View profile

Manna from heaven

NOS 75 years of liberation
Hitler is dead, and so is Mussolini. Nazi-Germany is split in two now the Americans met up with the Russians at the river Elbe. Allied food droppings in the Netherlands are the first sign of imminent liberation. It’s clear the end of the war is just around the corner. But how long this final stage will last is unclear. Furthermore in the 35th issue of our newsletter the American soldier that kept reaching out to Russians even during the Cold War and an overview of what the 4th and 5th of May will look like during this corona crisis.
The noise must have been deafening. Enprmous bombers flying so low that the pilots can be seen in their cockpits. With joy and hope people look up to these war machines: they used to bring destruction, but now operation Manna brings food from the sky.
The Allies insisted the Germans would allow food-aid during the negotiations in Achterveld. If they would not care for the starving Dutch people their Allies would. Official German permission was still lacking for those first flights. All the pilots could do was hope the Germans would not shoot at the low flying planes. They would not even have broken the law of war, the pilot of the plane that was used as test-run agreed.
Pieter Butternaar, the boy that startled by the first food run passed away this January. By coincidence he would lameet two crew members of the Bad Penny. Buttenaar moved to Canada after the war (“the land of our liberators”). When he was interviewed in 1996 by a local paper a picture of him with on the wall behind him a Lancaster was accompanied to the story. An aviation enthusiast reached out and brought him in contact with the crew. 
“I was shocked that I could come in contact with these men and their wives after 50 years. We cried, we laughed. I was so happy that I could thank them.”
A day later Achterveld was once again the scene for an impartant meeting. This time Seyss-Inquart also attended and spoke with the Allies. To his irritation Prince Bernhard came driving with a confiscated Mercedes of the Reichskommissar. “He didn’t like it”, the amused prince grinned.
The Allies tried to get Seyss to surrender during that second meeting, but the Commissioner insisted it was not up to him: Hitler himself had ordered him to keep control of the coast.
The Führer would kill himself that same afternoon, while Russian soldiers neared the center of Berlin. A day prior he had married his mistress Eva Braun in the Führerbunker. “My wife and I choose death, to prevent the embarrassment of the deposition and capitulation.” Hitler had heard what had happened to Mussolini and wanted do prevent that by having his body burned. 
Hitlers Reich had already been split in two for a few days on that point. The Americans and the Russians had met each other at the Elbe.
The Allied advance trough Germany keeps revealing new concentration camps. The Americans are shocked by what they find in Dachau. Train wagons filled with bodies of evacuees from other camps. 700 kilometers north Ravensbrück is liberated shortly after the Red Cross evacuates thousands of women from there.
The women regain their strength in Sweden for now. It might take some time to get home, as is clear from a group of Dutch Jews that was freed from Auschwitz in January, but has now only reached Odessa. From there they would go to the Netherlands by way of Marseille. Meanwhile they are desperately trying to find out if their family members are still alive. Otto Frank has already found had that his wife had succumbed. “If only I can retrieve the children.”
In the Netherlands the battle for the north of the country has ended with the liberation of the Delfzijl region. And because Montgomery has ordered not to attack the West of the country, the fighting is finally over in the Netherlands. Some isolated incidents still take lives. For example in Zevenhuizen where a misunderstanding breaks the tense truce. Or acts of revenge in Heemskerk after a boobytrap. The western parts of the country wait out these strained times: when will this war truly be over?
War reports
Other messages this week:
Princes Armgard would never see her beloved estate in Woynowo again. After the war it became a part of Poland, behind the iron curtain. Rather than remaining in German she moved to Warmelo in Overijssel (after she officially was declared not to be an enemy in 1947). There she lived a mostly withdrawn live, untill her death in 1971.
During an interview in 1966 she painted herself as a combative woman during the war. “Under my bed I kept a loaded pistol and a loaded rifle. If the gestapo would have come early in the morning I would have fired, but not during the day. Because then they would not cause trouble. But you knew that when they came early they came to take you away.”
She also tol the interviewer of her plan to escape with her son Aschwin to Sweden. “An aircraft from the Lufthansa would make a fake emergency landing. The passengers would get out and we would get on board with three directors of the Lufthansa to Sweden. But the attack on Hitler put an end to the plan because all air traffic got shut down.”
