May 7 1945
A dramatic liberation day.
A true story, from the memory of a bar woman from Amsterdam: Berendina Annagina Meijer.
Born: January 10 1918 in Ontstwedde
Married: Octobre 10 1940 in Amsterdam, and became then Dien Nieuwmeijer-Meijer.
Everybody in Amsterdam was that last weekend very happy. After all the Germans had capitulated on May 5.
Finally liberated, after the last hunger winter, that also left his marks in Amsterdam.
Myself, 27 years old, skinny and weight +/- 43 kg. My husband Harry was forced to work for 1,5 year in Germany. Since 4 weeks he was back in Holland. He escaped during the bombardments on Hamburg and came to Amsterdam biking and hiking. Before his deportation he had seen our child for only 6 months. Our Gerard was born in March 1943. You must understand, that our house, Prins Hendrikkade 46 stood in the so called Sperzone.
That was an protected area on the Prins Hendrikkade, that goes from the Victoria Hotel to the Martelaarsgracht. The Germans used the Victoria Hotel and the Lloyd Building. The original residents had to show a special pass that they lived there.
Together we had a small pub, on 46 and our neighbour had a tobacco store. These two little houses were completely surrounded by the Victoria Hotel.
On the third floor was our kitchen with a small balcony.
On May 7 in the morning my husband and Harry walked to the Dam, because the rumour was that the Canadians would come. Around noon he walked home and said to me “nothing, no Canadians. You just go looking with Gerard.”
I walked to the Dam with our little boy who just could walk. Via the Damrak to the Dam. When we arrived there it was crowded. Everybody was in a cheerful and elated mood. A barrel organ was playing songs.
It was also a beautiful spring day. Suddenly there was a cheer. From the direction of the Damrak a military truck came along. Everybody thought there are the Canadians. The crowd began to wave elated.
But what happened? The soldier on the truck were Germans and they were so frustrated, that they were shooting in the air just to scare us. People ran in all directions.
At the same time, the soldiers of the Marine situated in the Groote Club, thought that their fellow soldiers were being shot on the Dam. The windows of the Groote Club(building on the Dam)were thrown open. Next, aimed shots were fired on the running crowd. The noise of machine-guns and other weapons sounds through the air. I screamed of fear and a man pulled me behind the barrel organ. That gave a little cover.
We had crawled with 10 a 12 persons behind the barrel organ. To the left and right from us men and women fell down wounded.
We heard the bullets smashed into the barrel organ. It was a nightmare. Gerard was screaming. Total chaos.
After a few minutes, it looks like hours, an unknown man said to me:”The shooting is decreasing, let us go to Krasnapolsky, it’s safer there.”
He took me by the arm , and run! I had never run that fast in my live. We reached Krasnapolsky unscathed. The man said to me be careful and disappeared in the crowd.
Krasnapolsky was packed, nobody was allowed to go inside. They said there is no place. Then I decided to go home via the Warmoestraat by myself. In front of Krasnapolsky were standing the Domestic Armed Forces with guns,
also at the beginning of the Warmoestraat. They were very nervous and ordered me to walk through and as fast as I could. I walked into the Warmoestraat in the direction of the Prins Hendrikkade. There was hardly nobody on the street. Very spooky. My baby started to cry again. I felt terrified. At the end of the Warmoestraat were standing groups of Domestic Armed Forces. They commanded me to walk on. Just over the bridge and then I should be at home.
Walking on the bridge, I saw to my consternation, the truck with the Germans who had been shooting on the Dam in the air. And they were the cause of the massacre that follows on that.(Afterwards I heard that there were 19 dead and many wounded people). The truck drove through our roadblock and stopped in front of our closed pub. I was almost at home, at that moment about 20 German soldiers got out of the truck. They surrounded me at once and didn’t looked friendly to me. I held my pass in front of me and walked to the door of the pub.
In the last year of the war there was no more beer or beverage for sale. The pub was closed. I was very scared and dropped my keys twice.On my other arm was our baby. Nobody said or did anything. Finally I was inside.
The soldiers from the truck were staying at the Victoria Hotel. They were from the Ordnungs-Polizei.
I was standing in a empty pub with the curtains closed, and wanted to go upstairs. Suddenly there was a heavily shooting outside. Immediately I ran with Gerard to the basement, I tied him up on a beer pipe, and ran upstairs, 3 stairs, till the kitchen. The shooting got worse, and I became curious about what was going on. I crawled on my belly to the balcony and looked over the edge. I saw and hear a complete war. To the left and to the right of me the rifles and machine-guns stabbed out of the windows of theVictoria Hotel. The Germans shot to the middle part of the Centraal Station that was apparently occupied by the Domestic Armed Forces(I heard that later on).
In the right wing of the Centraal Station were the Germans. They were shooting in the direction of the Sint Nicolaas Kerk and the beginning of the Warmoestraat.
In front of our house used to be a park with a teahouse. Afterwards it disappeared because of the rise of the traffic. In the park were since a short time trenches. The soldiers of the truck were standing in the trenches and shot in the direction of the Centraal Station and the Sint Nicolaas Kerk were also the Domestic Armed Forces were shooting. While I was looking with a pounding heart I saw several German soldiers collapse in the trenches.
Suddenly the shooting stopped. The reason was a motorbike with sidecar who came riding from the Damrak with a white flag. They stopped by our neighbor, the tobacco store. At the same time I saw a German soldier standing up from the trench, aims his gun and shoot. With one shot he kills guard Jan de Jongh through the heart. He glides from his motorbike on the street. To my surprise a furious German soldier gets out of the sidecar and started to scream that the shooting has to stop. Also the man who sat behind de Jongh, with a Domestic Armed Forces band, also screamed to stop. Afterwards I heard that this guy was the Commander of the Domestic Armed Forces of Amsterdam. There was no more shooting. Then I realized that my husband Harry wasn’t there. Because of all the nerves I completely forgot him. After 30 minutes he rang at the door, he was worried and was looking for me. Because of the shooting on the Dam he ran outside without his keys. He told me that he walked to the Dam via the Nieuwendijk were he hardly saw somebody. On the Dam they were still busy to transport the victims.
Harry was worried about me and our baby Gerard. Lucky for us it had a happy ending. I must tell that ,6 or 7 deceased and wounded Germans, immediately were transported by a ambulance.
Guard De Jongh was taken away after 1,5 hour by a wooden car ambulance. My husband had lay down a sheet over him and wiped away the blood with a bucket of sand.
The Memorial Stone is still present on the wall of the Victoria Hotel. Guard De Jongh had no single change.
In the end I realized that looking on my stomach could have ended worse.
Youthful recklessness. I had that day a guardian angel!
Mrs. Dien Nieuwmeijer Meijer
Source: received by her son Gerard Nieuwmeijer
Picture 3 shows the balcony where Dien was during the shooting at Central Station
photo’s: Stadsarchief Amsterdam