses Amalia in May 1897, and had two children, Norman-John MacLeod (30 January 1897 – 27 June 1899) and Louise Jeanne MacLeod (2 May 1898 – 10 August 1919).

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From the start, her marriage was troubled. After the birth of their son, Norman, in 1897, they sailed for the Dutch East Indies, where Gretha would spend four years living in military garrisons. After the birth of their daughter, Non, in 1898, tragedy struck. For reasons that remain a mystery, a nanny poisoned Norman and Non; he died, she barely survived. Although John was able to retire on a military pension in 1900, the couple were unhappy and returned to Holland.

Gretha and John separated in 1902 and she was granted custody. But when he refused to pay the legally agreed allowance, she wrote to his cousin, Edward, who acted as an intermediary. The correspondence reveals her desperation to keep her daughter but, without family connections and with most professions barred to women, she had few choices. She reluctantly returned Non to her father and left for Paris.

Where she reinvented herself as a performer of exotic Asian-inspired dances. She soon began touring all over Europe, telling the story of how she was born in a sacred Indian temple and taught ancient dances by a priestess who gave her the name Mata Hari, meaning “eye of the day” in Malay.

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She acquired her superficial knowledge of Indian and Javanese dances when she lived for several years in Malaysia with her former husband, who was a Scot in the Dutch colonial army. Regardless of her authenticity, she packed dance halls and opera houses from Russia to France, mostly because her show consisted of her slowly stripping nude.

She became a famous courtesan, and with the outbreak of World War I her catalog of lovers began to include high-ranking military officers of various nationalities. In February 1917, French authorities arrested her for espionage and imprisoned her at St. Lazare Prison in Paris. In a military trial conducted in July, she was accused of revealing details of the Allies’ new weapon, the tank, resulting in the deaths of thousands of soldiers. She was convicted and sentenced to death, and on October 15 she refused a blindfold and was shot to death by a firing squad at Vincennes.

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There is some evidence that Mata Hari acted as a German spy, and for a time as a double agent for the French, but the Germans had written her off as an ineffective agent whose pillow talk had produced little intelligence of value. Her military trial was riddled with bias and circumstantial evidence, and it is probable that French authorities trumped her up as “the greatest woman spy of the century” as a distraction for the huge losses the French army was suffering on the western front. Her only real crimes may have been an elaborate stage fallacy and a weakness for men in uniform.

Statue of Mata Hari in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands

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Jan-Peter and Thomas Pfeffer,murdered age 7 and 10.

 

I have been doing blogs on the holocaust now for about 18 months. I did  consider giving it a break for a while, not because I didn’t find the stories important but because at times my emotions were getting the better of me, and they were having an impact.

However I then realised I have to tell these stories because soon enough the last survivor of the Holocaust will have perished and who will tell the stories then?

Additionally I came across accounts of victims ,like the Pfeffer brothers,who have to be remembered because no one belonging to them is able to do it for them because they were killed.

I won’t be saying too much about them because the innocence in their eyes should be a stark reminder on how cruel humanity can be.The only reason they were killed was because they were Jewish, They didn’t commit any crimes. They didn’t even get the choice to play ball outside and accidentally break a neighbors window, or come home covered in mud.

No, they were Jewish and that was enough reason to kill them.

Their father, Heinz, was a German-Jewish refugee who married Henriette De Leeuw, a Dutch-Jewish woman. Frightened by the Nazi dictatorship and the murder of Heinz’s uncle in a concentration camp, they emigrated to the Netherlands when Henriette was nine months pregnant. They settled in Amsterdam

On May 18, 1944, Jan-Peter and Tommy and their parents were  deported to Auschwitz. The boys were  gassed on July 11, 1944. Tommy was 7 years old and Jan-Peter was 10.

And even their death was treated as an administrative exercise.

The District Court of Amsterdam ordered 21 June 1957 the change of date of death for Henriette de Leeuw, Jan Peter Pfeffer and Thomas Pfeffer from “about July 1944” into “7 July 1944”

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1740 Batavia massacre

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In September 1740, as unrest rose among the Chinese population in Batavia(nowadays Jakarta in Indonesia), spurred by government repression and declining sugar prices, Governor-General Adriaan Valckenier declared that any uprising would be met with deadly force.

