Resistance in the Polders
(low-lying tracts of land enclosed by barriers known as dikes)
The Zeeland region known as the "Bag of South Beveland” hangs like a sack under the former island. (located between the Oosterschelde (Eastern Scheldt estuary) and Westerschelde (Western Scheldt estuary). In this region, the land and sea affect each other in a special way. Pieces of land are given back to the sea and there are areas where water is dried by human activity. It is a beautiful landscape and has existed since the eleventh century wrestled from the sea by reclamation. Even now the landscape is characterized by countless kilometers of winding dikes whose sides are usually planted with double rows of poplar trees. The many farms in this area are still characterized by detached, black painted barns along the dikes. The frames of windows and doors of these barns are painted with white trimming, so the farmer can see where he is in the dark. The soil in this agricultural area is fertile and the climate is mild. The region is traditionally known for growing fruit and vegetables.
Most villages in the “bag” are part of the Municipality Borsele whose administrative center is not the similar sounding Borssele village, but is located in the village Heinkenszand. Heinkenszand lies about 14 kilometers east of Middelburg and it is the village of Borsele with the largest population. Heinkenszand, popularly called 'Eintjeszand', was once a small island off the coast of South Beveland until the beginning of the 14th century when it was first diked. Heinkenszand still consist of a cluster of 18 polders. The village itself was created by development on either side of the polder dike known as the ‘s-Herendijck, which is called the Dorpsstraat (village street) now, the main street. Earlier Heinkenszand had also two outdoor places in the town that gave the town some grandeur; the House Watervliet which was later demolished, and on that spot the estate Landlust came, and finally around the turn of the last century Barbestein made way for the the Roman Catholic Church of St. Blaise.
In August 1944, the month in which I want to start my story, Heinkenszand was still an independent municipality. It consisted of little more than three main streets that met in a T-junction; one extension, Dorpsstraat, the main street where most of the shops and the main buildings were located, the other extension was Stationsweg (Station Road), and perpendicular to these two, Clara's Pad (Clara’s Path) that began where the other two came together. Around these there were some partly unpaved paths. The roads on the outside of the urban areas were mostly located on the many polder dykes surrounding the village.
As in all villages in the “bag”, a few things happened to this polder village after the German invasion. I will sketch a picture of these events.
Heinkenszand during the war
Before Heinkenszand was taken, the population increased with evacuees from the region that was inundated by the Dutch and French armies in the “tail” of South Beveland. This was done to prevent the German arm to invade the former island. The citizens who had space in their homes, made a place for those displaced, mostly refugees from Kruiningen. The families from that village took all that they could carry with them to the west, fleeing the rising sea that had changed the surrounding fields into salty mud flats.
On May 15, 1940, one day before the German army broke through on the Vlake Bridge that joined Zealand with the mainland, Jean Marie Dormic a 33-year-old French soldier died, from his injuries in the emergency hospital in Heinkenszand. He was from the village of Edern, in the Brittany, Finistere (northwestern part of France) and he was a 1st Cannonier-servant (1st Class Gunner) assigned to the 307th Artillery Regiment. In neighboring Lewedorp (a Dutch town in the province of Zeeland about 9 km east of Middelburg) he was hit by a machine gun bullet, probably from a German fighter. After he was found, he was taken to the Public Elementary School in Heinkenszand, which had been converted to a hospital during the mobilization. After his death, Jean was entombed at the General Cemetery. A standing stone made from masonry marked his tomb.
A day after the death of the French soldier, the German forces moved throughout South Beveland, as well Heinkenszand. With the conquest of this village, one must not have any heroic ideas. Reportedly it ran as follows: One day two German soldiers stopped while riding their bikes at the emergency hospital located in the school. One of them climbed on the back of the other to look inside and exclaimed: “Ah, das ist ein Krankenhaus” (“Ah, this is a hospital”) '. Then they walked back to their bikes and left the village. Thus Heinkenszand became incorporated into the Third Reich.
But of course this would not be the only thing that the village would encounter. Zealand was strategically located and indeed an important province. Soon the inhabitants of Heinkenszand not only had to share their homes with evacuees, but also had to quarter the German soldiers. For example, the St. Joseph Roman Catholic School had to serve as a local barracks. Homes and barns were used the same way. Although the 45-year-old mayor of Heinkenszand Aloys Mes wasn’t replaced by an NSB mayor like in other towns, he now had to report to Mr. Peter Dieleman who was appointed as Commissioner of the Province of Zeeland by the German authority.
