Royal Gas proof Baby Buggies.

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As the threat of war increased in Europe in August 1939, the Dutch army was placed at a heightened state of alertness. In early 1940, as a precautionary measure, the firm of Kiekens built two gasproof baby buggies as protection against the possibility of a poisonous attack. This one for the then two-year-old Dutch Princess Beatrix and another for her younger sister Princess Irene.

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On 12 May, two days after the German invasion, Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard fled with their two baby daughters to the harbour town of IJmuiden ,in the Netherlands, in a bulletproof car An English warship was waiting there to take them to safety. A day later, Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch government also arrived safely ashore in Great Britain. The gasproof buggies remained behind in the Netherlands.

Royal Pram Pusher

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Karl Peter Berg commander of Camp Amersfoort.

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Karl Berg was originally the third man in the chain of command at Camp Amersfoort and in 1943 he was appointed camp commandant. He had a reputation for being cruel and merciless. Berg was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of prisoners.

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A group of 101 Russian prisoners who had arrived at the camp in 1941 were among those who died. Part of the them were starved to death; the other 77 were killed in group executions. Berg was later responsible for a number of retaliations, including the one carried out after SS and Police leader Hanns Albin Rauter was ambushed by the Resistance in the hamlet of Woeste Hoeve on the Veluwe, a wooded area in the Dutch province of Gelderland. The day after this unexpected March 1945 attack, Berg had 49 men executed on a rifle range. Following the Liberation in 1945, Berg was forced to point out the location of the mass graves where his victims had been dumped.

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At that moment he was still wearing these boots, but later they were taken from him.

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One of the most notorious SS-officers of PDA Amersfoort was Joseph Kotälla. He was appointed in September 1942 by Karl Peter Berg.

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He was famous for his so-called ‘Kotälla-kick’, a very hard kick in the testicles with his army-boot. He also took part in many of the firing squads and he took a special interest in Jewish prisoners and priests, which he physically abused most frequently and fanatically.

In 1948 the camp commandant and guards of Amersfoort were tried and convicted for their crimes. Karl Peter Berg was sentenced to death and was executed in 1949.

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Martyrs of Gorkum(Gorinchem)

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This story might surprise many for the Netherlands is known as a tolerant and multi cultural society, this wasn’t always the case.

The Martyrs of Gorkum (Dutch: Martelaren van Gorinchem) were a group of 19 Dutch Catholic clerics and friars who were hanged on 9 July 1572 in the town of Brielle (or Den Briel) by militant Dutch Calvinists during the 16th century religious wars in the Low Countries.

As of 1572, Lutheranism and Calvinism had spread through a great part of Europe. In the Netherlands this was followed by a struggle between the two denominations in which Calvinism was victorious. On 1 April of the next year, Calvinist forces and a rebel group called the Watergeuzen (Sea Beggars) conquered Brielle (Den Briel) and later Vlissingen.

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In June, Dordrecht and Gorkum fell, and at the latter the rebels captured nine Franciscans: Nicholas Pieck, guardian of Gorkum; Hieronymus of Weert, vicar; Theodorus van der Eem of Amersfoort; Nicasius Janssen of Heeze; Willehad of Denmark; Godefried of Mervel; Antonius of Weert; Antonius of Hoornaer, and Franciscus de Roye of Brussels. To these were added two lay brothers from the same friary, Petrus of Assche and Cornelius of Wijk bij Duurstede. At almost the same time the Calvinists arrested the parish priest of Gorkum, Leonardus Vechel of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and his assistant.

Also imprisoned were Godefried van Duynsen of Gorkum, a priest in his native city, and Joannes Lenartz of Oisterwijk, a canon regular from a nearby priory and spiritual director for the monastery of Augustinian nuns in Gorkum. To these fifteen were later added four more companions: Joannes van Hoornaer (alias known as John of Cologne), a Dominican of the Cologne province and parish priest not far from Gorkum, who when apprised of the incarceration of the clergy of Gorkum hastened to the city in order to administer the sacraments to them and was seized and imprisoned with the rest; Jacobus Lacops of Oudenaar, a Norbertine, who became a curate in Monster, South Holland; Adrianus Janssen of Hilvarenbeek, a Premonstratensian canon and at one time parish priest in Monster, who was sent to Brielle with Jacobus Lacops. Last was Andreas Wouters of Heynoord.

In prison at Gorkum (from 26 June to 6 July 1572), the first 15 prisoners were transferred to Brielle, arriving there on 8 July.On their way to Dordrecht they were exhibited for money to the curious. The following day, William de la Marck, Lord of Lumey, commander of the Gueux de mer, had them interrogated and ordered a disputation. In the meantime, four others arrived. It was demanded of each that he abandon his belief in the Blessed Sacrament and in papal supremacy. All remained firm in their faith. Meanwhile, a letter arrived from the Prince of Orange, William the Silent, which enjoined all those in authority to leave priests and religious unmolested. But to no avail.On 9 July, they were hanged in a turf shed.