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On 7 October, hundreds of ethnic Chinese, many of them sugar mill workers, killed 50 Dutch soldiers, leading Dutch troops to confiscate all weapons from the Chinese populace and to place the Chinese under a curfew.

Two days later, rumours of Chinese atrocities led other Batavian ethnic groups to burn Chinese houses along Besar Stream and Dutch soldiers to fire cannon at Chinese homes.

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The violence soon spread throughout Batavia, killing more Chinese. Although Valckenier declared an amnesty on 11 October, gangs of irregulars continued to hunt and kill Chinese until 22 October, when the governor-general called more forcefully for a cessation of hostilities. Outside the city walls, clashes continued between Dutch troops and rioting sugar mill workers. After several weeks of minor skirmishes, Dutch-led troops assaulted Chinese strongholds in sugar mills throughout the area.

Troops under Lieutenant Hermanus van Suchtelen and Captain Jan van Oosten, a survivor from Tanah Abang, took station in the Chinese district: Suchtelen and his men positioned themselves at the poultry market, while van Oosten’s men held a post along the nearby canal.

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 At around 5:00 p.m., the Dutch opened fire on Chinese-occupied houses with cannon, causing them to catch fire.Some Chinese died in the burning houses, while others were shot upon leaving their homes or committed suicide in desperation. Those who reached the canal near the housing district were killed by Dutch troops waiting in small boats,while other troops searched in between the rows of burning houses, killing any survivors they found.

These actions later spread throughout the city. Dutch historian Vermeulen notes that many of the perpetrators were sailors and other “irregular and bad elements” of society.During this period there was heavy looting and seizures of property.

Despite a call for peace and amnesty by the Dutch Governor-General on October 11, the violence continued all the way through October 22, when he finally forced an uneasy peace on the city. The council had posted a reward for anyone rounding up or killing a Chinese person, and the rest of the population enthusiastically pursued the rewards.

About 500 Dutch soldiers had died in the fighting. The areas outside the city were another story, and violence continued for weeks afterwards, never really stopping until a year later when the Java War broke out and lasted for another 2 years. Governor-General Adriaan Valckenier was recalled to the Netherlands and charged with atrocities pertaining to the massacre. At first cleared, Valckenier was on his way back to Batavia when he was again arrested, and spent the rest of his life (10 years!) in prison on Java awaiting conclusion of an investigation into his stewardship of the islands.

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Words can kill

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The German occupier not only imposed its will using soldiers, but also through the Civil Service. A typewriter could be just as deadly as a bullet. Until the end of 1944 this typewriter was used in the Scholtenhuis on the Grote Markt, the main square in Groningen, in the north east of Netherlands.

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In this monumental building countless arrest warrants were set in motion, confessions were noted in detail after brutal interrogations and documents were typed to facilitate the persecution of the Jews.

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The SD used the building as an office and jail. Its eager employees had a reputation for their brutal interrogation methods and the utter randomness with which they operated.

Resistance fighters, as well as many others, were humiliated, beaten and tortured in the Scholtenhuis. The stately building was hated and feared. It was a place best to avoid – the gateway to hell. The situation deteriorated in the last year of the war, becoming more dreadful and violent. Members of the SD who had previously wreaked havoc in the south of the Netherlands joined forces with the staff of the Scholtenhuis. Amsterdam policemen who had already outdone themselves arresting Jews also made their way north. People were shot at random. Murder was the order of the day.

The notorious Scholtenhuis was the northern headquarters of the Sicherheitsdienst, the Nazi Security Service. In official communications between the various divisions of the Civil Service under occupation, the SS-insignia appeared regularly. So of course this typewriter was equipped with a special SS-key (above the #3).

FOute typemachIne

De retour reis die nooit plaatsvond

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‘Westerbork-Auschwitz, Auschwitz-Westerbork’ staat op dit metalen treinbord. De terugreis die wordt vermeld wordt door niemand gemaakt. Op 15 en 16 juli 1942 vertrekken de eerste twee treinen met ruim 2000 joden van doorgangskamp Westerbork naar het vernietigingskamp Auschwitz in Polen.