It soon became clear to the inhabitants of Heinkenszand that they had to learn to tally their numbers. Not only because there were many German soldiers settling into a warm and secure refuge everywhere, they had the most to fear from individuals they knew only too well. That could be sometimes a neighbor, or coworkers they worked together with for years and as a child may have been in the same class. These were the people who put aside their suspicions to the new time to welcome the occupiers. One of the most fanatical National Socialists of Heinkenszand, was the painter Kees Klap who lived in the Dorpsstraat. Kees was a member of the NSB and later became head of the local Landwacht (Home Guard). This organization was a paramilitary group, which was founded in March 1944 from the ranks of the NSB. The members were mostly equipped with shotguns. Initially they wore the black NSB uniform, but later were equipped with a gray field jacket with a grenade insignia on the collar, a gray cap, black pants and black leather boots. These uniforms were to underscore to the country that these guards that began as auxiliary agents were under the command of the SS General Hanns Rauter, Commissioner, leader of the German intelligence service and the police, and not Anton Mussert the NSB leader. A member of the Landwacht earned between fifty and sixty guilders (currency of the Netherlands) a week. It was a tempting salary for wartime. These guards were often used to monitor important buildings or to verify and check identities, because they were raised among the local population and knew the local situation well. Their main task was tracking and arresting those labeled as undesirable or dangerous by the Germans. Just like everywhere in the Netherlands, "undesirable elements" were also removed from society in Heinkenszand. For example, after some anti-German sermons from the pulpit, the pastor of St. Blasius Church was arrested. More arrests followed. The small village had exactly one person of Jewish descent, the wife of a non-Jewish spouse. Her maiden name was Cohen. The investigation proved that she had four Jewish grandparents with a Jewish ancestry. She had to register. The mayor refused to put the letter J (for Jew) in her identity pass. On 24 March 1942, at the town hall in Heinkenszand the order in the form of a letter stated that this lady and her half Jewish children had to leave the province and report in Amsterdam. The mayor pretended he had never received the order. Hen tried as much as possible to counteract their decision, without going too much against the grain. Also, he tried to abolish the order for the woman and her children for wearing the Star of David and filed a proof of approved membership in the Dutch Reformed Church. The authorities were not impressed and found that they still had to report in Amsterdam. What eventually happened to the woman and children, remained unclear, but it is known that they survived the war and that in 1950 with her husband and children departed to North Holland.
The fight progressed and the German forces overran more and more of Europe. There was anon going shortage of metal for the Third Reich’s war industry. On 4 December 1942, Mayor Mes, like all mayors in Zeeland, received a letter from the Commissioner of the Province which said, “that as part of the metal claim”, the church bells of all the churches in seized in Zeeland would be taken. Only clocks with a special historical value might - might - be spared. Dieleman ordered the mayor to inventory the bells of his churches and to send the results to him. The tower clocks according to the inspectors had to remain spared. However, they had previously been inventoried and labeled with a whitewashed letter M. On 5 December, Mayor Mes responded, there were three church bells in town that were available: one in the tower of the Dutch Reformed Church and two in the tower of the Roman Catholic Church. None of these bells were marked by the letter M. The clock of the Dutch Reformed Church was cast in 1649 and mayor Mes argued that it was of great historical value. Mes also believed that this clock, because it was stood in the middle of the village had a greater chance of survival than the other two because it was indispensable for alerting the population. Mes requested the Commissioner spare the clock from meltdown and keep it for an alarm. Dieleman answered with “all clocks without the letter M would be collected anyway”, but that he sincerely hoped some that were exceptional would be saved. On behalf of the metal inspector wrote Dieleman, the mayor was to make sure that the removal of the bells' would happen in an orderly and expeditious manner. In the spring of 1943 came the big day; 200 Zealand bronze bells would be required. On 3 March, the dreaded letter from the attorney of the Art Protection Inspectorate arrived at the office of mayor Mes, it announced that the three bells of Heinkenszand would be removed in a few days by the contractor Meulenberg from the province of Limburg (in the South East of our country), a member of the NSB. The mayor was ordered to paint each of the three bells a white P ten inches high. The people saw the events unfurl with sorrow. After disassembly, all three clocks were taken to a warehouse in Goes and transported from there to Hamburg where they probably were smelted in the Norddeutsche Affenerie in Hamburg or the Zinnewerke Wilhelmsburg. It was a small consolation; the government compensated the owners of these treasures with 75 cents per kilogram. When clocks from other villages were removed by the Limburg contractor, sometimes this warning was written on them; "Who shoots with bells, doesn’t win the war!" meaning the bells would be turned into copper bullets, but because these were removed from churches they wouldn’t be a blessing for the Germans, but a curse.
