BBC at War

In the last few years, the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) has lost some of its credibility, but during World War II, it was a vital source of information for resistance groups in the Netherlands and other occupied countries.

The caption of the picture above said “January 4, 1944. Jammers and betrayal make listening to the B.B.C. not easy. We listen at night, 11:45 p.m., B.B.C.”

An employee of an illegal newspaper listening to the BBC.

The founders of the first illegal newspapers came to their initiative out of indignation about the German invasion and annoyance about what the equalized newspapers wrote. There was also a need to warn the population against National Socialism and to call for united opposition to the German measures. In 1940 there were about 62 underground magazines and within a year this number rose to 120. Some magazines had succeeded in finding printers and were, therefore, able to abandon the time-consuming stencilling. By the end of 1942, the number of papers had dropped to 96 because many editors of smaller papers considered their activities superfluous when bigger and better editions appeared. In 1943, new illegal newspapers sprang up like mushrooms. These were mainly concerned with translating and distributing the war news received via hidden radios. In total, about 1300 different magazines existed during the occupation years, which together had a circulation of millions of copies.

Due to a lack of radio sets and power, the BBC news had to be brought to the people via the underground. This is where the messages came in.

From the beginning of her exile, Queen Wilhelmina took up her task with great willpower. Uncompromising and with unshakable confidence in the Allied victory, she was able to convey this conviction to others. She constantly advocated the interests of the Netherlands to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt. Her attitude and effort commanded the respect of the Allied leaders.

The message of thanks to BBC radio for the so-called ‘Round the World birthday celebration programme’ broadcast in honour of Wilhelmina during the BBC’s European Empire Programs on 30 August 1941. Her inaction against the treatment of the Dutch Jews before, during and after the war has tainted her legacy somewhat.

The original caption reads: ‘Recording of the B.B.C. news, via a DC receiver as Goes was also without power, for the purpose of the illegal press. Goes.’
Two employees of the illegal magazine ‘Vrije Stemmen’ in Goes are working on the BBC’s news reports.

Radio Orange; Mrs A. A. Koch – de Waard.

The original caption of this photo reads: “BBC European Service: Dutch Section.
The Dutch Section’s principal woman announcer.”

One of the ways, in which Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch government maintained ties with the population in the occupied territory was Radio Oranje. The broadcasts were invariably opened with ‘Hier Radio Oranje, the Voice of the Struggling Netherlands’. In addition to news commentary and entertainment, Radio Oranje broadcasts were also used to pass on code messages to the resistance in occupied territory.

Anyone caught listening to the BBC or other anti-Nazi radio stations could face execution.


The Assassination of A.F. Aan

The Dutch resistance was quite small compared to other countries. It developed relatively slowly, but the February strike of 1941 greatly stimulated resistance. Their actions could mainly be characterized as non-violent. However, there were several assassinations.

The approach of the Allies in September 1944, however, prompted the Dutch resistance to expand and intensify its actions. Not only did the number of acts of sabotage increase, but also the assassinations of Germans, traitors and collaborators. On December 29, 1944, police officer A.F. Aan was shot dead in the Ribesstraat, the Hague, on his way home. He was a member of the NSB, the Dutch Nazis.


The Stroomenbergh Family

I am a great believer in balance. It is good to have a balanced view of life. I have written quite a bit on how the Dutch failed their Jewish-fellow citizens, and the Dutch complacency, might be considered a crime.

However, as I mentioned earlier, sometimes you need to take a step back and take a balanced view of events. I don’t know what I would have done during WWII, I hope I would have done the right thing but in all sincerity, I am not sure. That’s why it is important to sometimes focus on those who did not sit idly by but took action, regardless of their safety.

Of the approximately 160,000 Jews who were registered with the general and local governments in the Netherlands at the beginning of 1941, an estimated 30,000 had gone into hiding. The need to secure hiding places was clear for many Jews when the Nazis ordered the deportations of Jews in the summer of 1942. The entire Stroomenbergh family was fiercely committed to saving the People of the Book, even if it meant putting their own lives in danger on a daily basis. In early 1943, five-year-old Arnold Bouwman, his parents, aunt and uncle from Zeist, Utrecht, were looking for a new hiding place. A local underground activist arranged to take the boy to the Stroomenberghs in Driebergen, Utrecht, where he stayed until May 1945.

