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Open Features: Holland During The War Years - 5

"A feeling of relief, joy and freedom pervaded. It had been such a long time...''

Aloysius Joosten tells of the ending of the German occupation of Holland.

On the morning of 10 April 1945 rumours were circulating about liberation.

The sound of approaching tanks was like music to our ears. Tanks of the Allies, manned by Polish troops who spoke German, had arrived. Not everyone was prepared for this. A wedding was being conducted, but, as the tanks rolled in, the chaplain advised all and sundry to show some gratitude at this most important occasion. Luckily the marriage vows had already been made at the beginning of the Mass!

The tanks rolled in and their crews were welcomed in the streets by waving crowds. It was a major event. We had endured five years of misery to experience this.

Many people walked alongside the tanks. There was a delay at the drawbridge in Munsterseveld. A Jeep drove alongside, on it a slightly wounded German soldier. Although the tanks had to transverse the canal they did not dare cross the bridge. They were of the opinion that it was not strong enough.

Mr Hoge, who was the interpreter, thought that the bridge was safe, but the soldiers would not risk it. He then agreed with them. He said: “I must not allow you to have an accident.”

The tanks then proceeded to move alongside the western side of the canal. People were crowded on these tanks. About 1 km away they again stopped at a swinging bridge. However, this was also deemed risky as this was the bridge used by the farmers to transport their produce. From that distance German houses could be seen.

Hennie Wortelboer, one of the sons of Bernard and aunt Catrien, who could speak German, pointed out a customs office. With that they turned the turrets of the tanks in that direction and flattened out the building. Hennie, giving directions, accompanied the tanks into Germany.

A feeling of relief, joy and freedom pervaded. It had been such a long time.

The Dutch who had collaborated with the Germans began to feel uneasy. They had chosen the wrong side by supporting Hitler and his annihilation of the Jews. They had rejected their homeland as they visualized a great “German Reich.”

Although “liberated”, the war with Germany was not yet over. The German Command in the Netherlands had not yet capitulated.

Finally, on 5 May 1945, peace was officially declared in the Netherlands. Surrender papers were signed at 16h00* in the Hotel de Nederlanden in Wageningen.

*”WORLD WAR 11 – DAY BY DAY” by Donald Summerville states the following:
10 April 1945
Western Front. Hanover falls to the US X111 Corps from Ninth Army. Canadian* forces are beginning to put pressure on the German positions in Holland. They begin operations to cross the river Ijssel.”

Western Front. Doenitz sends envoys to Montgomery’s headquarters at Luneberg Heath and they agree on the surrender of German forces in Holland, Denmark and north Germany.
The surrender becomes effective at 0800* on 5 May

©Aloysius Joosten 2013

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