The Wehrmacht had commanded the Arbeitseinsatz (The Nazi Forced-labor Program), but some of the mayors had subsequently resigned in protest. Dieleman tried to persuade the mayors to come back on their decission, but when Aloys and his colleagues were adamant, this was considered an act of protest. Many mayors were then arrested and interned but Aloys knew the routine and went into hiding. He was succeeded by Deputy Mayor GP Beaufort and later on by the NSB Mayor Christiaan Kole. In retaliation for the disappearance of her husband, Caroline, the wife of Aloys, was locked up for some time in the infamous SS concentration camp Vught. As she sat there, the Germans tried to claim the furniture of the family, but the evacuees from the village of Walcheren removed the furniture from the mayor’s apartment, and managed to avoid this event.
It was common for the population to be called into forced labor not only in industry, but also in the countryside. On the beaches and in the fields they had to plant the so-called Rommel asperges (Rommel asparagus); stakes of wood or metal, preventing the landing of the amphibious vehicles and allied aircraft. These poles were sometimes connected with iron and barbed wire. On 18 April 1944, G.P. Beaufort, the acting mayor of Heinkenszand, wrote the residents of the village: "The Commissioner of this State informs me that the Reich Commissioner for the Province of Zeeland informed him, that the fencing of lands (including the fences on dykes) as of today to have only one thread. Consequently, you must remove all multiple threads, and wind them to reels and deliver them to the municipal mayor before May 1. Additionally, you must submit a declaration of the number of kilograms and the appraised value. Pointed wire and smooth wire should be wound on separate reels."
Because he was a smith, Nico Biezen received a letter saying that his heavy hammer, saw and pliers, were necessary for the production and planting of Rommel asparagus, and were needed. Nico did not want to give away his tools to the occupier, so he simply hid them under a hedge. It was not very obvious that a blacksmith had no heavy tools in his possession, and the tools were found. It was a close call; Nico could have ended up in jail for this. He received, however, a stiff warning. Forced laborers worked often as slowly as possible to the frustration of the Germans while planting the asparagus. Moreover, the doctors gave the men, relief for the slightest pain or falsified their health reports, everything to slow the work of the occupier.
The mayor and the priest tried to resist the authority of the occupying power. Immediately, after the occupation in and around Heinkenszand, another opposition to this new regime arose. Initially, the overt protests were usually on the pain of imprisonment but they nipped it in the bud. There was also a less ostentatious form of protest: refusing to cooperate with the Germans, the severing of family ties with people who helped them, or wearing national symbols on public holidays.
