REGIONAL COMMANDER-BATTLE PART-DOMESTIC ARMED FORCES
Concerning the incident on the Dam in the centre of the city Amsterdam on May 7 1945
In the afternoon of May 7 I found myself, C.F.Overhoff, Regional Commander of the Battle Part of the Domestic Armed Forces in District 10, at around 03:00pm at the Dam in the front of the entrance of Hotel Krasnapolsky.
I was there, because I had to guide two Allied officers on their request to the office of the A.N.P. I was facing the Royal Palace and heard a shot. The Dam was filled with a crowd of people who walked up en down; there was music playing.
A little later I heard a second shot, however the crowd didn’t move. Immediately after that I observed that German soldiers were located before the entrance and on the balcony of the Groote Club and a little later I saw those soldiers shooting into the crowd in the direction Nieuwendijk. Just a little later followed by two series of shots from machine-guns, also fired from the Groote Club.
Many shots followed and in the meantime the crowd left in panic the Dam. The shooting continued and I saw how in the Warmoestraat at the corner of the Dam, the men from the Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten (Domestic Armed Forces) came towards and took position on the corner from the Bijenkorf.
Meanwhile both Canadian officers came on the street and one of them took over a Dutch carbine with the intention to fire at the Groote Club. I asked them not to, just as I did compare to my own men. The Canadian officer asked me: “You don’t want me to fire, and added to it, all right, then I won’t do it” and gave the carbine back to me. Prescient that this incident would assume a larger size, as known in similar cases, I considered what to do.
I decided that the only thing to do was, in accompany of a German officer returning to the place of the incident and proceed by motorcycle to the Kommandantur on the Museumplein, where I and the Ortskommandant the guidance of a German officer claimed. I was accompanied by the Hauptmann Bergmann from the Feldengendarmerie and he took his place in the sidecar, while I took a seat behind the motorcyclist.
The Hauptmann asked me what happened and I told him about the shooting. He asked me which Germans were shooting and I answered that it came from the Groote Club. He said to me: “Das ist natürlich wieder die verdammte Marine, welch eine Schweinerei.
We drove in the direction of the Dam, along the N.Z. Voorburgwal near the St. Luciensteeg, the street was evacuated while in all side streets were civilians.
We left the motorcycle behind us and the Hauptmann, my motorcyclist (guard of the Military Police) and I proceed on foot in the direction of the Dam. We heard in front of us shots from all sites. We entered the Paleisstraat, we forced the fence in front of the Groote Club and rushed forwards. The Hauptmann asked me for the Hauptmann (Commander), he was upstairs. All four floors and the roof were taken by the Germans in alarm position, the machine-gun in the back of the room, men shooting and ready to fire. The Hauptmann and I gave the order to cease fire, and finally when we arrived on the attic we found the Commander. The Hauptmann ordered that no single shot should be fired. At his question why there was a shooting, he answered that it was at the people of the resistance; they should started the shooting.
In the meantime I observed that the fire direction was only into direction Nieuwendijk – Damrak. We went downstairs and on the street, walking along the Palace to the Mozes-en Aaronstraat. There were members of the Domestic Armed Forces in the post office and in the back entrance of the Palace, while about 100 yards further, more North, a little further the Gravenstraat, there were standing three German jeeps, and from all sites Germans were firing in houses and porches in Southern direction. I ordered the members of the Domestic Armed Forces to hold fire and the Hauptmann asked the same from the Germans.
I ordered everyone to go inside and to close the windows. The Hauptmann gathered the Germans and withdraw the jeeps into Gravenstraat. After all became quiet, we walked to the Dam, passing the Bijenkorf to the Warmoestraat, while I ordered the members of the Domestic Armed Forces to return to their quarters. I must hereby mention that between the Palace and the post office an abandoned Ueberfallwagen from the Grune Polizei stood, without any notices were the men were hiding. After also the corner of the Warmoestraat was cleared, we walked back over the Dam to the backside of the Palace and collected our motorcycle. With this we returned, pawing the Dam and drove to the Damrak. Even this was completely deserted, while the civilians were in the side streets and alleys. The Dam itself offered a sad sight and we observed that the deceased only laid in front of the Nieuwe Kerk, the entrance from the Nieuwendijk and the houses to the right and left from it, only hit by German bullets.
