View profile

No warm welcome

NOS 75 years of liberation
Not everyone who returned to the Netherlands was given a warm welcome: forced laborers and prisoners of war were sometimes treated as if they had collaborated. In this 42nd issue of our newsletter we also have a lot of attention for persons living under Japanese occupation and of course the passing of the Forces’ Sweetheart, Vera Lynn.
“A blow to the face.” That’s what a former prisoner of war called his return to our country. People blamed the thousands of soldiers who had left for ‘voluntarily’ going. Why did they not go into hiding? And the same was said about the forced laborers who were drafted, the men discovered upon returning. “We had no choice”, says a man who felt treated as if was a member of the SS. “If I were to have stayed my parents would have been arrested.”   
Forced laborers on their way back home
Forced laborers on their way back home
Upon returning home the inhabitants of the Betuwe discovered their houses had suffered for months in the front lines. “Death lurking around every corner”. The area was one of the heaviest hit regions, as can be seen on a list that the government had written up. An area hit even harder by the war was IJmuiden, that functioned as the German Festung. Because it had been attacked regularly by the Allies, it looked like the moon’s surface.
In Zeeland, the inhabitants even break into the German bunkers to make them into homes. Luxury was not to be found; however, it was better that the ruins of homes destroyed in battle. The dangers of returning can still be seen in Zeeland where a ship filled with evacuees gets destroyed by a sea mine: 19 people lose their lives.
Emergency shelter in a bunker
Emergency shelter in a bunker
In other places men bury the war victims that are still found every day. Resistance hero’s that had been given anonymous graves. Sometimes their family’s only now receive conformation of their fears: every day the papers are filled with obituares of people that had passed months before.
In the Dutch East Indies Dutch nationals are still waiting for the end of the war. On Sumatra those living in the camps are forced to move to another place on the island. While many were hoping for their freedom, the artist from Zeeland Gabriëlse dies imprisoned. Until his very last moment he documented the live in the camps in the occupied colony. Elsewhere in Asia cabaret performances are banned; the Dutch artists had tried to spark a little joy in these harsh times.
 Gabriëlse drew his fellow prisoners (Collection Museon)
Gabriëlse drew his fellow prisoners (Collection Museon)
War massages
Other massages this week:
The cookie jars would around for years to come, as can be seen in these Polygoon images from 1950. During the annual “Beurstrommelen” the food containers were still used as drums.
The etablishment of Beurstrommelen
The etablishment of Beurstrommelen
Not on the site
For our story on the cabaret in the Thai jungle we used the book Captive audience/captive performers, in which author Sears Eldredge writes about the delicate lotus dance that had deeply touched the military prisoners. A few months later a sequel to the dance took place. Again, a lotus flower blossomed on stage, but this time the budding of the leaves did not reveal a pretty dancing girl, but rather a clown that preformed a drunken dance.
One of the artists that was in charge of entertaining the prisoners in other camps was Wim Kan. He had been drafted when the Netherlands was occupied during his tour through the Dutch EastIndies. In his book, ironically titled 100 dagen uit en thuis (100 days home and away) he recorded his songs that he had written in the camp:
“I would love to wait in front of the traffic light in The Hague – as a regular cyclist like before– or in the line for the post office waiting patiently – joyfully waiting on a stamp of five!”
75 years later: WO ll and liberation news from 2020
Vera Lynn, the voice of the war passed away aged 103. During the war she sang her bittersweet We’ll meet again for soldiers and those who stayed behind
Dutch soldiers asking for an autograph of Lynn
Dutch soldiers asking for an autograph of Lynn
Also, resistance member Betty Goudsmit-Hoek (96) has passed. She was the last member of the group of Jewish children that where saved from the Hollandse Schouwburg.
The first beam for the Holocaust memorial was struck in Amsterdam. In the same city the former residence of Etty Hillesum is saved from destruction.
And lastly the award for best journalistic book has been given to Liever dier dan mens (Rather animal than human). It’s the story how a Jewish girl from Poland lived through the war in the lion’s den.
Next week the complex story of the Jewish Jew-traitor Ans van Dijk, fuss surrounding food exports to Germany and the start of the largest liberation festival in Amsterdam.
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.