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World War II

New insider book reveals role of ‘armed support service’

Dutch wartime resistance work focused on hiding people


Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill World War II

How does one organize the disappearance of over 300,000 people 1) with as few people as possible noticing they have ‘moved away?’ How does one find hiding places for that many people without neighbours in a densely populated country becoming aware of strangers living next door or down the street? How does one supply food for that many unregistered roommates or illegal guests in a society where everything has been tightly regulated with ration cards, stamps, identification papers and various permits, all enforced by a highly efficient bureaucracy and by brute force?

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Liberation Day event features WWII underground worker Eman


Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill World War II

CAMBRIDGE, Ontario – Elderly World War II Dutch resistance veteran Diet Eman, whose experiences were published in the book Things We Couldn’t Say, and filmed in the dvd The Reckoning will return to Southwestern Ontario to speak at the Cambridge Liberation Day commemoration on May 10.

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Eijsden farm first Dutch home liberated by American soldiers

On September 12, 1944


Tags: World War II

EIJSDEN, the Netherlands - A farmstead in this southern-most Limburg community became the first Dutch home to be liberated in 1944. In the early dawn hours of September 12, residents at the Muggehof farm saw approaching U.S. Army soldiers, who earlier had crossed the nearby Meuse river. The Smeets family was told to seek temporary shelter elsewhere as the soldiers expected heavy fighting.

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First liberated Zeeland town

Canadian troops honoured at memorial in Sas van Gent


Tags: World War II

SAS VAN GENT, the Netherlands - The citizenry of this strategic Zeeland town on the Belgian border recently commemorated the 60th anniversary of their liberation from Nazi occupation.

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For exhibit on Canadian fathers

Museum seeks war veterans married to Rotterdam women


Tags: World War II

ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands - The local War and Resistance Museum is planning a number of exhibits to tie in with the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands. One of the events has the tentative title 'My father was a Canadian.'

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Two Apeldoorn men honoured for Canadian war veteran causes

Canada’s Meritorious Service Medals go abroad


Tags: World War II

OTTAWA - Community activists Klaas Huisman and Jan Koorenhof will receive the Meritorious Service Medal from the Canadian government in a ceremony this Fall. The two men from the central Dutch city of Apeldoorn will join four countrymen who have received the medal in the past.

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Missing soldier reburied 55 years after death in Dutch meadow

Costly Battle of Kapelle Crossing back in the news


Tags: World War II

HARRIETSVILLE, Ontario - Most Dutchmen in their occupied territory at the time were unaware that Allied troops in the bitterly cold winter of 1944/5 for two months tried to dislodge a tenaciously held, German bridgehead on the south banks of a branch of the river Meuse. The conflict - very costly in casualties, especially for Allies - entered WWII history books as The Battle of the Kapelle Crossing (Kapelse Veer). It recently turned into a battle of wills between a Canadian Regiment and the department of Veteran Affairs, over attendance at a reburial of the remains of a January 1945 Canadian casualty. In the meantime, the mystery of Victor Howey's disappearance finally has been solved.

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Border area museums to preserve World War II recollections

Dutch-German project


Tags: World War II

ARNHEM - Seven museums in the Dutch-German border region between Arnhem and Wesel want to collect eyewitness accounts from the war years, especially from those after September 1944. The cross-border project has been named ‘60 Years Freedom.’

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Wartime child-refugee Goslins returns from U.S. to award ceremony with daughter

Elderly widow inducted in Yad Vashem


Tags: World War II

HAULERWIJK, the Netherlands - Sixty years of family history for the From and Goslinski families recently came full circle. Wide publicity now sharply contrasted the secrecy of the early 1940s, when three-year old Martin (then Tino) Goslinski was placed in hiding with Roelof and Anna From (now 92). The Froms in a public ceremony were awarded Israel’s Yad Vashem, the Righteous among the Nations designation.

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Germans gradually turned screws on occupied country (1945-1949)

Chronology of Dutch war-time history


Tags: World War II

Go to Part One.

1945 | May 1945 | 1946-1949

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Missing soldier reburied 55 years after death in Dutch meadow

Costly Battle of the Kapelle Crossing back in the news


Tags: World War II

HARRIETSVILLE, Ontario - Most Dutchmen in their occupied territory at the time were unaware that Allied troops in the bitterly cold winter of 1944/5 for two months tried to dislodge a tenaciously held, German bridgehead on the south banks of a branch of the river Meuse. The conflict - very costly in casualties, especially for Allies - entered WWII history books as The Battle of the Kapelle Crossing (Kapelse Veer). It recently turned into a battle of wills between a Canadian Regiment and the Department of Veteran Affairs over attendance at a reburial of the remains of a January 1945 Canadian casualty. In the meantime, the mystery of Victor Howey’s disappearance finally has been solved.