Jan and Johanna Stroomenbergh had two adult children named Jan and Johanna [aka Susan, later Halpern]. They were devout Protestants, and Jan Sr. was caretaker of the local strictly Calvinist Gereformeerde church. Despite the enormous age difference, the Stroomenberghs took in young Arnold and treated him like a member of the family. Only the immediate family and the local minister knew the real identity of the boy. To everyone else, he was a nephew evacuated from The Hague. Whenever there was a warning of an impending search, daughter Johanna, would take Arnold on the back of her bicycle to friends until the danger passed. The Stroomenbergh house was a centre of Resistance activity. Johanna Jr. was a courier for the underground, delivering messages and food coupons, and accompanying Jews to hiding places. On 23 January 1945, Jan Jr., dressed in a Nazi uniform, took part in a successful raid on a police station in Zeist, freeing about 12 prisoners, most of them Jewish.

The Stroomenbergh family sheltered one of the prisoners, Ernest Stein, until liberation. The family also hid Abraham Wijnschenk and his wife, Judith, for three months, in their home. During the Hunger Winter of 1944-1945, the Stroomenbergh family managed to feed their family and all the Jews they were hiding in their home and those hiding in other places for whom they provided food. As Arnold wrote in his testimony to Yad Vashem, “All members of the Stroomenbergh family took part in keeping me out of German hands. They took enormous risks on behalf of me and many other Jewish people. Jan Stroomenbergh, Sr. and his wife took care of me and my education during the war. They treated me like their own son. After the war, they understood immediately the importance, of a Jewish child being raised by young Jewish relatives. My parents were betrayed and died in Auschwitz…I stayed in the Stroomenbergh home…this meant that all of the members of the church were aware of my presence and also of the presence of Mr and Mrs Wijnschenk. Every member of this congregation was 100 per cent reliable, and no one put us in danger.”

One day, a young Jewish man named Berthold aka Burt Halpern came to ask the Stroomenberghs for help. He needed a new safe place to live. He was born in Germany, on 6 July 1926 to Rabbi Felix Halpern and Hanna Gostinsky Halpern. Burt was placed with a Christian foster family who attended the same church as the Stroomenbergh family

Susan Stoomenbergh recalled: “The first time I saw him, the very first time, he came from my parents’ house. And I looked at that guy. And I said, hello. He walked over and said, hello, you’re Frau Susan. He called me Miss Susan. And I looked at him. I said, boy, that’s my guy. I go after him. and I made sure I saw him all the time. They took him to church every Sunday, twice. And Burt liked it. He was reading the Bible. He learned about Jesus. And that’s the way Burt became a Christian.”

The two fell in love and it led to a 71-year-long love affair and they truly were forever soulmates. Though the ravages of war took so much of their lives, together they managed to find that forever love and strong determined faith, that bonded them and carried them through anything!
Burt and Susan immigrated to America in 1954. As a skilled tailor, Burt became the Head Fitter at the prestigious Barney’s New York and became one of the most sought-after tailoring fitters of his craft. Susan created a loving home for Burt and their children. Susan was gifted with a beautiful soprano voice and performed many choral selections in their church. She directed Sunday School programs. Both Burt and Susan were always involved in local church missions.

In 1997, Susan was proud to accept a most prestigious Award. The Commission for the Designation of the Righteous, established by Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Heroes & Martyrs Remembrance Authority, based on the evidence presented before it, had decided to Honour, The Stroomenbergh Family, who during the Holocaust period in Europe, risked their lives to save persecuted Jews. The Commission, therefore, has accorded them the Medal of the Righteous Among the Nations. Their Family Name shall be forever engraved on the Honour Wall in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

Burt Halpern, 93 of White Township, NJ, passed into the arms of his Lord and Savior on February 9, 2020, at Barn Hill Care Center in Newton, NJ.

