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1940-1945, the resistance in the dutch province of Limburg

  • Resistance in Limburg

    The fallen resistance fighters in the dutch province of Limburg

    In the memorial chapel of the provincial resistance monument on the Cauberg in Valkenburg, on three walls are the names of fallen resistance fighters from Dutch Limburg. They are all names with a story, which of course cannot be told there due to lack of space. So that happens here. Anyone who can contribute is expressly requested to get in touch. See the contact page.
    Those resistance people, in this case almost only men (Why, in fact? See couriers, the group of resistance fighters, which increasingly consisted of women.), are mostly unforgotten, especially in the places where they lived. We find their stories on local websites, in some cases also on Wikipedia.
    A great help for those who search for Dutch war victims are specially the websites of the Oorlogsgravenstichting (war graves foundation) and
    Much of the background information comes from the unsurpassed book by Fred Cammaert: Het Verborgen Front, Geschiedenis van de georganiseerde illegaliteit in de provincie Limburg tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog.
    The complete book can be found on the website of the University of Groningen. (Only a summary is available in english.)

    Memorable events in Limburg

    | Vervolgd in Limburg (Prosecuted in Limburg) | The Danger of Lists | The “Hannibalspiel” | Englandspiel | The strikes of April-May 1943 | SiPo Maastricht | The OD trial of Maastricht | The Raid of Weert | The Strike of Wittem | The Raid on the Distribution Office in Valkenburg | The Treason of Maastricht | The raid on the Maastricht prison on september 5th, 1944 | Eleven imprisoned resistance fighters from Nijmegen killed | Between Maas and Peel | A military training camp for people in hiding | The Tears of Roermond | Revenge actions during the liberation

    Vervolgd in Limburg (Prosecuted in Limburg)

    That is the title of the dissertation by the historian Herman van Rens.
    He states on p. 371 that two factors played an important role in saving an above-average number of Jews:

    1. A tightly cooperating group in which people knew each other very well, preferably from before the war, and
    2. the presence of inspiring people who took the lead.

    In summary: “A small group of moral leaders in Limburg showed the way of practical charity. Their positive example made it easy to follow them.”
    He notes, that point 2 played a decisive role in the numbers of saved Jews.

    The murder of the Sinti (Porajmos), who were present in Limburg before and during the war, went quite differently. They did not live in the midst of society like the Jews, which made it easier for the Nazis. The snare, even for the people themselves, was put on almost silently. First the so-called “work-shy elements“ were forbidden to travel, then they were obliged to go to central assembly camps, where they were to be “re-educated”. Many settled Limburgers may have thought at the time, “Well, it was about time!”. But most did not even notice. The Sinti at that time still lived almost all in caravans. These were confiscated. Thus, a large part of them disappeared from view. On 16 May 1944 a large-scale raid was carried out throughout the Netherlands, during which 578 people were arrested and taken to camp Westerbork. Finally, 244 of them were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on May 19, 1944. Only 31 of them survived the war.
    More in the Advies Gemeentelijk woonwagen-en standplaatsenbeleid of the “Vereniging Behoud Woonwagencultuur in Nederland” (association for the preservation of the caravan culture in the Netherlands). It discusses the persecution of the Sinti and the other Roma, but also of other people who led a “gypsy-like” life according to the National Socialists.
    See also what Roger Moreno Rathgeb said, the composer of the Requiem for Auschwitz, about “The Forgotten Holocaust” before he lit a candle during the memorial service “Valkenburg liberated 75 years ago”.

    The Danger of Lists

    This is the translation of an excerpt of De jacht op het verzet (The Hunt for the Resistance), chapter: The tragedy of the ‘small’ resistance by Ad van Liempt.
    Already in the first years of the war, the CPN resistance organization was busted in three villages (Schaesberg, Nieuwenhagen and Ubach over Worms, which form what is now Landgraaf in the eastern part of the coal mining district) by the negligence of one of its members, who was suspected of having stolen a bicycle. A list of names was found in his house. Almost everyone on this list perished in German camps. Among them were also some people who, according to Van Liempt, had bought a communist newspaper only once or twice. After the war, these people were also listed in the CPN archives as comrades who had fallen in Limburg.

    All but a few of those arrested were found guilty of membership in a communist group. Via the Amersfoort concentration camp, they ended up in camps such as Neuengamme, Buchenwald and Rathenau. Among them are at least seven men who had read such a newspaper only once or twice. According to his brother Dirk, 27-year-old Johan Veldhoven, for example, had read a copy of De Vonk only once: “He didn’t sell this newspaper”, Dirk Veldhoven stated emphatically after the war. Johan Veldhoven was no longer able to express himself, because he died in Neuengamme on November 6, 1942.
    A total of sixteen men died in this matter. Waltherus van den Beemd was one of the few prisoners who returned after the war: In April 1945, he was liberated from the Rathenau camp by Russian troops. His left thigh had been frostbitten by the long hours of roll call, and “due to the mistreatment by Nitsch and in the camps, I am no longer able to do heavy work,” he stated. Maricus van de Wetering (37), Heinrich Tholen and Albert Koenders (54) from Schaesberg, Johannes Tersteeg (52) and Cornelis Rombouts (53) from Nieuwenhagen and Gerrit Jansen (54) from Ubach over Worms, they all died in Neuengamme or Buchenwald. Their crime: reading a single issue of De Vonk or De Waarheid.