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De geschiedenis van kamp Westerbork is onlosmakelijk verbonden met het lot dat de Joodse gemeenschap tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog trof. De Jodenvervolging die zich tussen 1940 en 1945 afspeelde, zorgde ervoor dat een gemeenschap die zich sinds honderden jaren in Nederland bevond, grotendeels werd uitgeroeid.

Bijna 107.000 mensen zijn met 97 transporten vanuit kamp Westerbork gedeporteerd.
Op 15 juli 1942 vertrok het eerste transport naar Auschwitz-Birkenau. Vanaf 2 maart 1943 tot 16 november 1943 was er sprake van een wekelijks ritme: iedere dinsdag vertrok een trein met duizend tot soms meer dan drieduizend personen.

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De deportaties werden georganiseerd vanuit Berlijn: datum, bestemming en het aantal te deporteren mensen. De SS-commandant van Westerbork was verantwoordelijk voor het opstellen van de transportlijsten. De uitvoering werd overgelaten aan de Joodse kampleiding. De bestemming was meestal Auschwitz of Sobibor. Enkele keren Bergen-Belsen en Theresienstadt en soms een ander kamp. Het laatste grote transport vertrok met 279 Joden op 13 september 1944 naar Bergen-Belsen. Slechts 5.000 gedeporteerden overleefden de oorlog.

De gevangenen in Westerbork leven tussen hoop en vrees, van transport tot transport. De avond voor het vertrek is ondraaglijk. In de barak wordt dan bekendgemaakt wie moet vertrekken. De volgende dag is er geen ontkomen aan. In iedere smerige wagon van de lange trein worden soms wel 70 mensen met bagage gepropt. De deuren worden aan de buitenkant vergrendeld. ‘Mannen wordt het te machtig, ze slikken de tranen weg. De trein gilt; de giftige slang begint te schuifelen’, schrijft Philip Mechanicus in Westerbork in zijn dagboek.

Vanuit Nederland zijn 107.000 joden en 245 Sinti en Roma grotendeels via Westerbork weggevoerd.

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De Nederlandsche SS- The Dutch SS

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Although the majority of the Dutch citizens hated the German occupiers, there were many who saw an opportunity in the situation they found themselves in.

This is the story of approximately 7000 cowards who found it more favorable to pledge allegiance to an evil regime than to the country they were born in raised in, the Nederlandsche SS(Dutch SS).

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The Nederlandsche SS was formed on September 11, 1940. On November 1, 1942 the name was changed to Germaansche SS in Nederland (Germanic SS in the Netherlands). The Nederlandsche SS in total counted about 7,000 members and was primarily a political formation. In addition it served as a reservoir for the Waffen-SS. They dressed in black uniforms that were based on those of the German SS.

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In a meeting on June 9, 1940 between A.A. Mussert and Gottlob Berger of the German SS-Amt,

Mussert was ordered by Hitler to recruit Dutch men for the Wiking division of the Waffen-SS. The Dutch volunteers would get their own regiment, the Standarte ‘Westland’.

There were four reasons why the formation of extension of Himmler’s SS in the Netherlands was important. First, the SS wished, as a result of Himmler’s desire for expansion, to take an important position in the conquered countries. Second, the SS thought it to be of great importance for the recruitment of volunteers for the Waffen-SS. The Nederlandsche SS could not only serve as a pool of reserves, but also had an important task for creating a foundation from which future recruitment could take place. Third, the Nederlandsche SS served to push Mussert in the desired direction of a Greater Germanic Reich. Finally, the formation of a Nederlandsche SS was of great propaganda value.

At first Mussert refused to cooperate, but he had to make concessions to the German authorities to retain his own position. Despite his failure to cooperate and even advising NSB members not to serve in the SS, the unit was still established. The Germans got fed up with his half-hearted attitude and threatened to advance Meinoud Rost van Tonningen to his position, forcing Mussert to agree with the formation of the Nederlandsche SS, as a variant of the Allgemeine SS.

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On September 11, 1940 the Dutch SS was formed by Mussert, formally as Afdeling XI (Department XI) of the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging (National Socialist Movement, the NSB) making Mussert the theoretical leader of the department. Henk Feldmeijer, a protégé of Meinoud Rost van Tonningen was appointed “Voorman”. In practice, Feldmeijer reported to Rauter and Heinrich Himmler, completely bypassing Mussert and his NSB.feldmeijer

Feldmeijer sought more and more integration with the German Allgemeine SS. A training school was opened for the Dutch SS at the Avegoor estate in Ellecom in the Spring of 1941.