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A shrub bearing 19 white flowers is said to have sprung up at the site of the martyrdom. Many miracles have been attributed to the intercession of the Gorkum martyrs, especially the curing of hernias.The beatification of the martyrs took place on 14 November 1675, and their canonization on 29 June 1867. They were canonised on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, as part of the grand celebrations to mark the 1800th anniversary of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul AD67.

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For many years the place of their martyrdom in Brielle has been the scene of numerous pilgrimages and processions. The reliquary of their remains is now enshrined in the Church of Saint Nicholas, Brussels, Belgium.

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Forbidden for Jews

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Less than two months after the German invasion, Jewish employees of the Dutch Air Raid Defence Service were dismissed. It was the first in a long line of anti-Jewish measures. Jews were gradually isolated from the rest of the population in the Netherlands.

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The German occupier went about this very systematically. Jews had to register and their identity cards were stamped with a J. Jewish business owners were required to report and assigned a Verwalter, an Aryan supervisor who took over running their business. Measures to restrict freedom of movement followed in 1941: Jews were banned from public places such as parks, swimming pools, sports facilities and museums.

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Jewish children were forced to attend Jewish schools and even needed permission to travel. More and more signboards appeared on the street with the text Voor Joden verboden (Forbidden for Jews). Such as this board: equipped with metal brackets on the back to easily attach it to a lamppost.

Starting in May 1942 Jews were required to wear a yellow star. The deportations from the Netherlands began two months later under the guise of ‘employment’: instead Jews were sent to extermination camps where they were killed

Nationale Jeugdstorm- The Dutch Hitler Youth.

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When standing at attention for a long time, once the musical director gives the sign, the horn may be placed under the right arm’ These and other strict instructions applied to playing the Nationale Jeugdstorm (NJS, National Youth Storm) trumpet.

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With the Hitlerjugend  (Hitler Youth Movement) in Germany as their example, the Dutch Nazi Party (NSB) established the NJS, a Dutch youth movement for ten to eighteen year olds. Sports, games and entertainment went hand-in-hand with physical training and preparation for military service.

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National Socialist principles and admiration for Mussert and Hitler were key. Music played an important role, especially to add lustre to the many parades and marches. Practically every chapter had its own band. Just like in the NSB, discipline and obedience ruled. Every member was required to react without delay to different trumpet signals: to rise to one’s feet, to assemble or when a fire broke out. Almost all the youngsters were children of NSB members. During the war, membership in the NJS grew to more than 12,000.

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Once they reached the age of 18 they seamlessly enrolled into either the Waffen SS or the ” Nederlandse Arbeidsdienst” Dutch labor service.

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The forged identity cards that saved lives.

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Most of the Holocaust related stories are bitter tragedies,however every once in a while a positive tale of survival during the world’s darkest era pops up.

On 8 October 1941, the Jewish cattle dealer Salli Schwarz narrowly escaped a roundup on Molenstraat in the town of Winterswijk,the Nerherlands.. Sneaking through backyard after backyard, he embarked on a journey that would last the rest of the war. Salli, followed by his wife Betty and daughter Ria, went from one hiding place to another.

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Sadly Ria could not stay with them, she had to be hidden elsewhere. Salli and Bettie left their daughter behind with the Resistance. Members of the Resistance provided them with ration coupons and fake I.D. cards, which were needed whenever they changed hiding places.

The members of the resistance would put their lives at risk for doing this. Being caught with false papers was punishable by death,leave alone creating them.

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Salli was given a false identification with the name Pieter de Graaf. Salli and Bettie survived the war and found Ria safe and sound in the care of a childless minister and his wife, with whom they kept in contact for many years.

 

The Raid on the Medway-ending the Second Anglo-Dutch War.

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The Medway raid of 9-14/19-24 June 1667 saw a Dutch fleet sail into the Thames and attack the British fleet in its anchorage in the Medway, causing a panic in London and winning a victory that helped bring the Second Anglo-Dutch War to an end.

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At the end of the summer of 1666 the British controlled the Channel, after the victory on St James’s Day and the devastating raid on Dutch shipping on 10 August (‘Holmes’s Bonfire’), but this was a short-lived success. The Great Plague of 1665 had already lowered Charles II’s income, and this was followed by the Great Fire of London (2-5 September 1666). Over the winter of 1666-67 the British fleet was laid up in the Medway, and at the start of the campaigning season of 1667 only two small squadrons put out to sea. Peace negotiations had already begun, and to a certain extend Charles’s decision was linked to this, while many in Britain believed that the Dutch would be unable to fund a powerful fleet of their own.