    The “Hannibalspiel”

    An important part of the resistance work, especially in the border province of Limburg, was already early in the war to set up escape lines for prisoners of war who fled from Germany, later also for fleeing Jews, shot down Allied aircrew (usually called pilots) and Dutchmen on their way to England. From Germany and the Netherlands one of these lines ran via Eijsden (NL) to Voeren (B) and Visé. From the Land of Herve and Liège, the refugees were taken to Givet on the French border or to Brussels, where other resistance groups took them over. The first were the French and Belgians who fled from captivity. This started as early as 1940. They often knocked on churches’ doors for help. In the course of 1941 a resistance group arose in the border town of Eijsden from the local brass band Sainte Cécile: the fruit grower Alphons Smeets with his entire family, the couple De Liedekerke, customer D. Sleeuwenhoek (who could freely cross the border and knew when patrols were running) and the brass band conductor Arthur Renkin from Liège. (Cammaert 75-94, 135, 239-240). Through Renkin, they established cross-border contacts with resistance fighters in the province of Liège from the organizations Luc /Marc and Clarence such as the doctor Jules Goffin from ’s-Gravenvoeren, Christiane Derenne-Lamazière, the monks father Hugues (Karel Jacobs) and father Étienne (Piet Muhren) from Val-Dieu Abbey and others. Also in the province of Liège, besides former soldiers, parish clergymen were often active. An important contact point was also the gendarmerie in St.-Martensvoeren where Theodoor Brentjens, born in Kessenich on January 12th, 1894, was commander. He then made sure that the former prisoners of war ended up in the Monnikenhof farm that belonged to Val-Dieu Abbey.
    Clarence was primarily an intelligence service. For example, they collected information about the railway traffic around the important junction of Visé. An important security principle especially of Clarence was, that per person only one activity should be developed: either intelligence, or the smuggling of those wanted by the Germans, or helping people to hide. In the case of the group Erkens this was not so strictly adhered to, which would promote their later downfall. Nic Erkens came into contact with this group through Pierre Dresen.
    They were infiltrated by the office Groningen of the German Marineabwehr (counterintelligence service of the German Navy), who set up the deadly “Hannibalspiel” for this purpose. No less than four infiltrators were deployed, who succeeded in penetrating deeper and deeper into the network due to the naivety of Erkens and especially Renkin. After their arrest Erkens in particular had to take the rap.
    On the Dutch side this meant the end of the Erkens group and in Belgium a major blow to the "Luc /Marc" and "Clarence" organizations. In total, the Germans arrested 86 persons from these groups between June 8, 1942 and March 19, 1943. 30 persons were released after a short imprisonment; 18 persons were released after trial; 22 persons were deported to German camps of whom eleven did not survive the war. Eleven persons were sentenced to death and shot on 9 October 1943 in Fort Rhijnauwen (Bunnik, near Utrecht). The fate of five detainees could not be determined (J. van Lieshout, "Het Hannibalspiel", Bussum 1980, pp. 319-324).The Hannibal game of the Marineabwehr (counterintelligence service of the German Navy) in Groningen set an end to the activities of the Erkens group. Those who were sentenced to death were executed at Fort Rhijnauwen (Bunnik, near Utrecht, Netherlands) on october 9th, 1943. (J. van Lieshout, “Het Hannibalspiel”, Bussum 1980, pag. 319-324).

    The strikes of April-May 1943

    The April-May Strikes 1943

    Communiqué of the High Führer of the SS and the police of the provinces of Limburg and North Brabant on the death sentences related to the strike in the mines from April to May 1943.
    On July 1, 1946, a mass grave containing seven bodies was discovered in Wellerlooi (municipality of Bergen) on the Wellse Heide (now the nature reserve Landgoed de Hamert). There an oak wood cross stands on a red brick wall, the resistance monument, as a permanent reminder of the seven resistance fighters Han Boogerd, Bob Bouman, Leendert Brouwer, Pieter Ruyters, Reinier Savelsberg, Meindert Tempelaars and Servaas Toussaint, shot in connection with the strike in 1943.
    In the Dutch coal mining area this strike was called miner’s strike. The actual mining area stretched from Geleen to Kerkrade, but a not inconsiderable number of miners lived outside of it, for example in Valkenburg. In Maastricht, the strike was initiated by government employees. Later bank staff joined in. When the postal workers also wanted to go on strike, the members of the nazi party NSB present forced them to continue working with all sorts of threats. Long queues of people immediately formed in front of all the counters, wanting to buy one single 1-cent stamp. This way the post office was closed too. The factories also joined.
    In the beginning there was a party atmosphere. People flocked to the pubs and didn’t suspect (or didn’t want to think about it) that the occupiers would of course not tolerate this and that there would be victims. These events made it clear that attempts to lure the Dutch with the status of an “Aryan brother nation” had failed.
    The miners’ strike was part of the strikes of April-May 1943. The background was the return of Dutch soldiers to captivity, planned by the occupiers, to be put to work in the German war industry. They were the transition to a more massive resistance movement throughout the Netherlands, including the province of Limburg. The strikes were brutally suppressed, but the resistance organizations gained more new members (perhaps even because of this?). For the majority of Dutch Jews, however, it was already too late. :(

    SiPo Maastricht

    Dutch (foreground) and German prison, Maastricht

    SiPo Maastricht For a better understanding of the events described below, we should have an idea of what happened to the resistance members who fell into the hands of the enemy. Allied soldiers became prisoners of war in such a case. This was already bad, especially for the Russian soldiers. But resisters were terrorists in the eyes of the occupating forces.
    In the Netherlands, the SiPo/SD had its headquarters in The Hague under the command of a Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD (BdS, commander of the security police and security service, see also Wikipedia), with six local offices, called Außenstellen: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Groningen, Arnhem, Den Bosch, and Maastricht. In Limburg, counterterrorism was the responsibility of the Security Police, Sicherheitspolizei of Maastricht. On can be read: “In 1941, the Außenstelle was housed in the so-called White House at the corner of Prins Bisschopssingel and Lambertuslaan. After that they moved until the arrival of the Allied in September 1944 to the house of a deported Jewish family at Wilhelminasingel (today Wilhelminasingel 71) … Especially in the house at Wilhelminasingel cruel scenes took place."
    The Maastricht SiPo was headed by Max Strobel. Some write his name Max Ströbel, e.g. Fred Cammaert. But this is wrong, as we will see below. On this website you will find both spellings, depending on who is quoted. In the fight against the resistance, his right hand man was Richard Nitsch. These two in particular were notorious for their sadism. They often went far beyond what German regulations allowed. The SiPo people were also masters at psychological terror. One notorious incident was the way they made the already overworked and not very resilient document forger Bob Jesse talk. When his interrogator Wehner threatened to break the arms and legs of two Jewish toddlers, a boy and a girl of about four, in the presence of their mother, and even made amove to do so, he talked. For others, other methods worked. We cannot presume to judge those who could not withstand torture, nor can we understand how others did.
    As the Allies approached, Strobel and Nitsch fled to the Dutch province of Friesland, where they continued their reign of terror. In May 1945, disguised as paratroopers and using false names, they surrendered to the Canadians.(Wikipedia) There we also read about Strobel: “Research by journalist Bart Ebisch, grandson of one of the fugitive German’s victims, revealed in 2016 that Dutch attempts to locate Strobel consisted mainly of correspondence between Dutch and German authorities. For example, there was no investigation into whether the German had registered anywhere under any of his known aliases, nor was Strobel’s wife or former colleagues questioned to learn more about his whereabouts.” His wife probably knew where he was all along. Inquiries into German civil registers were the only thing that happened. “In this manhunt, authorities mistakenly searched for a man called Ströbel in sread of Strobel for decades, according to now surfaced court documents.” (De Limburger 05-10-2016)
    Nitsch, however, had to appear in court because his true identity had been established in June 1946. On Wikipedia we read: “He was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment for nine executions and multiple tortures. His sentence was commuted to 22 years and nine months in April 1959. The following year he was released and deported to the Federal Republic (West Germany) as an unwanted alien. This was in line with the Dutch policy at the time to release most war criminals early. Shortly after his release, he and his wife moved in with his son, who lived in Bad Bentheim. Nitsch died in 1990, peacefully falling asleep, probably due to a metabolic disease he had suffered from for several years.”