Susanna Stroomenbergh Halpern died on her 99th birthday, April 7, 2022, at Hackettstown Medical Center, Hackettstown, NJ, after surviving WWII, COVID-19, and a broken leg.


Escape to Victory

I wasn’t sure what to call this post. I had considered the title “Mission Impossible” but I did go with “Escape to Victory.”

On 8 December 1944, the KP (Knok Ploeg-boxing crew) resistance group in Friesland managed to liberate 51 members of the resistance from the Blokhuispoort, the detention centre in Leeuwarden, without any escalation or any shots. The event is also known as ‘de Kraak’.(the raid The BS in Friesland had already indicated that a plan had to be made for a robbery, but there had not yet been any reason to carry it out. Piet Oberman took the lead here. The plan was well prepared with the help of intelligence from guards about the prison and information about the (reliability of) the guards themselves.

The plan was drawn up by Piet Oberman (resistance name Piet Kramer), Willem Stegenga and Egbert Bultsma. It had to be carried out in such a way that the Germans and their accomplices would not notice. The head office of the Landwacht (a Dutch Nazi paramilitary organization) was a stone’s throw away. The headquarters of the SD was quite a distance away and the Wehrmacht was stationed at Leeuwarden airfield. That is why there were no shots should be fired.

The immediate reason for the operation was the arrest of several resistance fighters in November 1944. One of them was Klaas Leijenaar, who was closely involved in the resistance newspaper De Koerier and had a large network. It was precise because of that network that the resistance fighter was interesting to the Germans. If they got Leijenaar to talk, a large part of the Frisian resistance could be rounded up.

On the nights of 18-19 November 1944, Jurjen Dreeuws, a police inspector who played a major role in the Frisian resistance, was also arrested. It was clear to the Knokploeg (KP), the armed branch of the resistance, that something had to be done. It was known that the arrested resistance members would be tortured in the Blokhuispoort. It soon became apparent that Dreeuws had gone crazy during his first weekend in captivity and had called names. This in turn led to new arrests. The chance that more resistance members would ‘break ‘ under great pressure, which would put the occupier on the trail of other resistance members, was by no means inconceivable.

On December 8, 1944, at a quarter to six, two policemen with three prisoners and a warrant for confinement presented themselves at the prison. The guard of the House of Detention received a phone call shortly before that three black marketeers would be delivered. The policemen and the three prisoners were in reality members of the Frisian gang. Inside the gate, they overpowered the guards and let in other members of the gang. During the raid, 51 people, including many members of the resistance, were freed from their cells. Not a single shot was fired.

Remarkably the Germans were not able to find any of the escaped prisoners. Raids are held, but due to a well-organized network of resistance fighters, the liberated prisoners were never found. There were no reprisals either. Why that did not happen is unclear.

In 1962 the story was made into a movie, titled “De Overval” (the raid) which became one of the most successful movies in Dutch cinemas, with close to 1.5 million visitors.

Dutch actor Hans Culeman who played the German officer Grundmann in the movie was born in Germany and spoke fluent German. He was surprised by this movie. Till then nobody knew of his German descent. Both Hans Tiemeijer ( the doctor) and Rob de Vries (Piet Kramer) had been in the resistance in the Netherlands during World War II.

Although my Mother’s family is from Friesland, I actually was not aware of this story.


The Re-Burial of Hannie Schaft

There were very few Dutch who defied the Nazi occupiers, this is not to judge, because I was never put in that situation and I just wouldn’t know what I would have done. But it is a fact that there were only a few who offered resistance.

Hannie Schaft was one of those few. Born Jannetje Johanna (Jo) Schaft on 16 September 1920. She became known as “the girl with the red hair” (Dutch: het meisje met het rode haar). Her secret name in the resistance movement was “Hannie.”

On 1 March 1945, NSB police officer Willem Zirkzee was executed by Hannie Schaft and her friend Truus Oversteegen, in Haarlem. On 15 March they wounded Ko Langendijk, a hairdresser from IJmuiden who worked for the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), a Nazi intelligence agency.