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Veterans ‘Prinses Irene Brigade’ help celebrate unit’s 60th anniversary

Replaced since by Guard Regiment


Tags: World War II

OIRSCHOT, the Netherlands - Some 2,000 veterans of the Garde Regiment Fusiliers Prinses Irene and its predecessors recently joined Irene van Lippe - a younger sister of Queen Beatrix - in ceremonies to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the unit. Founded on January 27, 1941 as the Koninklijke Neder-landse Brigade, it was decommissioned in 1945. Its traditions were continued a year later by the newly formed Regiment Prinses Irene.

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Foundation cares for 50,000 Dutch war graves in over fifty-five countries

All 175,000 casualties of war listed in commemorative books


Tags: World War II

THE HAGUE - Remembering their 175,000 victims of war has been an annual event for the Dutch ever since the Second World War ended in May 1945. The Netherlands continues to commemorate its fallen and casualties on the eve of May 5th with silent walks by civilians and official programs all over the country. Graves, particularly those at Allied war cemeteries often are tended to by children. Schools throughout the country on a rotating bases adopt for a year local war monuments and keep them tidy.

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Local historian reconstructs 1944 bombing of Zeeland’s coastal dikes

Westkapelle lost 159 people in air raid


Tags: World War II

WESTKAPELLE, the Netherlands - An bombing raid now fifty-six years ago, remains a subject of keen interest to the residents of the strategically located island of Walcheren. On October 3, 1944, the earth in and around the Zeeland coastal village of Westkapelle shook when Allied bombs aimed at nearby North Sea dikes detonated. The purpose of Operation Infatuate was to breach the Walcheren’s dikes as a prelude to battle with the Germans who on the island controlled the approach to the port of Antwerp. The bombing which took the lives of 159 inhabitants of Westkapelle, later was repeated at Vlissingen and Rammekens.

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Chinese civil war helps consolidate Japanese claims on Mainland (II)

Coup places island nation under military rule


Tags: World War II

Continued from: Part (I)

1950

Jan 23, 1950 Ex-KNIL-captain Westerling enters Bandung with 600 rebels, captures local Indonesian army headquarters. Remaining Dutch units of 7 December Divisie watch from sidelines while commander Engels mediates Westerling's withdrawal. Indonesian government wants Westerling arrested.
Apr 22 East Indonesia's chief-prosecutor and former minister of justice, Sumokil, disappears without a trace.
Apr 24 On Ambon, Ir. Manusama issues declaration of independence for South Moluccas.
May 19 The Indonesian army agrees to the terms of a centralized Republik Indonesia.
Jun 20 Tjililitan, the last Dutch airbase in the former Dutch East Indies, transfers to the Indonesian authorities.
Jun 25 North Korean troops cross the 38th parallel into South Korea.
Jun 27 North Koreans enter Seoul. Americans promise assistance to beleaguered South Korean government.
Jun 30 American navy begins blockade of Korea, US troops thrown into action.
Jul 04 Dutch naval unit sent to Korean coast.
Jul 14 Dutch military court tries soldiers who helped Westerling attack Bandung; sentences up to one year in jail.
Jul 17 Indonesian army lands on island of Buru in a drive to suppress rebellion in the Moluccas.
Jul 26 In a royal decree, Queen Juliana orders the Netherlands Royal East Indies Army (KNIL) disbanded after 120 years of service. In 1941, 3200 officers and 73,000 regulars served in the KNIL. The Netherlands agree to take in 12,000 Amboinese KNIL soldiers and their families while Ambon is engaged in independence war.
Aug 15 After a vote in parliament, Indonesia officially abandons federal state concept for one with a centralized administration. Djokjakarta becomes part of new Indonesia.
Aug 17 The Sobsi, the Indonesian labour movement heavily influenced by communists, declares a national mourning 'because new state is not yet free from Dutch and other foreign capitalist influence'. Sukarno warns of upcoming struggle 'to free' New Guinea (now Irian Jaya).
Sep 15 Americans under UN flag, land in Korea and establish beachhead. Allies push communists back.
Sep 16 Units of the Viet Minh rebels attack French troops in French Indochina.
Sep 26 Seoul taken by UN troops.
Sep 28 Indonesia become 60th member of UN.
Oct 01 South-Korean units cross 38th parallel, push communists back. UN-commander General MacArthur calls on North Koreans to surrender.
Oct 02 China amasses troops at border with North Korea.
Oct 03 Indonesian army attacks Ambon, in the South Moluccas. Dutch government urges a peaceful settlement.
Oct 19 Dutch police arrest six communist leaders, among them Hermans, a member of the Second Chamber, for inciting Korea-bound soldiers to desert.
Oct 21 Chinese army starts campaign against independent Tibet.
Oct 25 Sukarno becomes president of Indonesia.
Oct 26 Carrying 630 army volunteers, the Dutch ship Zuiderkruis leaves Rotterdam for Korea. UN units reach Korean border with Manchuria.
Nov 04 Indonesia says fighting on Ambon over, troops 'only combing for enemy soldiers'. Struggle continues on Ceram.
Nov 06 Chinese troops rush in to help beleaguered North Korea.
Nov 26 Communists in Korea push UN troops back.
Nov 30 After a series of UN defeats, American president Truman threatens China with an atom bomb attack.
Dec 02 The Bertha Hartogh case gets settled when the High Court of Singapore orders the 13-year old Dutch girl returned to her mother. Raised by an Malayan woman during the Japanese occupation, the girl was given to a 22-year old man in an Islamic marriage. The mother, obstructed by English officials, resorts to the court to enforce her parental rights. Both leave for the Netherlands.
Dec 04 UN conference on New Guinea starts.
Dec 16 In the wake of an attempt on Truman's life and heavy Chinese pressure on American troops in Korea, the US declares a state of emergency.