    The OD trial of Maastricht

    Memorial on the Minderbroedersberg, Maastricht

    In Maastricht, next to the main building of the university, there is a memorial with names and, at the left side of these, the following text: “On this site there was a Franciscan cloister from 1865 to 1970. In 1941, the building was confiscated by the German occupiers and converted into a prison. In April 1942, the OD trial of Maastricht took place in the refectory of the cloister. After being sentenced to death, twenty-four resistance members were taken from here to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp (Germany) and murdered there in the early morning of May 11, 1942. Their names are listed here.”

    Read more …

    The Raid of Weert

    The Raid of Weert, a.k.a. the Betrayal of Weert took place on June 21, 1944. The district leaders of the LO Limburg had convened a meeting in the Sint Louis boarding school in Weert, in order to find an answer to the new Second Distribution Card (T.D.) and the Z-cards. For this meeting they had invited the very competent document forger Bob Jesse (pseudonym: Vos), not knowing that he had been busted in the meantime. When his interrogator Wehner threatened to break the arms and legs of two Jewish toddlers, a boy and a girl of about four years old, in the presence of their mother, and even attempted to do so, he broke down and led the SiPo to the meeting. In total, eight men were arrested by the SiPo:

    • Brother Valentinus Merkx - Teacher and superior of St. Louis, who had nothing to do with anything, by the way. † march 1945 in Bergen-Belsen.
    • Jan Hendrikx (Venlo, province leader) † vermoedelijk begin 1945 tijdens een evacuatietransport van Sachsenhausen naar Bergen-Belsen
    • Guus Hermans (Weert) † september 2, 1944, Oranienburg/Sachsenhausen
    • Giel Berix (Heerlen) † march 13, 1945, Bergen-Belsen
    • Jac Naus (Venlo) † april 15, 1945, Bergen-Belsen
    • Jacques Knops (Gulpen) † march 17, 1945, Bergen-Belsen
    • W.H.M. Jansen (Vierlingsbeek) † february 25, 1945 Buchenwald.
    • Sef (J.F.H.) Mulders (Maastricht). He survived the war, but was succeeded by J. Sorée because Sef was in the concentration camp.

    Tom (Th.C.) van Helvoort (Roermond), Joe (F.J.K.) Russel (Venray), Jan (J.A.) Dijker (Nijmegen *) and Kees van Sambeek (Maas en Waal *) could escape.

    *) The districts of Vierlingsbeek, Nijmegen and Maas en Waal, although outside the province of Limburg, were part of the LO province of Limburg. More info on these districts

    During the month of July and the first half of August the detainees in Vught were interrogated continuously by Nitsch who was authorized to conduct so-called sharpened interrogations. After two weeks he received assistance from C. Schut, who revealed himself to be a devilish sadist without inhibitions, which even went too far for Nitsch. Repeatedly he had to restrain his helper. Especially Knops and the vicars Naus and Berix were badly injured by the two. By bluffing and playing off the arrested persons against each other, by which he cleverly used previously acquired knowledge and contradictory statements, Nitsch found out a lot. Soon new arrests followed in Roermond, Helden and Wittem. (Cammaert VIb, page 567) (Cammaert VIb, pagina 567)
    Read more in Fred Cammaert – Het verborgen front (The Hidden Front) Chapter 6a, §VI, pp.  560 ff.: De overval van Weert

    The Strike of Wittem

    Father B.J. Baars, the head of the Wittem subdistrict of the LO, was the victim of an infiltration in the military hospital in his monastery by a German sergeant, a certain Lambertz from Aachen, who stated that he wanted to desert because he was such a good Christian. At first he was possibly even sincere about it. This infiltration was followed, on July 21, 1944, by a wave of arrests that would soon be called the “Strike of Wittem”: P. Horbach, H.J.D. Hamers, J.M.W. Bisschoff, Father Baars, J.H. van Houtem, Ortmans, the brothers E.A.H.M. and J.M.H. Merckelbach, the man in hiding G. Pirovano, the vicars P.H.H. Houben and L.M.H. Penders and two uninvolved inhabitants of Vaals. The vicars Wermeling and Franck as well as A. Noppeney escaped. J. Merckelbach and the two residents of Vaals were released after a few days. The others were transported from Maastricht to Vught on August 1 and five days later to Sachsenhausen, from where they were distributed among several camps. Only three of the ten prisoners survived the camps. The others died in Germany: H.J.D. Hamers (Oranienburg, 29-12-1944), J.M.W. Bisschoff (Buchenwald, 23-4-1945). B.J. Baars (Bergen-Belsen, 27-4-1945), J.H. van Houtem (Lübeck, 28-5-1945), L.M.H. Penders (Bergen-Belsen, 24-4-1945), P.H.H. Houben (Ludwigslust, 19-5-1945) and E.A.H.M. Merckelbach (Neuengamme, 15-1-1945).