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This was not the case. The Grand Pensionary, Johan de Witt, was opposed to peace on the terms then available, and decided to launch a daring raid into the Thames to attack the British at anchor. The Dutch slowly built up the strength of their fleet at sea. A relatively small fleet sailed north to raid Scotland before returning south, and by 4 June a fleet of 54 ships of the line was off the Thames. This increased to sixty four on 6 June, and finally, on 7 June, Michiel de Ruyter arrived with the rest of the fleet.

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The Medway was very poorly defended in the summer of 1667. A strong iron chain supported by pontoons had been stretched across the river at Gillingham, and thirty pinnaces were available to fend off fireships. Only on 12 June, by which time the Dutch were already in the Medway, was George Monck ordered to build a gun battery at Gillingham.

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De Ruyter decided to send a small squadron up the Thames as far as Northfleet Hope, at Tilbury. This squadron would then turn back and sail into the Medway, where it would attack British shipping and if possible seize the defences of Sheerness. Lieutenant-Admiral Van Ghent was given command of the squadron, which contained seventeen men-of-war of between 60 and 36 guns, most of the ten fireships in the fleet and all of the smaller galliots.

Dutch Attack on the Medway, June 1667

The Dutch attack began in 9 June, when Van Ghent made slow progress up the Thames against a south-westerly wind. The wind prevented the Dutch from attacking some British ships in the Hope and at Gravesend, and on the night of 9-10 June Van Ghent moored just below Gravesend.

On 10 June the Dutch entered the Medway and captured the fort at Sheerness. Charles II responded by sending George Monck, duke of Albemarle, to Kent to organise a defence. Only now was the iron chain put in place at Gillingham, and a small gun battery built at each end while the Unity was posted just below the chain.

The crucial moment of the raid came on 12 June when the Dutch reached the chain. The Vrede, under Captain Jan van Brakel, and with two fireships in support, led the attack.

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While the Vrede attacked and captured the Unity, the fireships attacked and broke the chain. One then destroyed the British guardship Matthias. Van Brakel then went on to capture the Charles V, and used her guns against the British coastal batteries.

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The rest of the British fleet in the Medway was now virtually defenceless. The Royal Charles was quickly captured, and began Van Ghent’s flagship for the day, before being towed across the Channel (as was the Unity). The Monmouth was also burnt during the day.

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On 13 June the Dutch pushed further up the Medway. Although Upnor Castle and a battery on the opposite bank offered more resistance, the Dutch were still able to burn the Royal Oak, the  Loyal London and the Old James, while a larger number of ships were forced to run aground to save themselves.

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On 14 June, with most of his fireships gone, De Ruyter withdrew from the Medway and moored close to Queenborough, before moved into the mouth of the Thames. For a short period London was blockaded, and everything that normally arrived by sea was quickly in short supply (the price of coal rose from 15s to 140s per ton). De Ruyter considered mounting an attack up the Thames towards London, but a combination of improving British defences and the non-appearance of a French fleet forced him to abandon that plan. Finally, at the start of July, de Ruyter left the Thames and entered the Channel. An attack on Landguard Fort (2 July 1667) failed, ending a plan to attack Harwich.

The Dutch victory in the Medway forced Charles II to take the peace negotiations more seriously, and within a few weeks the war came to an end (Treaty of Breda, 31 July 1667).

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The Navigation Acts were modified to allow Dutch and German goods to enter Britain in Dutch ships, and most colonies taken during the war were returned, although the Dutch kept Surinam and Britain kept New York and New Jersey.

The peace was short-lived. After a brief period in which Holland, Britain and Sweden allied together to oppose Louis XIV, the French king managed to bribe Charles II to change sides, only five years after the Peace of Breda, in 1672, the Third Anglo-Dutch War broke out.

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The Dutch slave trade

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I am immensely proud of my country but like most other nations on earth it does have several black pages in its history books.

Like other European maritime nations, the Dutch were quick to involve themselves in the transtlantic slave trade. Between 1596 and 1829, the Dutch transported about half a million Africans across the Atlantic. Large numbers were taken to the small islands of Curaçao and St. Eustatius, in the Caribbean. Most of the Africans landed there, however, were subsequently trans-shipped to Spanish colonies. The two islands were thus staging posts for the re-sale and dispatch of Africans who survived the Middle Passage to other American slave colonies.