The Group Griep
Also, there were some varied organized groups committed to resistance. In Heinkenszand there was an active resistance group, which had about fourteen members. These men, often with young families, saw the life they had just built, threatened by the power that came marching into their village. Together they decided they had no patience to wait until the Germans would leave. They turned their outrage into action. After the raid, the core members of the local group gradually locked itself on the Zeeland branch of the Order Department (OD). Initially former front fighters founded this movement, and it was created to maintain order, after the liberation of the Netherlands. When it became clear that the Germans made no move to leave, the OD grew into a resistance movement, which many civilians joined. Peter Kloosterman a bicycle dealer and ex-military from Nisse became a member of the resistance in the first hour. In 1940, he was asked by the national staff of the OD to organize the various resistance movements in South Beveland. Kloosterman was appointed district commander of the former island and reliable men gathered around him, especially ex-servicemen. One of them was Ko van 't Westeinde, ex-military and nurseryman from Baarsdorp (a small hamlet near Heinkenszand), and was appointed section head. We will later read more about him. These men sought to form local groups of people around them. It was becoming that every city, village or hamlet had his own resistance group with its own commander. In 1944, there were about 1200 South Beveland members of the OD. The membership of these groups varied by location. Baarsdorp was counted as a hamlet and had 10 members, but the city Goes had around 200. The OD was engaged in all kinds of resistance work as sabotage, falsification of identity cards and the stealing of ration cards. In Zealand, men wanted to depart for redeployment, the OD established an extensive network for hiding them when they wanted to escape provided a hiding place. The OD gathered through their secret radio messages aired by the BBC and Radio Orange from England, and gave this information “Je Maintiendrai” (I will maintain - motto of the Netherlands) to the various clandestine newspapers. The illegal newspapers were often delivered to the people by the OD themselves. By the end of 1944, came the demand for information on the military situation in Zeeland from the Allies. Thus, the collection of military data was an important task. The members of the OD formed an intelligence agency (ID) and by reason of their location took note of important issues such as German military objects, positions and buildings of NSB. The police agent Vroombout from Nisse collected this information and in turn, transferred it to Piet Kloosterman. Eventually they sent the data through a secret transmitter in Goes to Middelburg and on to the North Sea where it was sent, or smuggled to England through Belgium, France or Spain. Once in England, Allied forces incorporated this information was into military topographic maps for the impending invasion.
Also in Heinkenszand an "underground group" was founded. This group was a loose organization whose members sometimes were simultaneously active in, or worked with, other resistance groups. The group was known by the unofficial name “The Group Griep”.
Nico van Biezen
As a veteran, the 31-year-old blacksmith, Nico was asked to become a member of the OD by the Section Head, Ko van ’t Westeinde. This was an offer Nico did not have to think long about. Nico was appointed the local commander and reliable comrades gathered around him. Nico, his 30-year-old wife Suus and his 3-year-old daughter Rietje lived in the forge, on property next to Stationsstraat. This building still stands and now serves as a Chinese restaurant. The farmers who went along with Nico considered him as a skilled blacksmith who made horse riding equipment.
Nico: "Our resistance group began by handing out pamphlets. Mr. Ko van 't Westeinde, Section Head of the OD, one evening brought 1st Lieutenant Scheffers to us. Coincidentally, I knew that man, he was the paymaster of the 7th Field Artillery Regiment, friend of my direct boss during mobilization. He stayed with us in hiding for just about 14 days. I then found a hiding place for him at the home of the widow Mol. Mr. Scheffers arrived there tired but brought some beauty in the life of the widow Mol and Maaike her daughter. Dear good people. The Germans shot his best friend Ko Massee from Goes. Scheffers was a vital man, but the boredom was almost devastating for him. I organized a lot of hiding places for people, also hided them my self in my forge, making them servants in the house and in the workshop. Our house was always open as shelter for refugees. I could take care of everything for these people; food, ration cards, false papers, and if necessary clothing. Also, for a long time, I have been billeting German soldiers and had up to four German blacksmiths in the workshop. At first I was not amused, but on the other hand, it was a good cover for our anti-German behavior. "
Nico asked the doctor Kees Griep to join him in the local underground. (in translation Griep means Influenza, Griep was his actual name). The 49-year-old Kees, the man to whom the group was named, was from Rilland-Bath. Together with his wife Corry Duinker they moved to Heinkenszand in 1922. Kees began a GP practice, in a house that still serves as a doctor's residence located on Clara's Pad. The family had three daughters, Iet, Attie, Nannie and a son, Pim. Not long after his arrival, Kees was appointed the town physician Heinkenszand and received his wages by the municipality. Kees was known as an active and socially conscious man. In addition to his practice, he was involved in all kinds of medical and social initiatives. So he and his wife began work, Corry participated in the local mother and nurse course and he was one of the first doctors to open a clinic for infants in Zealand. Kees was also involved in associations. He was the chairman of the local band Euterpe and president and director of the local art theater. Kees was also a member of the local Voluntary Vigilante, a conservative and royalist paramilitary organization that wanted to protect the Netherlands against undemocratic influences since 1935. By 1940, the Germans disbanded this organization. As mentioned earlier, the Public Elementary School in Heinkenszand functioned as an emergency hospital. As the municipal doctor, Kees got the leadership of the hospital and became hospital director.