  • The Raid on the Distribution Office in Valkenburg

    By the growing number of divers, their needs could be met only if they also possessed a sufficient amount of ration cards and coupons. Mostly local government officials ensured this, like in Valkenburg. In June 1944, the relative self-sufficiency threatened to come to an abrupt end by the introduction of a new insert sheet. They feared a review at any moment and that they would not manage to correct the deficits in time, which would inevitably lead to their severe punishment. First, the local resistance group tried to have printed new counterfeit cards in Amsterdam, but a German raid in that print shop prevented this solution. Then they decided to attack the distribution office and to establish such a chaos that it would be impossible to control any cards. The K.P. (knokploeg = fighting team) from Heerlen, who would do the job, did not know that a consignment of allocation documents for two months had arrived the day before. The haul was colossal: over 210,000 Bonkaarten (ration cards), about 82,000 ration stamps, over 2500 ration cards, 5000 T.D. master cards, 1600 toeslagkaarten (supplement cards), numerous insert sheets and a typewriter. More than a dozen of jute bags were needed to transport everything. The bags were brought to a farm near Kunrade in Voerendaal.
    The complete story on this raid on this site

    The Treason of Maastricht

    The Treason of Maastricht
    As a result of the betrayal by the brothel madam Aldegonda Zeguers-Boere, more than fifty people were arrested in May 1944. (Cammaert VIb, from page 649.) She was the mistress of Max Strobel, the head of the SiPo (security police) in Maastricht, but at the LO she pretended to work for the resistance at her parties for the Germans. It was Strobel’s intention to set a trap for the resistance fighters. Zeguers-Boere forwarded that a prisoner transport would take place soon. This trap failed due to poor coordination on the resistance side, they did not show up. She then ”mediated” the release of some resistance fighters. During these negotiations LO-leader Jo Lokerman was arrested, and immediately afterwards more than fifty people, including a hider (a so-called diver) that Zeguers-Boere had taken into their home in order to give the impression that she could be fully trusted, as well as the person who had brought the diver to her. Most of those arrested were released after some time. As a result of Zeguers-Boere’s betrayal, the following people died: H. Brouwers, Edmond Houtappel, Prison guard Hubert Jamin, vicar Hein Lochtman, Jo Lokerman and Joseph W. Ummels (Cammaert VIb, page 651).

    The raid on the Maastricht prison on september 5th, 1944

    – The liberation of 80 prisoners.
    Repeatedly, plans were made for a raid on the Maastricht prison, which was under Dutch management. The primary concern was not the living conditions, which continued to deteriorate throughout 1943. However, in helping to improve these living conditions, very useful contacts were made that could be used for the liberation of prisoners. Both the quality and quantity of food decreased, and the cells became more and more overcrowded. Especially in the attics, it was unbearably hot in the summer. The L.O. and its combat groups (KP) did everything in their power to do something about the food shortage. On the night of June 15, 1944, the combat group of Heerlen stole 1,000 kilos of butter from the Limburgia dairy in Reymerstok. A part of it was destined for the prison in Maastricht. To smuggle in food and the like, the assistance of the staff was required. Already at the beginning of the war, in 1941, the Maastricht underground movement was assisted by several prison officials, including the clerk M.J.H. Rademakers and the prison medic Hubert Jamin. Messages and even complete interrogation protocols were smuggled out by them. Threatened arrests could thus be avoided. In 1944, this developed into a nationwide intricated intelligence service.
    Plans for a liberation action began in late 1943, when a number of resisters from all parts of the province were arrested through infiltration by H. Vastenhout and others. However, one day before the action, those arrested were transferred to Amersfoort.
    In early 1944, new plans were made as a result of waves of arrests in Venlo and Maastricht. After a failed attempt caused by insufficient coordination (fortunately, because it was a trap), things went wrong again on April 8, 1944, as the prisoners had already been transferred to Amersfoort the day before. Among them was Frans Coehorst, district courier and secretary to “Ambrosius”, who thus knew a lot about the resistance.
    They did not let these setbacks get them down. In June 1944, the first attempt was made to free the prisoners with the help of guards and the prison manager. This failed because the manager Dilling did not dare. On Monday evening, September 4, the head of the unified battle groups of South Limburg, P.F. Driessen, and police inspector M. Krol went to Dilling to demand the release of all political prisoners still present. Dilling said that the most important political prisoners had been taken away in the meantime, but that he would come to the prison at 5 o’clock the next morning. The South Limburg KP and some Maastricht LO members would also be present.
    Since it was Dolle Dinsdag (Mad Tuesday), there was no resistance from the Nazis present. A group of about twelve people freed eighty prisoners. About half of them were acquainted with the city and sought their own way. About ten people were taken to a private house. Unforeseen problems arose with the remaining thirty. They were housed in a school building where homeless people were also staying. These were afraid of discovery and reprisals from the German side and demanded the withdrawal of the liberated prisoners. They then ended up in a patronage building in the neighborhood, from where they were dispersed onto several hiding places. (Source: Cammaert VIa, page 530 ff.)

    Between Maas and Peel

    Between Maas and Peel

    During the occupation, the villages on the west bank of the Meuse, such as Sevenum and Horst, were, from the point of view of the LO in Venlo, “outlets” par excellence for people who had to hide themselves, the so called “divers”. They were small, closed agricultural communities. Also larger villages like Venray and Horst were much smaller than today.
    Read the story of the area between Maas and Peel during the war.
    Open Street Map

    The LO leader from Venlo "Ambrosius" was quickly convinced of the way in which in the area between the river Meuse and the Peel moorland, especially in Sevenum, help for those in hiding was organized. The following is a brief summary from Het verborgen front (The Hidden Front) by Fred Cammaert 1994
    Chapter VIb, VIII.2.5. Rayon Sevenum.