On 1 November 1942 the name was changed to Germaansche SS in Nederland  This change emphasized that it was the Greater German aspect rather than the Dutch – that was of greater importance.

By the end of 1944 the Germaansche SS in Nederland only existed on paper, thanks to the changing tide against the Germans and their supporters as the war drew to a close.

As the Nederlandsche SS was supposed to be an elite corps, not everybody was allowed to become a member. There were selections based on race, attitude to life, personality and physical condition. To become a member, the candidate (SS-maat, a translation of the German SS-Anwärter) had to satisfy the following conditions:

  1. Aryan descent proven to the year 1800 (1750 for the officers). The candidate had to give his word of honour that he knew nothing of any non-Aryan ancestors.
  2. No dishonorable criminal convictions.
  3. At least 1.72 m in height.
  4. Physically healthy, confirmed by medical examination.
  5. Age 18-30. Exceptions were made for those who were true national socialists before May 9, 1940.
  6. Pledge of unconditional loyalty to all superiors.

A thorough series of physical and genealogical examinations and investigations were made on each applicant. Only after these were successfully concluded did the candidate officially become an SS-Man.

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They had a propaganda magazine called “Storm” which had slogans and ‘inspirational’ messages  like “Vreugde in Arbeid” (Joy in work) or “De macht van een gedachte” (The power of a thought)

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About half of the Dutch SS did go on to serve in the Eastern front, for those who survived the east front and those who had remained in the Netherlands were tried  in the Netherlands as war criminals and collaborators. Those who weren’t sentenced to death, were imprisoned in camps.

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By early 1950’s most of the Dutch SS men were released, however they were still hated by the general population. They had also lost their citizenship and were often cast aside by their families. Some of them joined the French and Spanish foreign legions while others tried to regain citizenship by fighting in the Korean war under the UN banner.

I deliberately called them cowards because that is really what they were, It puzzles me how they could volunteer,knowing what happened to their fellow country men,women and children.Some historians say we judge them too harshly, I don’t subscribe to that point of view.

 

 

I betcha you didn’t know they were Dutch

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This is a small deviation from my usual blogs, just a bit fun trivia.

The Netherlands , a small country with a population of 17.1 Million. Famous for its flowers,vegetables,artists and industry.

But I betcha you did not know these were Dutch.

Bobby Farrell

Dancer and singer with the 70s/80s disco band Bomey M.

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Van Halen

The 2 brothers Eddie and Alex van Halen, founders of the Rock band van Halen

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Mata Hari

Famous WWI exotic dancer and Spy. Born Margaretha Geertruida

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DJ Tiësto

Born  Tijs Michiel Verwest a Dutch DJ and record producer.

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Audrey Hepburn

Born in Belgium in 1929. Although her mother was a Dutch Baroness, Hepburn’s childhood fell on hard times in her teen years when the Nazi’s took over Arnhem, NL while she and her mother were there. They ultimately suffered malnutrition, even grinding tulip bulbs as bread flour to survive. At 16, she was a volunteer nurse during the Battle of Arnhem, and worked with the Dutch Underground. After liberation and a few movie roles in Europe, she headed for Hollywood.

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Jane Seymour

Born in England. With a Dutch Mother and Jewish Father, she spent much time growing up in Vught, NL and speaks fluent Dutch. Actress and producer, she is known for the TV series “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”, the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die”, “Wedding Crashers”, several mini-series and TV movies, and has over 220 credits to her work. Seymour has twenty-two award nominations and nine wins, including two Golden Globe awards and an Emmy.

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Sittard & Geleen during WWII

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To most of you the names of these 2 towns will mean virtually nothing but it is where my roots are. I was born and raised in Geleen.

Sittard-Geleen  is a municipality in the southeastern Netherlands. It was formed in 2001 from the former municipalities Sittard, Geleen and Born.

The Netherlands was a neutral country, during WWI this neutrality had not been breached, however on the 10th of May 1940 the Germans breached the Dutch neutrality by invading the country.