1951

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Japanese-American legislator spearheads state resolution to force Japan to recognize its silenced WWII record

California opens a new front for internee rights


Tags: World War II

SACRAMENTO / TOKYO - California's state legislature unanimously has waded into one of the most sensitive legacies of the Second World War and international politics by reminding Japan it still has to tidy up unfinished business from fifty-five years ago.

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Brabant farmstead Valkenhorst housed 1943 German spy station

Secrets about site in Geenhoven revealed decades later


Tags: World War II

VALKENSWAARD, the Netherlands - A rural Brabant estate once owned by a family of Dutch diplomats, played a serious role in the German war effort. Although it soon became known locally that a large farmstead newly built by the Germans in 1943 was actually a concealed bunker, its purpose remained a mystery for decades. Dutch journalist Hans Knap in a recent book based on newly available documents and other information reveals that ‘Forschungsstelle Langeveld’ was used as a sophisticated listening post where the Germans were able to hack into Allied transatlantic telephone conversations.

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Downed RCAF airman treasures memories of life with the resistance

Memoirs dedicated to the Dutch Underground


Tags: World War II

BURNABY, British Columbia - His stay with hospitable Dutch families during World War II was involuntary and secret but it still evokes an grateful and enthusiastic response from former RCAF bomb aimer Bob Porter who later spent months in POW camps. The Lancaster crewman was shot down over the Zeist area and soon got acquainted with patriotic Dutchmen. He continues to visit his former helpers periodically. About a year ago, Porter published his wartime memoirs in a book and now is busy speaking to groups and schools who have invited him to talk about his experiences.

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Chinese civil war helps consolidate Japanese claims on Mainland (I)

Coup places island nation under military rule


Tags: World War II

Introduction

The 'good old days' of the pre-war years were by no means peaceful. For example, many European countries, had to deal with political unrest. Opposing groups attempted to oust each other forcibly (such as in the German province of Saxony, in Greece, Portugal, Spain, and the Balkan) while both Italy and Germany witnessed violence at the polls and social and political upheavals. Spain was ripped apart by civil war. Strongmen came and went in South America. Elsewhere, communists tried to gain power, while China went through serious internal conflicts with Japan flexing its muscle on the sideline, ready for a strike against the Mainland. The conservative party in Japan, backed by the military, gained power. India went through a test of wills with the British Empire. Short-lived disturbances signaled political unrest in the Dutch East Indies as well.

1926

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Germans gradually turned screws on occupied country (1931-1944)

Chronology of Dutch war-time history


Tags: World War II

Go to Part Two (1945-1949).

1931-1939 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | August 1943 | 1944 | September 1944

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Resistance groups left trail of raids and sabotage

Profile of Twenthe's KP assault teams


Tags: World War II

Introduction

Resisting Nazi decrees by the German occupation forces, concerned Dutchmen organized a national movement (simply called L.O.) to aid various groups of contemporaries who for one reason or another needed to go into hiding 1). As the Germans took harsh counter measures to curb the growing non-compliance of those decrees, the LO was forced into situations which called for (armed) action. Forming assault teams ('knokploegen' or KP's) was one way to help with this kind of resistance. Members of these KP units were highly motivated and, to the dismay of the Germans, very successful. The KP teams in the Twenthe region of Overijssel, home to wide-spread resistance, particularly were a burr in the side of the Germans. Other groups were active as well.