    A headquarters was established at the Groot family’s farm "Rust Roest" in Sevenum. Numerous people in hiding, including more than a hundred Jews, found shelter in Sevenum alone. According to the manipulated harvest statistics, Sevenum officially suffered from constant crop failures. In reality, shiploads of grain were distributed throughout the country to supply those in hiding and others who needed it. The security police in Maastricht did not succeed in getting a handle on this, and labeled Horst and Sevenum "hotbeds of resistance." Nothing ever came to light during raids. An O.D. man had established a secret telephone connection between Venlo and Den Bosch through Sevenum, which also the L.O. could use. In Sevenum there was a tripod from which a piece of rail was suspended. When it was struck, a high-pitched, penetrating sound could be heard. So one always knew in time when a raiding party was approaching.
    The first major raid was carried out by the SiPo on April 5, 1944, due to the activities of NSB member W. Engels. Although his regular letters to the German authorities were always intercepted at the post office, but he still eventually managed to pass on his discoveries.
    Towards the end of the war, the character of the raids changed. More and more it was about hunting slaves for the German industry. At the same time, the German army command did not want to be attacked from behind by the population when the Allies advanced. Therefore, all able-bodied men had to go away to Germany, just as later (Christmas 1944) in Roermond. The means they adopted for this purpose was well suited for this pious region: the church raid. On Sunday, October 8, 1944, such church raids took place throughout North Limburg, which was not yet liberated by then, and in parts of North Brabant. South Limburg was already free by then. 2,805 men between the ages of 16 and 65 were arrested. Most were employed in the Hermann Göring-Werke. The majority of them survived the war. This was not the case for 121 of those arrested. Most of the other deportees did not return home until May 1945. (Source: Dwangarbeid in Duitsland, Forced Labor in Germany).
    The raids had a great impact on the whole population and thus promoted solidarity. In Het grote gebod, LO-LIMBURG (by Drs L.E.M.A. van Hommerich) we read on p. 324: “When the Germans held a raid near Vierlingsbeek on one side of the Meuse, everyone who had a boat came with it onto the river to bring the persecuted to the other side. In Maasbree the population was warned of danger from the enemy by the position of the wings of the windmill.”

    Text on the memorial at the Peelstraat, Kronenberg (Horst aan de Maas):
    In memory of the men and boys from Kronenberg, who were kidnapped by the Germans during the Church raid of October 8, 1944 and died in Germany. The reburial of some of them took place on September 4th, 1951. Martin Aerts, Jozef Baeten, Piet Billekens, Lodewijk Franssen, Hendrik Hoeijmakers, Piet Philipsen, Jan Philipsen, Peter Roodbeen, Jan Verstappen

    See the report on the church raid in Kronenberg.
    Read more on the background of this slave hunt at Sevenum, sporen die bleven (Sevenum, traces that remained).
    See also at Wikipedia NL about the church raids in North Limburg and parts of North Brabant.
    In the chapel of the Resistance Memorial of the Province of Limburg, the fallen from these places are listed with their church villages (i.e. not Brabant villages):
    Broekhuizen & Broekhuizenvorst, Grubbenvorst, Haelen, Heel-Panheel, Helden, Heythuysen, Horst, Kessel, Maasbree, Nederweert, Roggel, Sevenum, Wessem

    A military training camp for people in hiding

    When in 1943 the great majority of the students did not want to sign the declaration of loyalty and when also because of this more and more young men wanted to go into hiding in the area between the Meuse and the Peel, some former soldiers from the OD in Venlo came up with the idea of training them to get soldiers. They had in mind a sort of partisan commando that would be able to hide well in this wooded area. The choice for one of these camps was the forest Bovensbos near Helden, see Open Street Map near the farm of Cornelis Krans.
    From Cammaert’s dissertation, Chapter VIII De Ordedienst, p. 883: The Diver’s Camps in Helden and Sevenum you can read a short summary here.

    Cornelis Krans provided five demountable chicken coops that had room for 40 to 50 recruits. The camp was given the name "Vrij Nederland." Because of the large number of people in the know, some of whom seemed to regard the camp rather as a sort of summer camp, rumors soon began to make the rounds. N.S.B. man H. Kessels also heard them and biked there on Thursday, July 15, 1943. Some farm workers showed him the way because he said he also wanted to go into hiding. He found what he was looking for and talked about it with his party comrades Kluytmans and Maessen. A day later he filed a complaint with the police. Constable Evers, a friend of the Resistance, promised to take care of it the next day and immediately sounded the alarm. It was decided to liquidate Kessels as soon as possible. This happened immediately: on the night of Friday, July 16, to Saturday, July 17, he was shot and his body was left there for unknown reasons. This made everything even worse. The SiPo (SicherheitsPolizei, security police) from Maastricht, led by Max Strobel/Ströbel, started an investigation and learned from Kluytmans about Kessel’s discovery.The chief of police in Helden-Panningen Alphons van der Mullen, informed the resistance that a large-scale raid was imminent. While waiting for reinforcements from the Ordnungspolizei, the SiPo people arrested the Krans couple and several other people, including the Jewish De Jong family of Nijmegen, who were in an underground hiding place near the farm. They and Cornelis Krans did not survive the war.
    Just over the Belgian border, a similar initiative emerged. Also there started by soldiers: Secret Army Zone II/Limburg. That didn’t go well either, as you can read there. In this densely populated part of Europe, resistance in small, relatively independently operating groups was much more effective and secure.

    There were also some camps for people in hiding in the Schadijk woods (Open Street Map) near Horst, but they were not designed as military training camps.