After the German invasion, he joined Medisch Contact (Medical Contact), an illegal organization of Dutch doctors who tried to oppose the German medical organization De Artsenkamer (the Chamber of Doctors). Medisch Contact spread through contact relay letters about the measures de Artsenkamer imposed and advised the doctors how to handle them. In this way, they tried in an organized way to influence food distribution, loyalty statements, medical examinations of forced labor, and German measures against Jewish and Dutch measures against forced sterilization work. Because Kees was asked to work for the Centraal Beheer (a Dutch office that monitored the law for ill workers) he became a medical officer that had to check on their patients. Because of this he transferred his practice in the summer of 1942 to Dr. Piet Staverman. Initially, Kees drove a Ford V8 to his home visits, but during the war, the wheels were removed and he put the rest on blocks, so that it could not be recovered. Instead of the Ford, he drove an Italian Fiat with a gas generator owned by his new employer in those years. Kees Griep and his wife hid several evacuees during the occupation. He came to the resistance group that was named after him, with his organization skills, knowledge of the population, the confidence he enjoyed with them and above all he was allowed to travel without restrictions. That was very handy.
Piet van den Dries
Kees Griep suggested headmaster Piet van den Dries to Nico van Biezen to become a member of the group. Piet was a good friend of Kees. Piet was born in Houten in the province Utrecht, but later returned to Zealand where the family originally came from. He and his wife Katrien Schipper whom he married in 1936, had two daughters, Paula and Corrie, and a son, Peter. The father of the 35-year-old Piet had been a head teacher and Piet continued the tradition to lead the St. Joseph School, a Catholic boys' school in Heinkenszand in 1938. Piet had an exceptionally long and lean figure. He was a striking appearance in the village. Reportedly, he was known for his giftedness, but he was notorious for his clumsiness when technique was concerned. A neighbor, whom I spoke to last year, who knew him, still remembers that my grandfather failed countless times for his car license. As was usual at that time, the headmaster lived with his family in a building located next to the school. Piet's house was on the Kerkdreef, a path from the Dorpsstraat that runs to the St. Blasius church. Further on the path is the Lourdes grotto, a miniature replica of the famous French shrine dating from 1912. In the first decades of the twentieth century the veneration of Mary was very in vogue in Catholic Netherlands. After the opening of the cave, there were also hundreds of pilgrims who went along the path by the teacher’s house on Kerkdreef. Behind Piet’s house was the school. The house itself is still there, but the school was later demolished. Once the German troops invaded the village, Piet was forced to vacate the premises so the school could serve as a German barracks. From that moment, he had to not only to deal with the German soldiers in his school, but also with an officer that confiscated the room of little Peter, to sleep and spend his free time in. This created a dangerous situation for Piet. Ko van 't Westeinde, section head, had already asked his cousin Piet to join the OD and to organize a group, together with his friend Kees Griep and village blacksmith Nico. Now he had a German officer in the house and a German company in his school. He had to watch his step.
Because his studies included English at the University of Oxford, Piet was employed as an interpreter between the resistance groups and the airmen that had crashed their bomber or fighter in South Beveland. Besides his job as head of the school Piet also gave private English lessons to people from around the village; especially to the members of the resistance, so they could communicate with aviators and later with the liberators. Like his fellow fighters Piet had a radio, a small crystal receiver, hidden in a matchbox in his office. Piet dared only to listen when his wife Katrien stood guard in the corridor and gave the signal that the coast was clear. Then he waited for the first probing measurements of the fifth symphony of Beethoven - in Morse Code V symbolic for Victory - then sounded the “Radio Oranje Here”, the voice of the battling Netherlands! Piet very much had to watch his words he used during school lessons, as it was generally known that NSB gave their children instructions to watch the master for unwanted comments. According to an internal letter from the NSB on February 7 1942, Piet was classified as a "... outside school: very anti-National Socialist, within school: neutral.” So he was being watched.