Hannie was eventually arrested at a military checkpoint in Haarlem on 21 March 1945 while distributing the illegal communist newspaper de Waarheid (literally ‘The Truth’), which was a cover story. She was transporting secret documentation for the Resistance. She worked closely with Anna A.C. Wijnhoff. She was brought to a prison in Amsterdam. After much interrogation, torture, and solitary confinement, Schaft was identified by her former colleague Anna Wijnhoff, by the roots of her red hair.

She was executed by Dutch Nazi officials on 17 April 1945. Although there had been an agreement between the occupier and the Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten (‘Dutch resistance’) to stop executions, she was shot dead three weeks before the end of the war in the dunes of Overveen, near Bloemendaal. Two men, Mattheus Schmitz and Maarten Kuiper, a Dutch policeman, took her to the execution site. Schmitz shot her in the head at close range. However, the bullet only grazed Schaft. She is said to have allegedly told her executioners: Ik schiet beter! (“I shoot better!) after which Kuiper delivered a final shot to her head. Kuiper was sentenced to death after the war.

Hannie was buried in a shallow grave in the dunes. On 27 November 1945, Schaft was reburied in a state funeral at the Dutch Honorary Cemetery Bloemendaal. Members of the Dutch government and royal family attended, including Queen Wilhelmina who called Schaft “the symbol of the Resistance.”


Hiding in a Zoo

I had heard the story of the ‘Zookeeper’s wife’ about the lady who saved hundreds of Polish Jews by hiding them in in the Warsaw Zoo.

However I had not been aware that Artis Zoo in Amsterdam also had hidden Dutch Jews and resistance fighters. ARTIS was founded under the name Natura Artis Magistra by Westerman, Werlemann and Wijsmuller in 1838, with the objective of “Promoting the knowledge of Natural History”.

The initial collection was not particularly spectacular – a few parrots, monkeys and a wildcat from Suriname – but a year later ARTIS was able to adopt C. van Aken’s entire ‘travelling menagerie’. A parade of animals, headed by the big elephant Jack, accompanied by numerous other animals including lions, a panther, a tiger, a puma, hyenas, polar bears, brown bears, a zebra, a gnu, a kangaroo and even a boa constrictor more than five metres long. ARTIS had suddenly become a real zoo.

Because ARTIS was located in the Portuguese part of the Jewish quarter, Sephardic artists were a regular here. Among them were Henri Teixeira de Mattos, an internationally renowned animal sculptor, his two cousins Joseph Teixeira de Mattos and Joseph Mendes da Costa, the painter-illustrator David Bueno de Mesquita, the renowned Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita, whose oeuvre consists of graphic representations of animals, and the Ashkenazi painter Martin Monnickendam.

In 1938 a large charity event was held for the benefit of the Jewish refugees, at the zoo.

Emanuel Boekman was o Jewish member of the board of ARTIS. On May 14,1940 the Dutch Army capitulated, A day later on May 15, Emanuel Boekman and his wife both committed suicide

During the Second World War, ARTIS was one of the few places in Amsterdam where people could still relax. The zoo remained open throughout the war and many Germans regularly visited the zoo to spend an afternoon there.

During the war years, between two and three hundred people found safe shelter in the garden – hidden in numerous animal shelters, in haylofts and in the cavernous monkey rock and goat rock; especially Jewish residents, young men trying to escape forced labor in Germany and people from the resistance.

No one knew exactly how many people there were. It was also not discussed for safety reasons.

For example, they were hidden in the Monkey Rock, the Buck Rock and in the attic of the Predator Gallery. During raids in the Jewish quarter, people fled to Artis, where they reported to the sitter Van Schalkwijk. He laid a plank over the moat around Monkey Rock so that the people could hide in it. Because of the water around the rock, the Germans had no idea that people were hiding in it.