Request: finals
For a story on the graduate students of 1945 we are looking for people that had to take their exams that year. Just as they are now, the exams had to be canceled that year: the students received a diploma mostly based on the older grades. Are you one of those students? Or do you know someone who was? We would love to hear the stories via
Not used on the site
In our story on the meeting between the Allies forces near the Elbe we did not have the chance to go into detail on the drama that took place on the bridge in Lorenzkirch. It was via that bridge that on April 22nd 25.000 civilians tried to flee, afraid of the advancing Soviets. The exodus crossed the unstable emergency bridge, since the regular bridge was used for the military retreat. “A frightening sight, so many fleeing people on such a small place”, a witness remembered.
When the Russians closed in the Germans decided to destroy the pontoon bridge, even though there were still fellow Germans on it. They did not hear the warnings or were pushed forward by the crow. “A deafening blast and chaos followed. Horses were dragging people and full carriages into the Elbe. You could hear the screams out of the mouths of hundreds of terrified people.”
200 people died by estimation. They were buried in a mass grave, together with the Germans that lost their lives during the battle for Lorenzkirch.
The official photo of the first contact between the US and the USSR
The official photo of the first contact between the US and the USSR
The American soldier Joe Polowsky was so astonished by the contact made with his Soviet colleagues that he kept on fighting for a better, more friendly understanding between the countries. Because April 25th was also the day an agreement was struck in the UN he tried to declare that day to World Peace Day. When he died in 1983 he was buried in Torgau (still a part of the GDR during that time) on the place where East and West had officially met.
50 years after the first contact, they act how they made the first contact
50 years after the first contact, they act how they made the first contact
Liberation newscasts
The already 4th series of the liberation newscast has started. Earlier subjects like D-Day, Market Garden and the hunger winter were discussed, now the newscasts will cover the prelude and aftermath of liberation. To rewatch the newscasts you can click here (in Dutch). A final series will follow this August, on the start of the reconstruction and the capitulation of Japan. 
Also, on the 4th of May the NOS youth broadcast will go back in time 75 years: Lucas van Meerendonk will talk about the German surrender and will recap 5 years of war with personal stories of children. For example, the bombardment of Rotterdam, the Hunger marches and the persecution of the Jews. 
The story of the return of queen Wilhelmina was published too soon due to a wrong date in our source material. Her official return was on the 2nd of May. Also, there was a mistake in last week’s issue: the battle of the Georgians against the Germans was not on the island of Schiermonnikoog but on Texel. Thank you to the readers that pointed that out to us.
4 and 5 May
Due to the measures taken all trough the country to slow down the spread of the corona virus the national Memorial Day on the 4th of May will look completely different in comparison to what we are used to. The memorial service in the Nieuwe Kerk and the placement of the wreaths will still take place but this year without an audience. And the concert on the Amstel on the 5th of May has been canceled.
The NOS will broadcast the Memorial from 7pm until 8:15pm on all NPO-channels. On 9pm on NPO 1 the special After the Dam will be broadcast from the empty Amsterdam city theater. Winfried Baijens will present a program filled with music by artists like Douwe Bob, Claudia de Breij, Herman van Veen, Wende, Typhoon, Nasrdin Dchar, Guus Meeuwis. Actors like Hans Kesting, Marieke Heebink, Halina Reijn, Achraf Koutet, Gijs Scholten van Aschat and Joy Delima will perform stories making clear why we should remember.
On NPO 2 on 8:35pm the reveal of The war in 100 pictures will be broadcast. The audience was allowed to choose the most important pictures from WO ll.
On liberation day a program hosted by Theater Carré will do a musical recap of the 75 years after the liberation with artists like Roel van Velzen, Simone Kleinsma and the Metropole Orchestra. An overview on the 5th of may concerts from the past wil also be part of the program.
75 years later: WO II and liberation news from 2020
The clocks from the carillon that the Netherlands gifted to the USA as a thank you are renovated and tuned once again, after visit to the clock maker in Asten.
To mark the end of the Second World War the Royal Mint presents a memorial coin of 5 euro.
And the theft of a war monument in Utrecht seems to be solved with the arrest of a 59-year-old suspect.
Next week we will cover the liberation, but also note how chaotic it went in some places: Germans were dragging their feed, the Allied advance stalled and the Dutch resistance overplayed their hand, sometimes with bloody consequences.
Do please share this newsletter. Remarks or feedback are happily recieved.
See you next week, in the meantime please follow You can also follow our Instagram-account 75 years liberation for more photo’s and video’s.