The billeting had advantages despite all the tension that it entailed. The German soldiers behind his house soon became acquainted with the family of that kind Herr Haupt Meister. The Germans talked with him so smartly, and sometimes Piet was able to get the necessary information. Since the beginning of the occupation, the German units in Zealand repaid them with some regularity. All the men who could still fight were sent to the front. In July 1944, the 165th Reserve Infantry Division, was followed by a weaker division; the 70th Infantry Division which was formed only a month earlier. This unit consisted of three infantry regiments and the ancillary units. The 70th Infantry Division, led by the 60-year War Veteran Lieutenant General Wilhelm Daser, was also called the Magen Division (Stomach Division), because they mainly consisted of soldiers who for some reason had stomach problems. While in Zealand they had a diet of white bread, which gave them the name Weissbrot division (could only eat white bread). Soldiers of this division came under Heinkenszand and were billeted appropriately in the school behind Peter's house, so the headmaster had personally met many of these men. Some officers, he could even get along with; ordinary guys who were homesick and cried when Allied bombers roared over their heads, on their way to bomb the cities, where their families lived. But others were committed National Socialists, firmly convinced that they would win the war. One such Hitler supporter was the officer billeted in Piet's house. Whenever Katrien was cleaning the room of this soldier, she had the habit to turn around the stern portrait of Hitler. She dared not do this anymore because the officer gave her a scolding after he had caught her.
The children, who were expelled from their schools, were sometimes taught in the church, then in the rectory, in a café or in other emergency rooms that were available. In the four and a half years of the occupation, the classes were moved a total of 19 times. Every time, the teachers had lugged, with the students and a large number of benevolent parents, the books, tables and chairs through the streets to the next location. The school had to deal with different measures imposed. Thus, the children had to get German language classes from the command of the occupying forces. Though Piet himself had studied German and spoke the language fluently, he reluctantly shared this knowledge. He taught his class only a few words and then spent the most time parsing them. When the school inspector of the NSB came along and expressed his displeasure, Piet weathered himself with the argument that you could not learn good German without having to parse the words. There were notes made, but no further reprisals followed. While on the one hand, the German textbooks were ordered, there were plenty of other books rejected and removed from the education package. Everything that slightly reeked of organic patriotism was banned. Although the gymnasium of St. Joseph School had progressed to serve as a stable, and no other rooms were available, the Germans had suddenly required compulsory gymnastics. Most children did not have good shoes, let alone sneakers.
On 1 May 1944, Piet was asked by NSB mayor of Kole, Heinkenszand, for a list to be drawn up of school children that would like to go to Germany on vacation. In the middle and upper mountains, they would enjoy German care with good nutrition. The mayor asked Piet to seek out some teachers to see if they would like to accompany them. It is doubtful he informed anyone of this request and Piet reported no one was interested. Why the Germans wanted to move Dutch children to Germany is not clear, perhaps to teach them National Socialism. Just in case the tide against the Third Reich would return or the bombing would increase, they may have wanted to keep the children as collateral.
As time went by, only a few children would attend Piet’s school classes. In the fertile Zealand, the population was not really hungry, but there were indeed shortages. There was lack of clothing, footwear and soap, so the parents prefer the children stayed home instead of sending them to school in rags and dirty faces. Moreover, there were many fathers away for employment or in hiding, so many children in the country had to work for the food supply.
On the weekend, Piet like to grab the bike, as he did not want to keep busy with school matters nor all those pesky demands of the occupier. Despite the fact that Zealand was a Sperrgebiet ("Prohibited Area"), he managed to pry loose regularly and go cycling to Middelburg and Antwerp with additional equipment. Although, he already spoke fluent German, he told the authorities that he was in Middelburg to study German and also that he was doing family research in Antwerp where his ancestors came from. With the permission of the authorities in his pocket, Piet could, while his bike was not taken away, move as much recorded data on the German positions in South Beveland, Walcheren and Zealandic Flanders. He passed the information on to his nephew Ko van 't Westeinde which gave this in turn to the district commander, Piet Kloosterman. This information helped the Allies to prepare for invasion.
Like everywhere else where danger, oppression and fear of war prevailed, funny events could somewhat mitigate the doom and gloom. Piet had made a lot of funny events especially with his son Peter. So he knew he had better watch his language after he was called out of class. A German company was succeeded by another, and Peter's son came all tidy hand in hand and greeted them with: "Dag rotmof!” (Hello dirty kraut!). Onetime, Peter was with a friend playing in the bike shed in the schoolyard. The loft was used as stables for the Germans, but at that time there was no German or horses in sight. His friend in the village was known as an incorrigible pyromaniac, had once again managed to get a few matches and urged Peter to try them. Peter thought that was exciting, but the match was too short. The result was that a little later the whole loft was ablaze. When they found out who the perpetrators were, his friend was thrown in jail. Peter, however, was in the bath when the police came to get him. With all his power he held fast to the rim and cried that they could not take him anyway, because he was in the nude. Eventually, he did not go to prison, but had to go to bed with a few sore red buttocks.