    The Tears of Roermond

    After the liberation of South Limburg and the area west of the Maas River and the failed Battle of Arnhem, the Maas River in Central and North Limburg remained the front line for the time being. In Roermond, when it had been front city for over a month - arrived in the night of 25 to 26 November the depleted 1st battalion of the parachute regiment Kampfgruppe Hübner. The commander Ulrich Matthaeas became city commander (Ortskommandant) and because the west side of the Maas was liberated territory, he also became front section commander (Frontabschnitts­kommandant). A grim atmosphere immediately developed in the city. He and one of his subordinates, F.W. Held, practiced true terror there in December. The soldiers knew, of course, that the war was unwinnable and that they were hated. There was nothing left of the friendly face that the occupiers had initially put on. Most of the police were less and less willing to cooperate with their terror. At the same time, the demand for forced laborers in Germany was increasing. Matthaeas and one of his subordinates, F.W. Held, exercised downright terror in December. The hunt for people in hiding was also intensified for another reason. The Major had had a panic fear of partisans since his stay in Russia. When the Allies would cross the Meuse River, he feared being attacked from behind. Therefore, he sought an opportunity to get rid of the entire male population of “recruitable” age. That opportunity presented itself around Christmas 1944. By betrayal a hiding place of eleven Roermonders came to light, who were hiding under the floor of a classroom at the Schoolpath. One young man, Jacobus Sevenich, managed to escape.
    The remaining ten and two other detainees had to appear before a hastily assembled drumhead court-martial. The verdict was decided in advance: death by bullet.Because it was not about their withdrawal from the labor service or other so-called offenses such as listening to the BBC. It was about terror as a means to get the men and boys out of Roermond and furthermore to make them slaves. On December 26 and 27, 1944, the 14 were shot in the Elmpterbos just across the German border near Roermond: Louis Claessens, Frans Denis, Josef Fuchs, Johannes Hanno, Lambertus Janssens, Willem Jongen, Thijs Oljans, Wicher Oljans, Hubertus Selder, Mathieu Sevenich, Jan Tobben, Louis Uphus (later reburied on the National Field of Honor in Loenen), Willem Winters and ‘Frans’, an escaped Polish prisoner of war.
    Cammaert writes in chapter 6b, on pages 621-622: “The twelve innocents were sentenced to death for ‘illegal activities’. That same day Matthaeas had them shot in the woods between Roermond and the German border village of Elmpt. The next day he had two more people, including a Pole, executed there. After the proclamation of the verdict and the order that all male inhabitants of Roermond and Maasniel aged between 16 and 60 had to register with the Ortskommandantur before December 30, 4:00 p.m. under penalty of death, a wave of horror swept through the city. As a result, about 2800 Roermonders showed up. On December 30 they were forced to march in the freezing cold to Dülken, where they had to spend the night standing in the cycling arena in the open air. The next day they were taken by train to Wuppertal for forced labor in the German war industry.

    On the old cemetery near the Kapel in ’t Zand, popularly called the Aje Kirkhaof, a memorial stone permanently commemorates this dark event known as ‘het verdriet van Roermond’, the tears of Roermond.
    Just across the border, near the site of the executions, citizens from Niederkrüchten erected the memorial stone pictured above (Mahnmal Lüsekamp).

    Other the people in hiding also became victims of this manhunt. See the story of the “divers” at the farm Lindenhof.

    Revenge actions during the liberation

    The intention of this website is to keep alive the memory on the history of the occupation in Limburg and especially in Valkenburg. Honor to whom honor is due, but not in the form of unreflective hero worship. For example, there were resistance fighters with anti-Semitic resentment, although they also helped Jews. But another story is that after the liberation, suddenly people who pretended to be in the resistance appeared everywhere and started to carry out disgusting acts of revenge "in the name of the resistance." How was this possible?
    The first Dutch city to be liberated was Maastricht. There was an organization of Dutch soldiers who had been demobilized by the Germans and called themselves Ordedienst. Their goal was to fill the power vacuum when the German troops would disappear and the Allies had not yet arrived. Their common motive was fear of a communist seizure of power. There were OD groups that also resisted during the occupation, such as the very active group around fire department commander Charles Bongaerts in Heerlen. But there were also those who explicitly did NOT want to resist and focused only on the days of liberation. Therefore, the OD as a whole cannot be considered as resistance.
    Bizarre was the situation in Maastricht. During the liberation there were two and at times even three competing OD groups (under the motto: We are the only real ones!). Since they all hoped to be accepted into the Dutch army, they started a massive and very uncritical recruitment policy. They did not notice that even criminals, who were only interested in weapons, also joined them. And although the veteran OD leadership had unequivocally called on the population and their own new members to refrain from revenge actions, that is exactly what happened immediately. What should have been an orderly arrest of collaborators got completely out of hand. Not only were retarded Nazis rounded up, but also girls and women who were suspected of having something going on with a German, or simply because they were German. Some had even worked for the resistance and used their German citizenship to hide people under the guise of being loyal party members. After liberation, some escaped camp imprisonment only with the help of Jews rescued by them or of genuine resistance fighters. See the dissertation by Barbara Henkes at the University of Amsterdam from 1995: Heimat in Holland: Duitse dienstmeisjes (German maids) 1920-1950. ed. Babylon-De Geus. on p. 198. But these vengeful people obviously did not understand anything. When we look at the many photos of the shaving of so-called Moffenhoeren (Jerry whores), we immediately notice the grinning faces of the bystanders. This had nothing to do with the fight for freedom and against discrimination during the occupation, even if sometimes real resistance fighters were involved. In Valkenburg, a real resistance fighter was rescued at the last minute, who had been very successful during the war in stealing ration cards and other documents for the many people in hiding in the distribution office, but always pretending to have brown sympathies.He was almost "executed" by a bunch of morons who pretended to be resistance fighters even though they were still half children. Two of his L.O. colleagues, Pierre Schunck and Jan van Westerhoven (Father Ferdinand sscc), managed to convince them that this would be a big mistake. Less fortunate was a true collaborator, 26-year-old landwacht member Funs Savelberg. The landwacht (land guard) was an auxiliary police force made up of Dutch Nazis. Someone claimed that Savelberg had been sentenced to death by an American court-martial. A US officer present said, “Kill him!” and one of these self-proclaimed OD people was now oh so proud to be among the victors after all. The real culprit for this murder is the one who spread the lie about the conviction. The officer present who did not check it out is also complicit. But the resistance was certainly not to blame in this case. The shooter was acquitted after the war because he had acted in good faith.
    For more on the background of this murder, see The Murder of the Land Guard and What were the L.O, K.P., O.D. and R.V.V. organizations? about the three organizations from which the BS (Domestic Forces) were to be built up. Both on this website, as you can see from the red color of the links. You can get back here with the back button, on the left, under the flags.

Het verborgen front (The Hidden Front) History of the organised resistance against nazi occupation in the Dutch province Limburg during World War II. Plus excerpt in English. Since its publication, this doctoral thesis has been THE standard work when it is about the Limburg Resistance. Also on this site a lot of information is taken from it.