That the permanent and temporary residents of Artis did succumb to hunger is due to the director Armand Sunier. Before the war, he had already stocked up on large quantities of fuel, hay, seeds and meat as a precautionary measure. In addition, Dr. Sunier had managed to get a large allocation (the Nazis loved animals more then some people) ,with great persuasion, from the Nazis for the necessary quantities of hay and straw, and a reasonable assortment of fish, meat, vegetables, fruit and seeds. For example, in the first years of the war in Artis no animals and people had to go hungry.There were even cigarettes; above the lions were in fact 2 sons of tobacconist Swaan in hiding.

The resistance fighter Henk Blonk went into hiding in the zoo in 1942 because he was wanted by the German police.

He spent several weeks in the wolf enclosure because he made or repaired weapons for the resistance. It got a little too hot under his feet when he narrowly escaped during a raid by the Grüne Polizei, He recalled:

‘Go into the chimpanzee’s cage tonight’. So I slept in the chimpanzee’s cage. It was bursting with cockroaches. They walked all over me and even ate part of my eyebrow.

In the cage next door was the gorilla Japie. Jiminy (a chimp) was watching me through a hole in the wall the whole time. You thought you were pretty safe, but that monkey actually told everything.”

During the day Blonk, like all other Artis people in hiding, simply mixed with the public. There was a strange atmosphere in the garden.

A Jewish person in hiding who spent some time in the birdhouse’s kitchen said in 2008 that he had certainly had a pleasant time – despite the austere menu of carrots, onions, leftovers of homemade bread and syrup from sugar beets cooked on the stove. Another survivor later recalled the nighttime walks by a “beautiful, bright moon.”

Minder Van Schalkwijk – 52 years employed by Artis – managed the monkey house and the monkey rock during the war. He was the one who let in the Jews looking for a hiding place:

“During a raid, the boys came through the Plantage Doklaan and then I let them through the back door into the monkey house. We then went straight to the monkey rock where I put a plank over the water. They would sit in the rock with the monkeys. Because of the water around the rock, the Germans didn’t mind that there were Jews. The soldiers also entered the garden themselves during a raid, but we were warned from the office that they were at the entrance, so that we could take our measures.”

It is amazing that no one was betrayed to the Nazis, given the fact that some Artis employees were Nazi sympathizers One employee of the planting department enlisted in the Waffen SS and traveled to the Eastern Front. Before his departure, he had added to his colleagues: “I am not betraying you!”


Hoe werden de Artisdieren in oorlogstijd gevoerd?


I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.


The Girl with the Red Hair

The below story was brought to my attention by a friend, he also published it in a local Athens-Alabama newspaper.


Equal justice under the law

Some may believe an event both a continent and 76 years away of little interest to our Athens- Limestone County. Let this flight of recollection help. We just commemorated the liberation of the Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp in January 1945. We recall with dread the Holocaust. When the gates finally opened at the death camp, only a few were left in that place of evil. What remained of the millions of Jews, resisters against Nazi power and social outcasts condemned to that place were starving, barely recognizable human beings. Yet, they were human. As one philosopher from the late 1600s said, all wars are civil wars, for we are all part of the human family. To recall what drove so many to fight the white racist Nazi regime, I read “Seducing and Killing Nazis,” by Sophie Poldermans, a Dutch author whose country fell and then suffered dramatically under the Nazi whip. Poldermans points out, however, that after her country was occupied, the Nazis tried to divide her people against one another. She illustrates how this happened by telling a story of three young resisters who secretly opposed this false god of racial superiority.

These young women learned while growing up at home never to prejudge others. Because, as their parents counselled, “All humanity is equal.” Such simple life guidance was catastrophically upended when violent, white supremacist Nazi Germany overran the Netherlands. By then only teenagers, the young women were old enough to know something was dreadfully wrong. Sophie Poldermans, an insightful Dutch author who personally knew two of the heroic resistance fighters remembered here, tells their story with heart-rending passion. She reveals the fear, Nazi brutality and unique horrors of that age. She does, however, show how the brave actions of the Dutch resistance helped raise a jaded world back to simple humanity.

