SLIEDRECHT – With more than 2000 members of the Waffen-SS, German soldiers and members of Ordnungspolizei Combs since early morning the villages Sliedrecht, Giessendam, Werkendam Hardinxveld and out looking for young men. In nature Biesbosch Searching. Hundreds of young men are arrested.

The action is a retaliation for a wound nearly a week ago in the Biesbosch. A thugs of the opposition then shot two guards dead land. And that was in retaliation for the murder of a baker, committed by the son of one of the national guards.

Soldiers arrive even before sunrise and in Hardinxveld Sliedrecht. The Hardinxveldse milkman Hoogendoorn says she is under more gathered under the viaduct of the Rotterdam-Gorinchem highway. Then the soldiers put out posts, each with no more than a few tens of meters distance between them.

Eventually, as all banks of the Merwede between Sliedrecht and Upper Hardinxveld deposited. The same happens in Werkendam and Sleeuwijk to Across the river. Then the soldiers go from house to house. round thirty they face the back of the family Hoogendoorn. Their 19-year-old son John would just have breakfast and was still in the room. An officer of the Waffen-SS asks for a drink and get Santé, a kind of fake tea.

Jan: “I entered the kitchen and looked straight into the face of that German with the skulls on his uniform. I said nothing, but I took my plate and I went back to the front room, where I locked the connecting door. My aunt came to the front room a little later and she told me not to look so angry, you never know what he will do.”

This article continues below this advertisement

For Jan runs well off, precisely thanks to the German officer. A short time later a police van stops in front of the house. A few Armed soldiers are getting ready to search the house, but the Waffen-SS tells them that everything is in order. Jan: "Shortly thereafter left the officer. He thanked my mother for tea and finally said: 'This is not war, catch boys. ' "

Hundreds of others less fortunate. The soldiers Collect them in three places: at the Grote Kerk in Sliedrecht, on the square School of the Bible to the Rivierdijk Hardinxveld and blacksmith Jaap Creek to Bandijk in the Biesbosch. They are waiting hours for them to the end of the afternoon in police vans to transport go to Camp Amersfoort. The panic in the villages is great.

It is not the first hostages to the Germans this month picking in Hardinxveld and Sliedrecht. There are already some 20 men arrested. no youth, but known inhabitants of the villages, as director of Caljé shipyard "The Holland ', headmaster Köhler, butcher Bouman, sheepmaster Donk, bicycle dealer Rikkers and tax collector Mountain Field. Insofar as is known, they detained in the police station at the Hague Spring in Rotterdam.


The reason for the large-scale raids, the murder of some armed NSB country or guardians from Sliedrecht chasing hiding. Which happened to the pilot whale beside the entrance to the Infernal Luis in the Biesbosch, six days ago. Nine land guards, including master Okkerse and Jo Westdijk were lured with false by a gang of resistance in an ambush hiding information that could that night to the already liberated Brabant be hazards. There followed shots over and over again. Okkerse and Westdijk came to, four national guards were injured, one of whom was seriously far.

The escaped six members of the gang, although two of them were injured. They had secured the help of the lockkeeper and a farmer in the area, cropper Kadijk. Three resistance fighters shelter at Kadijk, including one of the wounded, the other three fled to Dordrecht.

Son Rent Kadijk, 13 jaar oud, tells: "The news of the attack spread like wildfire. You noticed that everyone tense and alert used to be. At school I felt some nervousness among our teacher in notice. It is completely unclear who exactly was responsible for the attack and therefore not who have fired the fatal shots. So there would be or follow an 'appropriate response'. "

That answer was indeed, As we know now. That the German response would not be tender, became clear during the funeral of the two land guards last Saturday. Inspector General of the Dutch Landwacht Cornelis van Geelkerken then said: "We will not start a civil war, but where we know how to deal with terrorists and saboteurs, we will be hard as steel. No one from that side has to count on any leniency on our part. The die is cast. "

This article continues below this advertisement

Joop Westdijk

The liquidation of the Biesbosch is a direct response again the death of a baker in Giessendam, more than a month ago. The 57 years old Wouter Smit had on the evening of 14 April,. a meeting of attended the Green Cross and was about to enter the home curfew to be. He and two other visitors of the evening passed near the Train Jo Westdijk and his 16 year old son Joop, who, like his father the country is waiting.