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Firebrand pastor crisscrossed country to coordinate resistance

Mother of five became powerhouse behind movement


Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill World War II History

Introduction

In just over a month, it will be 50 years ago that well over 350,000 Dutch people resurfaced from hiding places in cellars, crawlspaces, lofts and barns, behind secret walls and cupboards and in dugouts, boats, sheds, haystacks and from 'normal' life with an adopted family. A large part of them had refused to work for or be otherwise made accountable to the enemy who had crushed Dutch armed opposition five years earlier 1). As the real intent of the German occupation revealed itself, more and more Dutchmen became alarmed at their country's precarious situation and the way certain groups were victimized by the bizarre and inhumane Nazi ideology. Many were slow to grasp the extent of the threat to civilization but some people understood what to expect from Hitler. They propelled into action, over time making it possible for hundreds of thousands to vanish from sight, and to remain in hiding till the coast was clear 2). Several prominent Dutchmen who had sharply warned against the rise of the Nazi's in Germany were people who at one time lived or studied in that country or who lived near the border. Among them was Professor Schilder whose publication 'De Reformatie' was soon banned because of its sharp attacks on Nazidom 3). Schilder had received his doctorate de in Germany, and kept a close eye on the German political situation. 'De Reformatie' was banned in August 1940, and Schilder arrested.

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Month-long Battle of the 'Capelse Veer' very costly

Legendary resistance man tipped Allies of invasion threat


Tags: World War II

Introduction

Now fifty years ago, the Allied advance into the Netherlands was far from the cakewalk many - including Allied commanders - had expected it to be. To the contrary, the German army showed a remarkable ability to frustrate their enemy's efforts by making them fight for every inch of the way. The battle for the German's Meuse bridgehead, near Venlo, is a case in point. Another example is the costly Battle of the Scheldt estuary. Disorderly German withdrawals were sometimes overshadowed by heroic and death-defying tenacity of other (regrouped) Wehrmacht troops. The surprise counter-attack in the Ardennes, what became known as the Battle of the Bulge, caused many Dutchmen who lived in Brabant to fear that their Liberation Day had been celebrated just a bit prematurely. But battle-weary Brabanders never knew how close they got to new, prolonged warfare when a small band of Dutch resistance fighters frantically signaled warnings of impending disaster across the Meuse. In the process, a German incursion was prevented, but the Dutch spies never survived to tell their story.

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Battle of Overloon unique in modern Dutch history

Brabant's liberation only after heavy fighting


Tags: World War II

Introduction

Just over fifty years ago, two Dutch villages were virtually destroyed during a long, hard-fought battle, involving a German division with the newest Panther equipped tanks, the 7th American Armored Division and the 11th British Armored Division. The Allies defeated the enemy after two weeks of shelling, resulting in a man-to-man mop-up operation. Historians label it 'the Battle in the Shadow' (of Operation Market Garden), the local population still refers to it as 'the Forgotten Battle' since most Dutch people knew little about it until the liberation was complete. The 'Battle of Overloon' was the first and only tank battle ever to have taken place in the Netherlands. A battle which exacted a heavy toll among Allied soldiers who already had survived campaigns in Italy and Normandy.

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Brute force hit small Dutch town fifty years ago

Nearly all of Putten's captives perished in labour camps


Tags: World War II

Introduction

The central Dutch town of Putten always will remember its men who died at the hands of their Nazi oppressors. On October 1st, it was fifty years ago that Hitler's henchmen herded 661 men to the town's railway station from where they were taken to the concentration camp at Amersfoort. Thirteen men managed to escape earlier while 58 were sent home shortly after arriving at the camp. Belong long, the 590 of them were sent to camps in Germany where 541 of them perished or went missing without a trace. By June 1945, when thousands of other prisoners straggled back into the country to rejoin overjoyed loved ones, Putten's churchgoers dreaded to hear the consistory announcements of long lists of casualties among their men, the fathers, sons, brothers, uncles and nephews who last were seen alive eight months before. Putten's women stoically carried their deep sorrow and grief, and the three Dutch queens since then publicly expressed their sympathies when attending remembrance ceremonies over the years. The town's survivors - the women and the fatherless - faced a lonely future. The drama of Putten was deeply enshrined in the consciousness of those who were left behind. Putten remembers, then, now and for a long time to come.