Subtitled “Hannie, Truus and Freddie: Dutch Resistance Heroines of World War II,” this book is simply terrifying. Though only teenagers, we learn how they were subtly drawn into secret resistance against the invaders. Poldermans reveals a horrific, clandestine measure to assure their reliability. Indeed their test will remain with you forever. We follow Jo “Hannie” Schaft, whose tomboy elemental understanding of right and wrong allowed her to courageously, indeed often recklessly, fight back against the conquerors. Truus and “Freddie” Oversteegen displayed leadership and wise caution, each bringing her skills to great use in the underground defence of their country against the Gestapo and Dutch traitors.

Nazi Germans implemented laws based on racial hatred and political suppression. They enforced racial discrimination against Jews and outlawed political parties. Opponents were sent to concentration and death camps. How three young girls, for none was older than 19 at the time, fought back against such “discrimination and inequality” is brought to life in this utterly spellbinding tale of assassinations, train sabotage, conspiracy and intrigue.

Indeed, seducing and killing Nazis by Dutch teens is what they did. One is fascinated by how their missions were planned, organized and executed. The remarkable details of underground life, of forgeries, gathering stolen documents, explosives, food and other essentials would be story enough. But no, assassinations were also carried out by girls pretending to charm Nazis. The horror of taking a life, and the limits to any reprisal, even against Nazis, are memorably told. Indeed these are tales you’ll want to discuss. Available in all American outlets, this story of three women who sacrificed their innocence to restore goodness will first shock, and then bring you to tears. What a magnificent testimony to such true heroines who fought as underground soldiers against real tyranny. Through their heroism, they helped restore a world open to dignity and equality before the law.

We who live in our little Alabama county have enshrined our national belief that “all men are created equal.” We created a system of liberal democratic institutions, peacefully transferred, that protect the rights of all. We need to remember this is a system which deserves our constant vigilance and protection. Ours is a nation of laws, before which everyone must be treated the same. Poldermans has done well in reminding us there are those who would destroy such an open, equal and free society, that we must defend it with all our ability.

— John William Davis is a retired U.S. Army counterintelligence officer, civil servant and linguist. He was commissioned by Washington University in St. Louis in 1975. He entered counterintelligence and served some 37 years. A linguist, Davis learned foreign languages in each country in which he served. His published works include “Rainy Street Stories: Reflections on Secret Wars, Terrorism and Espionage” and “Around the Corner: Reflections on American Wars, Violence, Terrorism and Hope.”

picture courtesy of

The Execution of Three Heroines

Nel Hissink aka Cornelia van den Brink-Kossen

On October 27, 1943, two Dutch resistance women—Nel Hissink, and Truus van Lier were executed in Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg, Reina Geerlings, was executed less than a month later, on November 24, 1943. All three women were shot. This was done in secret as it was not customary to shoot women.

Cornelia (Nel) Hissink (Amsterdam, June 13, 1897 – Oranienburg (Germany), November 24, 1943) was a resistance member during the German occupation of the Netherlands. She was active for the Personal Identification Central (PBC), which provided people in hiding and resistance members with forged documents, and the resistance group CS6, an organization for the armed resistance. In the summer of 1943 she was arrested and interned in prisons Weteringsschans and Kamp Amersfoort she was executed on October 27, 1943, in Kamp Sachsenhausen.

Nel van den Brink-Kossen was a communist. She distributed communist pamphlets, regularly took part in left-wing demonstrations, and was active in the anti-fascist movement. Her husband left for the Dutch East Indies in August 1929 and in 1935 the divorce was officially pronounced in Jakarta. Not long after, Nel Kossen got into a relationship with the extravagant actor and writer Coen Hissink. She probably moved in with him with her two daughters, first in his house in Bussum and later in a nice big house in Blaricum. Although she was not married to him, from then on she called herself Nel Hissink.