One afternoon Peter came home with a two bullets he found somewhere. Startled, his mother quickly ordered him to give them to the German cook. He was a reasonable guy who worked in the barn next to the house, which served as a kitchen for the troops. The cook took the bullets and went on with his work. A moment later the boy appears with more bullets on the kitchen steps. "Where do you find those bullets anyway?" Asked the cook worried. Peter shrugged: "Well, in the schoolyard, there are whole boxes full with them!"
Ko en Pier van ’t Westeinde
The aforementioned Ko van 't Westeinde and his brother Pier were sons of a family of seven children. Since 1935, they had the fruit tree nursery 't Westhof inherited from their father, Piertje. He was named Piertje because he was so small in stature (Pier is a local abbreviation of Peter and “-tje” means little). This nursery was in the hamlet Baarsdorp in the municipality of 's-Heer Arendskerke, within the ring dike formed by the Westhofsezandweg, the Grote Dijk and the Kwekerijweg. The brothers Ko and Pier were cousins of Piet van den Dries. The nursery they owned, was founded in 1870 by their grandfather Jacobus van den Dries who was also the grandfather of Peter. This nursery is still located on the Wesdijk in Heinkenszand. A brother and a sister from the family of Jacobus, had married a brother and sister from the family farm Cornelis van 't Westeinde, making these two families closely intertwined. So Maria, the mother of Ko and Piet van 't Westeinde, was a Van den Dries and Cornelia, the mother of Piet van den Dries, was a Van' t Westeinde. Piertje van 't Westeinde, the father of Ko and Pier, had acquired the nursery at the Westdijk of his father Jacobus. At the Westdijk, the children of Piertje and his wife Mary were also born, including Ko and Pier. Piertje did a good business growing yew trees. They flourished well in the Zealand climate. He also had foreign customers and later expanded the nursery from profits. He bought ‘t Westhof (the Western Yard) at the Westhofsezandweg. 't Westhof had two farms. This nursery is where walnuts are now grown and is to this day still run by members of the family van 't Westeinde. Piet van 't Westeinde, a son of Ko, told me that as a boy he was living with his grandfather, uncle and aunt in the other farm' t Westhof. This was done because it was a little cramped with seven children at Ko and Nele. Therefore, Piet commuted back and forth between the two farms of the nursery and occasionally heard on the way, cursing and clamor of the German soldiers from where they were quartered. He told me that when he came home and wanted to share his new German vocabulary on his grandpa, included scheisse (shit) donner wetter (statement which expresses surprise or indignation), his grandpa Piertje didn’t appreciate it and gave him a smack on the ears.
The 40-year-old Ko was married to Nele Rijk who was always dressed in the traditional style of the Catholic women of South Beveland. Ko and Nele lived on the farm in Baarsdorp and got six sons: Piet, Martien, Kees, Bas, Wim and Jan, and a girl, Marietje. When mobilization began, Ko was also called up for military service. He worked as an aide (motorordonnans (a military motorcyclist, who maintains messaging) in Meerkerk (a village in the Dutch province of South Holland). After the German invasion a platoon of German soldiers was billeted in a barn on his farm. Ko was on of the first members of the OD. He was appointed by district commander Pete Kloostermane to be the section head of the OD, because of his military experience and the opportunities he had on his farm. His district consisted of Nisse, 's-Heer Arendskerke, the ‘s-Heer Abtskerke and part of Goes. From early 1944, the former deputy mayor of Goes, A. de Roo was one of the closest associates of Peter Kloosterman and also his successor. Ko was also a local commander of the hamlet Baarsdorp and managed a group of about ten men. When the forced employment came, Ko quickly started placing and hiding people who fled this law as servants in his nursery.
Ko was not a section head of Heinkenszand. He was initially only indirectly involved in the Group Griep in Heinkenszand, but later he would closely cooperate with them. In 1944 when the Allies asked the opposition groups to create warring partisan groups, Ko in the summer of 1944 arranged a dropping of firearms and ammunition in his country by an Allied plane. At night, he and his staff were waiting by the burning barrels that they had put on the edges of the pasture. The plan was canceled at the last moment, because it was feared that the quartered Germans would notice. Thus the shortage of weapons remained a problem for the newly created partisan groups.