It was the Hauptmann who especially paid attention to this. Besides the consequences from the panic were: broken cycles, hats, shoes, etc. Halfway through the Damrak we bumped into some members of the Domestic Armed Forces who I let go return into the houses. Progressing in the direction of the Central Station we heard a lively gunfight and arriving at the corner of the Victoria Hotel, the motorcyclist were shot by a deadly shot in the heart. He died at once and slipped sideways out of the saddle. Because his last action was to convert the motorcycle in free gear, I succeeded in bringing the vehicle to a standstill so that no further accident occurred.
On the spot we found the Grune Polizei, taking cover in the park of the Warmoestraat, there were two men killled in action. I concluded that the shot must been fired from the neighborhood of the Central Station, because we drove ourselves in that direction. I walked into the direction of the Warmoestraat over the bridge and over the Damrak, I found there also men who belong to my side, and let them return into the houses. I let them withdraw out of the houses along the Warmoestraat, which from the backsides had a view at the Victoria Hotel. In the meantime the situation got complicated, because at the same time about 20 German soldiers arrived on bikes, they saw our men, immediately jumped from their bike and aimed their rifle. The Hauptmann and I had to calm down those men as well and send them away. On the spot were standing two German jeeps, the passengers were in the houses, next to the house were my men. The passengers of the jeeps were summoned to the jeeps.
The Hauptmann returned to the Victoria Hotel and I went along the Prins Hendrikkade to the East wing of the Central Station. Two German Uberfallwagens stood there, and one deceased person. The centre of the Central Station was occupied by my men, withdrawn. The east part of the Central Station was occupied by the Germans and it was their turn to calm down. After that, no shots were heard anymore.
I went to the Victoria Hotel, I found back the Hauptmann and a little later arrived a German jeep, because we couldn’t use our motorcycle.(This motorcycle was not damaged, and the next day I picked it up, while the killed guard was moved to the Zuiderkerk). With the German jeep we had to move in the direction of the Dam, Rokin to Amsterdam-Zuid. The Hauptmann found this dangerous. However he got into the jeep, while I told him that I would protect him and I took place on the bonnet. Without any incident we passed the Dam and the Rokin, near the Spui I met a few of my men, I ordered them to go back to their quarters.
With this, the incident came to an end and also my eyewitness report.
I have to add the following:
I didn’t establish the source of the shooting. In similar cases, one shot provokes another. One thing is sure, that the members of the Domestic Armed Forces (except the ones who had their duty on the street) came outside after shooting started. I still believe that the chosen solution was the only way to restrict the disaster. If it wasn’t possible to restrict, it would, in view of the number of armed German soldiers on the spot, it would have been disastrous.
It is my duty to be thankful to Hauptmann Bergmann, who assists me whenever I asked him, although he didn’t know the risks. He assisted me dynamically and not afraid to seize when it was necessary, while he shared the danger of the intervention with me. The same honor goes to the guard De Jong, who accompanied us.
I observed that both parties, the German as well as the Dutch, were extremely nervous, but both parties responded to our commands.
Concerning the Dutch, they stand the test by follow up my instructions and commands, there discipline was outstanding and the Hauptmann called this “fabelhaft”.
It was peculiar because it was the first time they worked on the surface and they saw me the first time as their commander. I thought that it would be good to dispose over a German report as well as mine, I asked the Hauptmann to write down his experience. He wrote his report and the next day I received it.
A copy as annex named as annex.
Amsterdam, may 9 1945
District Commander combatant area Domestic Armed Forces of the District 10 (Amsterdam and edge municipalities)