  • Resistance in Valkenburg

    Resistance in Valkenburg The whole story, through the eyes of contemporary witnesses..
    Sources etc.

  • External links

    Links List Resistance WW2

    Digital name memorial Oranjehotel Pagina is in het Nederlands
    It is one of the most frequently asked questions: who was imprisoned in the Orange Hotel? Unfortunately, there is no complete list of all prisoners. Much of the prison records were destroyed by the German occupiers shortly before the liberation.
    See also Oranjehotel & Waalsdorpervlakte82

    Jan van Lieshout, Het Hannibalspiel Pagina is in het Nederlands Seite auf Deutsch verfügbar Page available in English Page disponible en Français;
    A sinister game during World War II of the counterintelligence service of the Kriegsmarine (Marineabwehr), which led to the downfall of three Dutch-Belgian resistance groups, ISBN 10: 9026945744 ISBN 13: 978902694574880

    Loenen Field of Honour Pagina is in het Nederlands Seite auf Deutsch verfügbar Page available in English Page disponible en Français;
    Over 3,900 war victims are buried at Loenen Field of Honour and include those who lost their lives in different places around the world due to various circumstances. There are military personnel, members of the resistance, people who escaped the Netherlands and went to England during the first years of the WWII to join the Allies (‘Engelandvaarders’), victims of reprisal and forced labour and …79

    Markante feiten in Limburg tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog Pagina is in het Nederlands
    Remarkable facts in (Belgian) Limburg during the Second World War
    Anyone who thinks that hardly any resistance took place in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium should definitely read this document. The emphasis is on the armed resistance. Author: Mathieu Rutten.78

    Stichting Struikelstenen Valkenburg Pagina is in het Nederlands
    Also 45 Jews deported from Valkenburg did not return. The Stichting Struikelstenen Valkenburg (“Foundation Stumbling Stones Valkenburg”) was established to place so-called stumbling stones in the sidewalk in front of the house from which they were deported, in memory of the murdered Jews from Valkenburg. With a complete list.
    See also Stolperstein on Wikipedia.77

    Roermond Front City Pagina is in het Nederlands
    Series of stories by Eric Munnicks about the last months of the war.
    See also the other War Stories of the Roermond Municipal Archives. Unfortunately no translation available. 76

    Limburg 75 jaar vrij Pagina is in het Nederlands

    Belgium WWII Pagina is in het Nederlands Seite auf Deutsch verfügbar Page disponible en Français;
    A virtual platform on Belgium and its inhabitants during the Second World War74

    Former concentration camp Natzweiler-Struthof, Alsace Seite auf Deutsch verfügbar Page available in English Page disponible en Français;
    European Centre of Deported Resistance Members. Camp and museum73

    The Jewish Victims of National Socialism in Cologne | A–Z Seite auf Deutsch verfügbar

    Documentation Center on the National-Socialism in Cologne Pagina is in het Nederlands Seite auf Deutsch verfügbar Page available in English Page disponible en Français;
    Virtual visit of the museum and the memorial in 8 languages, amongst them Hebrew and Spanish71

    Camp Vught National Memorial Pagina is in het Nederlands Seite auf Deutsch verfügbar Page available in English Page disponible en Français;
    The Camp Vught National Memorial (Nationaal Monument Kamp Vught) is located on a part of the former SS camp Konzentrationslager Herzogenbusch, also known as Camp Vught (January 1943 – September 1944).70

    The Margraten Boys - About the US War Cemetery Page available in English
    Harrowing and redeeming, this is the history of a unique ‘adoption’ system. For generations, local families, grateful for the sacrifice of their liberators from Nazi occupation, have cared for not only the graves, but the memories, of over 10,000 US soldiers in the cemetery of Margraten in the Netherlands.
    Free e-book by Peter Schrijvers. More e-books on WWII, in English and Dutch, by this author:

    The Jewish Monument Pagina is in het Nederlands Page available in English
    Every victim of the Holocaust who was murdered is memorialised on the Joods Monument with a personal profile. The Jewish Monument is not only suitable for searching and commemorating. You can supplement the monument with photos, documents and stories, by making family connections and adding members of families. To place a call and get in touch with other users. You can also add information about stumbling stones and important other external links.67

    When the miners go on strike against the German occupiers Pagina is in het Nederlands
    The mine strike in Limburg started on April 29th, 1943. The workload was rising and rising. The first Dutch men were forced to work in Germany. The immediate reason was General Christiansen’s order to arrest all released prisoners of war from the Dutch army again and to transport them to Germany. The strike is broken up by means of executions.66

    Persecuted in Limburg Pagina is in het Nederlands
    Jews and Sinti in Dutch Limburg during the Second World War
    ISBN 978-90-8704-353-7
    Dissertation by Herman van Rens on 03/22/2013, University of Amsterdam, slightly edited
    © 2013 Hilversum65

    Ons verblijf in het dorp Mergel (dagboek) (Meerssen 1989) Pagina is in het Nederlands
    Our stay in the village of Mergel (diary, Meerssen 1989
    Joop Geijsen from Meerssen tells how he and two other boys went into hiding for a year in the limestone caves just outside Meerssen, which was later called the diver’s inn.
    As far as we know, sold out and only available in Dutch libraries.64

    Yad Vashem Seite auf Deutsch verfügbar Page available in English Page disponible en Français;
    The World Holocaust Remembrance Center63

    Beelden van verzet Pagina is in het Nederlands
    This book shows, how every Dutch generation deals differently with the past of resistance.
    If you can read Dutch, you can find the download link for this essay by Sander Bastiaan Kromhout
    Published by the Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 May, 2018
    Print edition ISBN 9077294244.62

    Regional Historic Center Limburg Pagina is in het Nederlands Page available in English
    Limburg has numerous specialized archive institutions that preserve relevant historical sources concerning World War II. However, it is not always clear to the public for which information they can go where. Archives have overlapping work areas, organizations and people have been active in the past in different areas and in different fields. So it often takes a long time to find the right place to find information.
    Here you can search, but also share your documents with other interested parties. This can be done by donating them to existing archives or museums, or by making digital copies of the available documents or images.61

    War deads in Nijmegen 1940 - 1945 Pagina is in het Nederlands
    With search function60