The 36-year-old brother of Ko, Pier 't Westeinde who actually was called Pieter, was not married when this story took place. He lived with his father Piertje, his sister Cornelia and his nephew Piet on the other farm of the estate, in Baarsdorp. During the occupation, he helped his older brother by spreading false identity cards, food stamps and finding different hiding places for refugees.
There were other men who were affiliated with the resistance from Heinkenszand. Accountant Kees Paauwe, reportedly a man with a remarkably loud voice, was a good friend of Nico Biezen. Kees could speak good German and often negotiated many affairs with the Germans. He also tried to pry information from them. Kees Franse, the local community beadle (a sort of jack-of-all trades in the service of the community), was also employed at the Air Protection Department. He is mentioned as an important source of information. Moreover, by his position, he could easily steal the necessary forms and stamps from the town. Also, the milkman Geschiere with his knowledge of the villagers and the environment was an important source of information. Around the core group also hung a group of boys aged about 23. If anything had to be stolen, such as ration cards, they were sometimes used. If those coupons were transported in bags to the Distributor, the boys came into action and they attacked the messenger. They also went regularly to fight in the village of Wolphaartsdijk, because there was a large group of boys there, which were pro-German.
The sabotage actions of the Group Griep happened initially on the night when they burned down the threshing machines that were only be used for supplying the Germans. In response the German authority made two random citizens guard the threshers every night. If there was a sabotage action like a machine fire, then the next day those two people were shot. Because the group did not want the death of their fellow villagers on their conscience, the members of the group decided on less prominent acts of resistance to strike and sabotage.
1: Mayor dr. mr. A.J.J.M. Mes from Middelburg, was from July 1926 to January 1944 Mayor of Heinkenszand. He was from July 1935 to September 1941 a member of the Provincial Council of Zeeland and from June 1937 to June 1946 member of the House of Representatives. He also was from July 1936 to September 1939 Mayor of Ovezande.
2: The task of these weapons inspector was the incorporation of the Wehrmacht orders in industry and promoting smooth export.
3: As of this writing, there is in this building on the main street one clothing store located.
4: The Rommel asparagus were named after the German General-Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, also called the desert fox for his campaigns in North Africa. Rommel was from November 1943 responsible for the defense of the Atlantic Wall. He found in his office an inefficient organization. From the moment he took command, he led the pace and he decreed that the beaches were filled with various barriers including put his name "asparagus". After the failed attempt on Hitler Rommel was suspected to be involved. On October 14, 1944 he was forced to commit suicide by means of a poison pill.
5: A wooden construction in which a farmer's horse was being put, so the blacksmith could work on its hoofs.
6: A response from the Circle Leader Circle 48 on the Group Leader Goes.
7: Because the current month names didn’t sound enough like Dutch, the nationalistic NSB used alternate month names. The Sprokkelmaand (the month of gathering dry wood) stood for February.
Pictures from Noodsein Boven Zeeland
(photo 005) The letter Piet van den Dries received about the children's broadcast.
Suus and her husband Sergeant Nico van Biezen in his uniform of the Horse Artillery Corps.
A map of Heinkenszand 1942, which clearly shows that the village was created by reclamation.
Rechts, a town in Heinkenszand. (Mrs. Leu of Swaluw-Faes)
The homes of members of the Groep Griep in Heinkenszand.
The mayor of Heinkenszand Dr. Mr. . Aloys Mes. (Catholic Documentation Centre)
A clock stolen from Kortgene, on which a white P is painted. (Zeeland Library / Image Database Zealand)
The family of Kees Griep July 1945.
(photos 014, 015 and 016)
From left to right: Nico van Biezen, Kees Griep en Piet van den Dries.
(photos 017, 018, 019)
From left to right: Ko van 't Westeinde, his brother Pier and a catalog from their nursery.
The family of Ko van 't Westeinde.
(photo 021) The R.K. St. Joseph School headmaster left the home of Piet van den Dries and left the school.
The Kerkdreef in the foreground of the old gate of the castle and at the end of the St. Blasius Church.
A copy of the letter from the NSB leader in Goes inquiring about the political affinities of Piet van den Dries.