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Mystery solved after 50 years

Relative visits crash site of American pilot


Tags: World War II

MIDLUM, the Netherlands - US Air Force lieutenant George Choate never returned from a WWII mission to Germany where his squadron attacked enemy positions at Nienburg. On the way back to England, the Thunderbolts planned to attack German positions around the Dutch town of Elburg. Choate was presumed downed when he ran into fire from German artillery. However locally, there was no report of an Allied plane crash that day, October 24, 1944.

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Dutch-Canadian ex-prisoner revisits war-time camp sites

A memorable return to Amersfoort


Tags: World War II

Introduction

In the months ahead, a series of commemorations and fiftieth anniversaries has been scheduled to highlight the liberation of provinces, cities and towns in several European countries. Few of these events are likely to receive as much attention as did the recent D-Day commemoration where leaders of allied countries paid their respect to the fallen soldiers. While D-Day may well be the occasion that scores high with the mass media, there are countries where commemorations and anniversaries are as regularly observed as in the Netherlands. American, British, Canadian and Polish veterans - but especially the Canadians - frequently make their way to these Dutch events.

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Wartime England-bound resistance men honoured with special plaque 

Recognition for ‘Engeland-vaarders’


Tags: World War II

SCHEVENINGEN, the Netherlands - Crossing the North Sea in dinghies and un-seaworthy river crafts was not the only danger escapees from the German occupation faced. Enemy patrols at sea and in the air were no match for the slow-moving boats. Many people abandoned their attempts, others disappeared at sea, while some were picked up and brought back to their occupied country to face death or were outright killed at sea. Only 1,800 reached England, of whom many via land to Spain or neutral Portugal.

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Drenthe village awarded medal for large-scale WWII aid to hunted Jews

Nieuwlanders embraced principle of resistance en masse


Tags: World War II

The population of the isolated village of Nieuwlande increased drastically during the dark days of World War II but the new arrivals rarely were seen in public. Not many people in the Netherlands today know about Drents Jerusalem, Nieuwlande’s nickname. In ancient Jerusalem, a continent away, the village received special acknowledgement in April 1985 as the only community which in its entirety was awarded a honourary Yad Vashem medal for harbouring strangers in its homes. A month earlier, a large majority of the villagers had received the Yad Vashem Award individually.

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Dutch soil still holds plenty of live war-time ammunition

Work by bomb squad gets more dangerous


Tags: World War II

CULEMBORG, the Netherlands - Although the Second World War ended over fifty years ago, it claimed two more lives, recently. Those two victims, inhabitants of Boekel, were not even born in 1945. At another location, police confiscated live grenades from two collectors who had used metal detectors to try and locate ammunition in nearby fields. Only days earlier, the Dutch bomb disposal unit (EOD) successfully dismantled several heavy bombs at Breskens, located to the west in Zeeland, after a part of the population in that harbour town had been evacuated. Similar work by the EOD receives media attention virtually every week.

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Former resistancemen held reunion at prison site

Daring raid in 1944 freed 51


Tags: World War II

LEEUWARDEN, the Netherlands - A gathering of 160 people commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of a daring prison raid by Dutch resistancemen on December 8th, 1944, recently. Ten of the 24 raiders who are still alive attended the ceremony at the Leeuwarden penitentiary. Henk Rypkema, who emigrated to Canada after the war ended, received a second look inside he building. The raid which was prompted by the arrest and brutal interrogation of one of the resistance leaders, occurred without firing a shot, freeing 51 resistance workers who were taken to hiding places throughout Friesland. The story of the raid has since been documented in a movie, called 'De Overval' and was viewed by the reunion crowd after unveiling a plaque - with the names of the 24 engraved - in the jail's hallway.

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Again delivery of ‘Liberation Bread’ just as in 1945

Symbolic drop of baked goods and Air Force fly-over


Tags: World War II

VLAARDINGEN - Experts say that 55 years after the fact, some Dutchman may well recall the taste of Liberation Bread made by Dutch bakers who in May 1945 had received their supplies in massive Allied air drops. For many more people, this year will be the first chance to taste the bread their parents, greatparents or siblings - after prolonged hunger - raved about in early May 1945, and perhaps ever since.

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Frisian jail raid anniversary attracts veterans for final reunion

Daring 1944 action peaceful event


Tags: World War II

LEEUWARDEN, the Netherlands - "It is now up to the next generation." Certainly for the last time, former members of an area resistance group recently gathered to commemorate ‘de Kraak’ of December 8, 1944, one of the most daring raids to free jailed area members of the resistance movement from jail. The veterans hope that others will keep the flame alive.

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Westerbork plans commemorative reunion on its liberation day

Invitation extended to all survivors


Tags: World War II

HOOGHALEN, the Netherlands - On April 12, it will be 55 years ago that the nazi concentration camp Westerbork was liberated by Canadian troops.

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