Joop, which according to many people to his father wanted to prove, asked the men to their identity. Smith did not respond fast enough, which Joop pulled the trigger of his shotgun. The bakkersknecht received a shotgun in his back. Brought back from: "I have not heard ", after which he fell seriously injured in another. his companions carried him to the coffee house of W. A. van den Heuvel and laid him on billiard. Yet arrived for the doctor, Smith died.

Five days later the funeral at the cemetery Achterdijk in Hardinxveld, under the guidance of two pastors, ds. Johannes van der Poel from Giessendam and ds. Jan Pieter Dorsman from Schelluinen. The whole village was stunned and ran before as a token of sympathy and protest the action of the national guard.

Rent Kadijk says that the opposition soon began afterward planning revenge. They wanted Westdijk a lesson. The with a special boat anyway resistance was angry at the land guards in the Biesbosch chased people who hid in the area. Also, there prevails in Sliedrecht much outrage about the Westdijk family is big dike of the deported Jewish textile merchant and councilor S.H. den Hartog had appropriated.

And so it came to plan for liquidation by a false tip about hiding. Almost action failed, tells Rent Kadijk. "When the land guards boat there 01.00 hour was not yet, decided to leave the men in the canoes, disappointed that the expected strike was forthcoming. And then it still came. "

The result is now that hundreds of men aged 18 tot 25 years were arrested and taken away. Countless families are in anguish and dread. What goes with their men, sons and brothers happen? The words Van Geelkerken pose little confidence.

How it went

The first twenty people were arrested after liquidation of the land guards were 13 June of the police station in Rotterdam transported to Camp Vught. Shortly after Mad Tuesday they are transferred Kamp Amersfoort and there released within days. They became initially called Merwede Hostages. But after the arrest of hundreds of young men, that changed and that large group was named. How many men were arrested exactly is not clear. Some sources speak of 900 men, others hold it in such 600.

The young men who 16 mei 1944 were arrested and to Camp Amersfoort had been brought into the camp as hostages relatively privileged position. They were allowed to keep their clothes, were not shaved. But punishment exercises were not spared them. Bas van der Starre says:

"At the command had to be run in a circle in such a way that the lines were pretty similar from the perspective of the Germans in the middle. That meant that the inner men just walked in runs, while the outer extra had to walk fast. That was for the outer person to hold only briefly so full of these people fell down after a while of fatigue on the ground. Dropouts were clubbed by stand-up clubbers and doused with water. "

Bas van der Starre

Another Merwede Hostage, Marius Pammant, zegt:

"Kampbeul Joseph Kotälla, one of the three infamous Breda, footballer had been in the Polish team. He hit you upside. Then you stood in rows and then Kotälla came along and kicked everyone against his balls to. "

Marius Pammant

The hostages were put to work in draughty chain. They had to weave straw mats. From a certain point there was three times apple a day. The food was mediocre. the Breejen: "One slice of bread in the morning and evening afternoon once a scoop 'mash or soup. Maar ja, You ate everything. "

Tussen 16 mei en 6 juli 1944 was in total over the Half of the Merwede Hostages freed. That happened often at the request of their employer. These were employees of companies for the Germans were important, such as shipyards and metalworks.

Op 7 July Merwede remaining hostages were deported to labor camps in Germany. were the conditions in the camps hard. Twenty-five of the young men who 14 May, arrested, it did not survive. A twenty-sixth died shortly after the war.

In 1985 A plaque placed at the places where was Merwede Hostages were taken to Camp Amersfoort, namely the Great Church in Sliedrecht and the School of the Bible in Hardinxveld.

In 2018 Merwede Hostages are commemorated in Camp Amersfoort. Also a children's book published, entitled "Hellish Luis. A story about Merwede Raid "by writer Judith Brinkman Gorinchem.

Op 4 mei 2019 NOS broadcast a documentary about story Merwede Hostages. It says Marius Pammant: "My family soon after my return not: how was it. Well I was not the only hearing. They were so familiar with the idea that you went out of the pipe. "

Reason for Anja van der Rigid, daughter of Bas van der Starre, to collect stories and give all victims of the raid indeed recognition. her conclusion: "That was much worse than I ever imagined, how serious they are humiliated, abused, employs placed under very bad conditions, without food. But especially the way they were treated after the war, misunderstood, not looked back to. Many people were disabled or had mental problems. That is now all be in place. That's very painful. "

in May 2019 Sliedrecht, the council decided unanimously that there should be a memorial to the men who 1944 be deported. This memorial must still for May 2020 to be.


J.A. Batenburg, Sliedrecht wartime 1940-1945 (1994)

Documentary about the Merwede Hostages