Nel and Coen Hissink became involved in the resistance soon after the war broke out. As an artist, Coen Hissink refused to register with the Kultuurkamer. (Culture Chamber) He was arrested in 1941 and deported to the Neuengamme concentration camp, where he died on December 17, 1942. His house was confiscated and Nel Hissink went to live with her daughter Marianne Helen in a garden shed in Blaricum. Shortly afterward she moved to Amsterdam, where the half-Jewish Rose Lopes de Leão Laguna moved in with her. Nel Hissink then got into a relationship with Dio Remiëns, who was more than twenty years younger, at a riding school in Laren. With Gerrit van der Veen and Maarten van Gilse, among others, she worked on the illegal magazine De Vrije Sterren, a ‘religious and politically independent body for Dutch artists’. They also made false identity cards for artist friends who wanted to circumvent the compulsory registration at the Kultuurkamer.

Nel Hissink was also involved in the illegal organization CS6, which offered armed resistance to the German occupier. Her daughter Marianne, who now called herself Keesje Hissink and with her narrow face resembled her mother, was also active in this. Hissink and the other members of this resistance group also offered help to people in hiding and carried out attacks.

Truus van Lier

Geertruida (Truus) van Lier was a Dutch resistance fighter during World War II.

Around the start of the Second World War, Van Lier started studying law at Utrecht University. Shortly afterward she became a member of the Amsterdam student resistance group CS-6. On September 3, 1943, Van Lier shot the Utrecht NSB chief of police G.J. Guys dead. Reichskommissar Seyss-Inquart, the Utrecht mayor Van Ravenswaay and NSB leader Anton Mussert held a meeting the next day in which it was suggested that, among other things, ten Utrecht residents should be executed as a reprisal. The first two mentioned rejected this retaliatory measure. Instead, the Landwacht (Landwatch) was created.

In 1943 Truus van Lier managed to infiltrate the NSB and the Wehrmacht in Amersfoort. She took pictures of Soesterberg airport and passed them on to the resistance. In addition, as a courier, she delivered messages, weapons, and illegal literature and accompanied Jews to hiding places. At the time, Truus van Lier led a nomadic life and stayed at various shelters. After a long preparation, she shot the acting chief commissioner (‘police president’) G.J. Kerlen dead, near his home on the Willemsplantsoen. SD leader Willy Lages put a bounty of ten thousand guilders on her head. On September 14, Van Lier was in a restaurant in Haarlem when two Dutch detectives arrested her, after a tip from a traitor. She was convicted of murder, possession of weapons, and the status of ‘half Jew’. Together with CS-6 members Reina Prinsen Geerligs and Nel Hissink, she was deported to Germany.

She ended up in concentration camp Sachsenhausen, where she was executed on October 27, 1943.

Reina Prinsen Geerligs

Reina Prinsen Geerligs born in Semarang, Indonesia October 7, 1922, was a Dutch writer and resistance fighter.

Reina Prinsen Geerligs was born as the eldest in a family with two children; she had a brother two years younger. Shortly after her birth in Semarang, the family moved to Amsterdam. Reina was a member of the Youth Association for Nature Study and wrote poetry and prose. At the Barlaeus Gymnasium, she met the later writer Willem Frederik Hermans and Guido van Suchtelen, with whom she started dating. At the beginning of the war, she published her first work: the story “Justice,” for which she won the essay competition of the literary magazine Contact. As the war progressed, her literary aspirations faded into the background due to her resistance work. At school, she was one of the most combative students. For example, during the February strike (1941) she tried to bring about a strike with some fellow students. Although she Jewish descent, this background played no role in the family. Moreover, through the years in the Dutch East Indies, the family felt more Indonesian than Jewish.

In 1941 her parents moved to Laren, but Reina continued to live in Amsterdam. Her house became the meeting place for the resistance group CS-6, which she had joined. During her resistance work, she used the pseudonym Leentje Vandendriesch. She initially performed courier work in the resistance.

Reina Prinsen Geerligs is believed to have been involved in at least two attacks. On the evening of July 2, 1943, she and CS-6 member Louis Boissevain wanted to liquidate the police officer Pieter Kaay in Enschede. He was in favor of arresting the twelve members of the resistance who had been involved in the attack on the Amsterdam population register in March 1943, in which Reina also allegedly played a role. When they rang the bell at Kaay’s house and he was sitting in the living room with a child on his lap, they decided against the attack. The day after, Kaay was still liquidated, allegedly by Prinsen Geerligs and Louis Boissevain. The Germans appointed Boissevain as a gunner. However, new research indicates that Geerligs and Boissevain had nothing to do with this. The attack of 3 July is said to have been committed by a resistance group from Enschede.