Below are some pictures and stories of the period just before the start of WWII,during and after WWII of the Geleen Sittard regions and its surrounding villages.

Church wedding of a dutch Soldier in 1939 at the St Catharina Church,Grevenbicht. His comrades form a guard of honor.

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Dutch soldiers on parade on the Market square in Sittard, shortly before the invasion. Dutch troops had been mobilized for the eventuality the Germans would invade

 

10th of May 1940. German occupying troops are taking a toilet break. On the background the Church of Sittard can be seen.

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German occupying forces on the Market square in Sittard, with the City Hall in the background.

German troops on Steenweg in Sittard  heading for the station

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In April 1941 it becomes compulsary for every Dutch citizen age 15 years and older to carry an ID card, as required by the German occupiers.The ID card would include address and finger prints of the ID holder.

This is the ID card of Anna, Barbara Augenbroe from Geleen.

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The Dutch resistance manufactured many false identification papers to save fellow resistance members or Jewish citizens.The papers below are from Viktor Handgriff, alias A.T.J. Boumans , a Jewish immigrant who lived in de Pesch straat in Geleen at the time.As far I am aware he survived the war and passed away in 1977.

 

 

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Friendly Fire

On October 5 1942 approximately 30 bombers of the RAF carried out a bombing raid between 21:55 and 23:10, killing 83 and severely injuring 22 other. Leaving about 3000 people homeless.

 

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/01/20/forgotten-history/

 

Warren Kappen.

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T/5 Warren R. Kappen, son of Robert E. and Mildred Patanude
Kappen, who was 24 years of age at the time of his death, was born March 28, 1920, at Unionville. He completed his 8th grade education and at the age of 14 went to Detroit to live. He was employed as a welder with Ceco Steel Co. when
he entered the army Nov. 26, 1941. He trained at battle Creek, at Fort Knox, Ky., and in Carolina before going to the African Theatre in 1942. In 1943 he went to England
and as part of the 67th Armored Regiment(Hell on Wheels), 2nd Armored Division went on to the European mainland with the first invasion.He died in Geleen on the 18th of September during the liberation of the town.

Monday Sept 18, the first American tanks drive in to Geleen and are cheered by an ecstatic crowd , Op de Vey.

After the war some of the German prisoners of War and especially the SS troops were made to work in the coal mine Staatsmijn Maurits in Geleen

These pictures are dared October 1948. They show SS officers on the way back from the mine to the POW camp, Graetheide,just outside Geleen.

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https://dirkdeklein.net/2017/06/11/the-heroes-of-geleen-the-fallen/

 

 

 

 

The Fall of Lange Jan

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Lange Jan(Long John) was the name of the 135 meter(442ft) tall chimney of the former coal mine “Oranje Nassau 1” in Heerlen in  the province of Limburg in the south east of the Netherlands.

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It had been erected in 1937/1938 and had been dominating Heerlen’s skyline. To put it in perspective the Big Ben tower in London is 96 meters (314ft)

The “Oranje Nassau I” had stopped production in 1974 therefore the tall chimney did not use any purpose anymore, The decission was therefore made to demolish the “Lange Jan” on the 21st of August, 1976.

However “Lange Jan” was not going away without a fight and plotted revenge by falling in the wrong direction after the explosives had been ignited,bringing down with it several power  cables.

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The people from Limburg are very proud of their traditions therefore to commemorate the event they arranged for a symbolic funeral procession and even printed some prayer cards.

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Dunes of Death

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Waalsdorpervlakte, in the dunes by the Dutch seaside village of Scheveningen, was one of the most notorious spots during the Second World War. On this desolate sand plain more than 250 people were killed by the Germans.

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Most were members of the Dutch Resistance who risked their lives in the struggle against the Nazi occupier. In their last moments they walked across the sand, were bound to wooden poles and waited for the firing squad to line up. The shots that followed put an end to their lives. The first execution carried out here was on 3 March 1941 when the Germans shot Ernst Cahn, who had organized Resistance activities from his ice cream parlour in Amsterdam.

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In 1945, out of respect and appreciation for the fallen, five large memorial crosses were fashioned from the wooden execution poles. These wooden crosses were replaced by bronze copies in 1981.

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