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Dutch involvement in the Atlantic slave trade covers the 17th-19th centuries. Initially the Dutch shipped slaves to northern Brazil, and during the second half of the 17th century they had a controlling interest in the trade to the Spanish colonies. Today’s Suriname and Guyana became prominent markets in the 18th century. Between 1612 and 1872, the Dutch operated from some 10 fortresses along the Gold Coast (now Ghana), from which slaves were shipped across the Atlantic.

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The trade declined between 1780 and 1815. The Dutch part in the Atlantic slave trade is estimated at 5-7 percent, or some 550,000-600,000 Africans.

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The abolition of slavery in British Guyana in 1834 caused an upheaval among people who had little hope of release in the neighbouring district of Nickerie in Surinam. The Dutch authorities reinforced the garrison and took precautionary measures. Even so, rebellion erupted in 1837. Unrest spread to sugar, coffee and tobacco plantations elsewhere in Surinam and some people attempted to escape.

Protests were not unusual on plantations in the West Indies colonies, and they were brutally suppressed. Already in the 18th century small communities had formed in the forests of Surinam of people who had escaped and who regularly raided nearby plantations. While those who had rebelled at Nickerie in 1837 were severely punished, others were rewarded for remaining obedient. This medal was given to George of Leasowes plantation ‘for his proven loyalty to legitimate authority during the disturbances among the slaves in Nickerie’

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On 1 July 1863, slavery was abolished in the former Dutch colonies of Suriname and the Dutch Antilles. This ended  a period of around 200 years of slavery in these colonies

Ernst Cahn- the Koco affair.

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Ernst Cahn, a German-Jewish refugee,son of Salomon Cahn and Rosa Katzenstein. He married in 1914 and had two children who survived the war.

He lived with his family from 1924-1928 in Amsterdam. In 1936 he returned to the Netherlands, to Huizen, from Germany because of the persecution of the Jews.

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Ernst Cahn co-owned ice-cream parlour Koco in the Van Woustraat in Amsterdam with business partner Alfred Kohn.They  were well liked by both Jews and gentiles of Amsterdam. After the Germans occupied the city, several customers purchased weapons for the owners and installed a 20-inch ammonia flask to the parlor wall to ward off unwanted visitors. When a German police patrol was sprayed with ammonia, a riot ensued. The event became known as the Koco affair.

On Wednesday, 19 February 1941, a patrol of the Nazi Ordnungspolizei carried out a raid on the ice-cream parlour. Inside, a bunch of heavies were waiting for them, as they had expected an attack by pro-Nazi Dutchmen. Ammonia was squirted from the ice-cream parlour. Ernst Cahn and Alfred Kohn were arrested and condemned by a Nazi court after they endured serious physical abuse in Amsterdam and in the penal barrack in Scheveningen’s prison.

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Despite being tortured ,Ernst Cahn did not divulge the name of the technician who had designed and installed the ammonia flask. Ernst Cahn was condemned to death. He was executed on 3 March 1941. Ernst Cahn was the first person in the Netherlands to die in front of a firing squad.Alfred Kohn died in Auschwitz in April 1945.

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The “Koco Affair” in Amsterdam instigated the Nazis’ first roundup of Dutch Jews. German troops entered the Jonas Daniel Meyer Square in the Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam on February 22, 1941.

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They arrested and physically abused approximately 400 Jews, most of whom were then deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

 

Battle of Heiligerlee-1568

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The Battle of Heiligerlee (Heiligerlee, Groningen, 23 May 1568) was fought between Dutch rebels and the Spanish army of Friesland. This was the first Dutch victory during the Eighty Years’ War.

The Groningen province of the Spanish Netherlands was invaded by an army consisting of 3,900 infantry led by Louis of Nassau and 200 cavalry led by Adolf of Nassau.

Both were brothers of William I of Orange.

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The intention was to begin an armed uprising against the Spanish rulers of the Netherlands.

The Stewart of Friesland and also Duke of Aremberg, Johan de Ligne, had an army of 3,200 infantry and 20 cavalry.Aremberg initially avoided confrontation, awaiting reinforcements from the Count of Meghem. However, on 23 May, Adolf’s cavalry lured him to an ambush at the monastery of Heiligerlee. Louis’ infantry, making up the bulk of the army, defeated the Spanish force which lost 1,500–2,000 men, while the invading force lost 50, including Adolf. The rebels captured seven cannon.

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The invading force however, did not capture any cities and was soon defeated at the Battle of Jemmingen.

The death of Adolf of Nassau is mentioned in the Dutch national anthem (4th verse):

Lijf en goed al te samen
heb ik u niet verschoond,
mijn broeders hoog van namen
hebben ‘t u ook vertoond:
Graaf Adolf is gebleven
in Friesland in de slag,
zijn ziel in ‘t eeuwig leven
verwacht de jongste dag

“Count Adolf stayed behind, in Friesland, in the battle