On July 23, 1943, Reina Prinsen Geerligs was arrested when she brought a pistol to a CS-6 building in Cornelis Krusemanstraat (no. 79-1) – an arrested member of CS-6 must have given the address. Reina was taken to the House of Detention II on the Amstelveenseweg and probably confessed her resistance activities there, to protect the other members of the resistance group. She did not appear to have been physically abused. Alone in her cell, she scratched her motto on the wall: “Right through the world burst.” In prison, she encouraged other inmates through the heating pipes. One of these fellow inmates was Rose Lopes de Leão Laguna, who also worked for CS-6. They did not know each other, and it was only after the war that Lopes de Leão Laguna understood that it must have been Reina Prinsen Geerligs who encouraged the others. Prinsen Geerligs managed to smuggle a few messages out of prison with the laundry. Her last message to Van Suchtelen was, “I am proud of what I have done.”

After a few months, Reina Prinsen Geerligs was taken to Germany together with Nel Hissink-van den Brink and Truus van Lier, both also members of CS-6.

It is women like these Three Heroines that make me feel proud to be Dutch.



I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.


The Assassination of Fake Krist

On October 25, 1944, Fake Krist, a fanatic employee of the German Sicherheitsdienst, was shot dead by the Haarlem resistance, in the Netherlands Initially, the attack was attributed to Hannie Schaft’s resistance group, but later it turned out that a police squad with members from Halfweg, resistance group had liquidated Fake Krist. To this end, a rifle had been set up in a piano in a school gymnasium the day before. When the resistance wanted to enter the school, it was interrupted by a janitor who had to be tied up. Then, with a few gunshots, on his bicycle, anxious Krist was liquidated.

The book The Assault by Harry Mulisch is based on the attack.

Fake Krist was a member of the NSB and a police officer. He was very active in the persecution of resistance members, people in hiding, and Jews. Nico Sikkel gave the order to liquidate him. The plan was to shoot him from the school on Westergracht, across the street from where Krist was staying. This required a sniper. Gommert Krijger and Jan Overzet were approached for this. Hannie Schaft and Truus Oversteegen had also been instructed to liquidate Fake Krist; they happened to be present in Haarlem on the same day to see the liquidation take place before their own eyes. Reprisals followed immediately.

The Nazis retaliated the attack on Fake Krist by first selecting ten men from the prison of the Weteringschans in Amsterdam and bringing them to Haarlem. Secondly, they executed the ten men in public at the park behind the Cathedral Basilica of St. Bavo.

In addition, the Nazis also set fire to a block of four houses on the Westergracht.

One day after the attack, two German military trucks stopped early in the morning at the park behind the Bavo. The civil servant Johan van Rijn saw it happen from his bedroom window.

Passers-by were forced to watch the Germans retaliate. The resistance fighter Truus Oversteegen was there. With others, she was stopped when she happened to pass by. Five men jumped handcuffed from one of the trucks. They were set up in front of the gate of the park. When the guns were put to the shoulders, an old man hesitantly began to sing the Wilhelmus, the Dutch National anthem. A machine gun volley sounded and the men were killed. Immediately afterward, five other men suffered the same fate. As an additional measure of reprisal, four houses on the corner Leidsezijstraat-Westergracht were destroyed. They had to be evacuated within 45 minutes and went up in flames. The inhabitants couldn’t take much more than a few clothes they’d hastily snatched from the coat rack.

The Dutch author Harry Mulisch wrote the book The Assault in 1982, based on the events of October 25 and 26, 1944. In 1986 Dutch Film Director Fons Rademakers made a movie based on the book. It was also called The Assault and received the Oscar in 1987 for best film in a foreign language.


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.