At that time, in May, 1943, the Dutch population had gone on a work strike
against Hitler. Trains and buses ground to a standstill. Factories became
inactive. All farm workers stayed home except those milking cows, but they
dumped the milk into the canals. Anyone who dared to work was reprimanded
harshly and called a traitor.
The whole population held its breath, wondering what the ubermensch (superman) would do now since his bread basket was not functioning anymore. We did not wait in expectation very long. The following proclamation appeared everywhere: l.) Curfew is from 8 p.m. till 6 a.m. 2.) No more than five people can meet together. 3.) No person is allowed to travel more than 2 kilometers from his address. 4.) Go back to work or suffer the consequences. But it was only a proclamation, so what! But what we didn't know was that a division of SS troops, noted for its brutality, was called out of Poland to crush the rebellious Dutch.
My five friends and I decided to go on a bike tour since the weather was sunny, flowers were blooming and we had unexpected holidays! About 8 kilometers from our home village at a crossing obscured by trees, we ran smack-dab into a SS trap. "Halt-Mensch! Snel! Handen-Aufwarts!" (Stop-Man! Fast! Hands up!) Came the command. There was no way to escape. Machine guns were trained on us to shoot and kill. "Ausweis" (identification) was another command. Reluctantly we complied. "What are you doing here`? You are too far away from your village! Why are you not at work'?" These words were accompanied by stinging slaps and swift kicks with their steel-toed boots.
"Einsteigen!" (get in the truck) and some of us were kicked in. They took off with us in their vehicles, down side roads, through villages, shooting at people, chasing some and in general just terrorizing the population. Around 6 p.m. they approached the village where we lived. Some workers who had just milked the cows were returning from the farm. But when they saw the green camouflaged trucks coming, they ran back to the barn. The trucks came to a screeching stop right in front of my Dad and Mom's house. The soldiers caught the workers, but let them go since they "returned from work."
The neighbor women stood lamenting and crying for us, but not Mom Rita. When she saw her son with the others, she went in the house, quickly prepared sandwiches and approached the guard with outstretched hands and with a smile on her face, said, "This is for my boy, the blond one." Did this "trained-to-kill" menacing SS soldier still have a soft spot in his heart? Or perhaps his mind went back home to his own mother's smile, or was it the Angel of the Lord working on Mom Rita's behalf? Whatever it was, he let her pass and she handed me the sandwiches with the question, "When are you coming home?"
"Oh, tonight, Mom, or tomorrow for sure!" Was my optimistic reply. Mom returned home and no doubt started to pray with Dad for the safe return of their son and the other young men.
The SS men went to a tavern, except for one guard, to eat and drink and no doubt boast about their accomplishments! After an hour, they came out and the officer barked a command. The soldiers then lined us six young men against the wall behind a shed and took their position 10 to 15 yards away. My friend Peter said, "The crazy guys are going to shoot us!" "No, they are just scaring us!" I replied. Suddenly two Dutch Federal Police appeared around the corner. They saluted the officer and a rapid exchange of words took place. The result was all of us had to raise our right hand and promise to return to work the next day. We gladly did and we were allowed to go home - a happy ending to say the least. Hundreds of people had been shot or killed, while others had been sent off to concentration camps during the crushing defeat of the uprising.
De Jong, Albert. Two Soldiers in God's Victorious Army. 2002, p. 104-106.
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