    Foundation Dutch Resistance Monument Pagina is in het Nederlands Seite auf Deutsch verfügbar Page available in English Page disponible en Français;
    Names of resistance fighters in the Netherlands and colonies during the Second World War59

    La résistance durant la guerre 1940-1945 Page disponible en Français;
    It is mainly about the network “Clarence” whose founder was Walther Dewez; evoked are also the names of various agents of Visé and the Fourons that were part of this movement.58

    Fallen resistance people Maastricht Pagina is in het Nederlands
    A brief description and a long gallery of portraits57

    Stichting Herinnering LO-LKP Pagina is in het Nederlands
    The foundation remembrance of LO-LKP wants to raise awareness of the history of the resistance by the organisations LO and LKP. To this end, she makes the contents of his memorial book and many original documents available to the interested reader in digital form.56

    The Forgotten Genocide – The Fate of the Sinti and Roma Pagina is in het Nederlands Seite auf Deutsch verfügbar Page available in English
    Also known as Gipsies.55

    1944-2019 ⇒ South Limburg 75 years free! ⇐ Pagina is in het Nederlands
    An overview of the activities in South Limburg around this memorable anniversary in september. It is celebrated in every municipality.54

    Short historic American film about the Divers Inn Pagina is in het Nederlands
    A silent film, shot by a USAmerican team after the liberation of Valkenburg. The first part has been re-enacted, with the help of the Valkenburg resistance. It shows how people going into hiding (divers) were taken to the divers inn. The man in the hat is always Pierre Schunck. The film starts at his home in Plenkertstraat, Valkenburg. The role of the policeman on the bike at the start is not entirely clear. According to the accompanying text, this is a courier.53

    Database persoonsbewijzen uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog Pagina is in het Nederlands
    About Dutch identity cards in the Second World War as well as images of identity cards in combination with other documents and genealogical and personal data including life stories.49

    Memorial stone for the resistance people Coenen and Francotte Pagina is in het Nederlands
    In front of the Provincial Resistance Monument in Valkenburg. Here the underground fighters Sjeng (John) Coenen and Joep (Joe) Francotte were murdered on 5 September 1944, just before the liberation of Valkenburg48

    Resistance Memorial of the dutch province of Limburg Pagina is in het Nederlands
    Every year on May 4, the commemoration ceremony for the fallen of this province takes place here. Meanwhile, also the veterans are no longer among us anymore.47

    Call to everyone, but especially to the residents of Valkenburg Pagina is in het Nederlands
    On September 17, 2019 it will be 75 years ago that the town and all villages of the current municipality of Valkenburg aan de Geul were liberated.
    To commemorate the liberation and to display the wartime as accurately as possible, the Museum Land van Valkenburg is looking for personal stories, eye witnesses and tangible memories.
    Of all these lifelike stories, materials, photos, footage and equipment, we are organizing a unique and as complete as possible overview exhibition under the name “We Do Remember”46

    Roll of honor of the fallen, 1940 - 1945 Pagina is in het Nederlands
    A website commissioned by the dutch Second Chamber (~ House of Representatives). The Honor Roll of Fallen 1940-1945 includes those who fell as a result of resistance or as a soldier.45

    Grenzeloos verzet Pagina is in het Nederlands
    Borderless resistance – On Spying Monks, escape lines and the “Hannibal Game”, 1940-1943
    ISBN 9789056220723
    Paul de Jongh describes in detail an escape line from the Netherlands to Belgium. Unique case study on the resistance in World War II on both sides of the Belgian-Dutch border. Focus is on the Belgian side. Extends the book by Cammaert, especially where it concerns the group Erkens in Maastricht.44

    The hidden front Pagina is in het Nederlands Page available in English
    History of the organized resistance in the Dutch province of Limburg during World War II
    PhD thesis 1994, by CAMMAERT, Alfred Paul Marie.
    The complete book in Dutch, with English summary, on the website of the University of Groningen.
    Core literature!43

    Forgotten History – Pierre Schunck, Resistance Fighter Page available in English

    Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog Pagina is in het Nederlands
    The Kingdom of the Netherlands in World War II (Downlod PDF)41

    World War II in South Limburg Pagina is in het Nederlands
    Very many pictures ordered by municipality. For Valkenburg: many pictures from the Nazi boarding school for boys Reichsschule der SS (former Jesuit convent) and from the days of liberation, by Frans Hoffman.40

    Sources Network on World War II (NOB) Pagina is in het Nederlands
    Search in 9 million documents, movies and pictures about and from World War II in the Netherlands.39

    Institute for Studies on War, Holocaust and Genocide Pagina is in het Nederlands Page available in English
    Institute for Studies on War, Holocaust and Genocide
    Issues related to war violence generate a lot of interest from society and demand independent academic research. NIOD conducts and stimulates such research and its collections are open to all those who are interested.38

    Limburg gaf joden WOII meeste kans Pagina is in het Nederlands
    Dutch Jews had the best chance of going into hiding and surviving the Holocaust in the province of Limburg. This is apparent from the dissertation on the persecution of Jews and Sinti in Limburg during the Second World War by the historian from Beek, Herman van Rens at the University of Amsterdam.
    More info in Dutch36

    Tweede Wereldoorlog en bijzondere rechtspleging Pagina is in het Nederlands
    About the trials of Dutchmen who collaborated with the occupiers: The so-called special administration of justice. This page shows you the way. Here you will find photos, the most used keywords, references to interesting archives, indexes, websites, personal stories and guides for research.35

    Nederlands Auschwitz Comité Pagina is in het Nederlands

    Secret Army Zone II/Limburg Pagina is in het Nederlands
    About the failed attempt to set up a complete guerrilla army in Belgian Limburg. Use the built-in translator20

    resistance in Enschede Pagina is in het Nederlands Page available in English

    30th Infantry Division Old Hickory Page available in English
    Liberators of South-Limburg17

    Bond van Oud-Stoottroepers en Stoottroepers Pagina is in het Nederlands

    The Dutch Underground and the Stoottroepers Page available in English
    Stoottroepen (Stormtroopers) consisted of the ancient resistant fighters who entered in the Dutch army after the liberation of Limburg, to participate in the war against the fascism.15