Frits Greefkes

Roswitha Greefkes approached us about a special story of Han Hutjes, also a victim of the Dam shooting:

What I know is that this young man saved the life of a five year old boy who stood in the middle of the line of fire.He saved the boy’s life but was hit fatal.
I know this because my father was this boy. Years later my father had an accident. He stayed for a long time in the hospital were he had nightmares about that day in question at the Dam, and he saw the face of the young man that rescued him.
Beause of that, my father approached the Telegraaf and his story is placed in that newspaper. Finally came the message that the mother of Han Hutjes was found. My father met her, and after her  death we received the painted portrait of Han Hutjes, what always hung in the living room.
On June 9 2002, my father died unexpected after a short illness, at the age of 61.
Every year on May 7 I think of the young man who saved my father’s life and lost his life.

The story of the father of Roswitha is printed in two publications of the Telegraaf in 1988

De Telegraaf May 5 1988 page 5

Who saved me from German shots at the Dam?

by Jos Noord.


For some people the war never ends, for others the liberation never ends. For example Frits Greefkes. He is now 47 years old. For him the ‘real liberation day’ begins if he knows who saved his life on May 7 1945 at the Dam, by pushing him aside, when vindictive German soldiers were shooting from the Grote Club on the dancing crowd.
The young man in a raincoat, who pushed away the 5 year old Frits from the bullets, and was hit fatal.
‘Every nigth I see his face’ Frits said to me’ I want to know who he was, maybe his parents are still alive or other family members. They have to know that I owe my life to him. That he didn’t die for nothing’.
Recently Frits had nightmares and wakes up in the middle of the night, screaming. ‘I fell two weeks ago from a ladder and being hospitalized with a concussion, I think about it every minute. I see every time the face of that man, especially at night. I’m in a cold sweat.
The night nurse asked me what’s going on. I see the face of that man, like he fell down with his beige rain coat’, Frits tells me in the hospital of Hoorn were he recovered from his concussion and the head wound which he gets after his fall from the ladder.
A lot has been written about the war and the shooting at the Dam. At any time a book has been published a photo,  in there you see a stretcher with the man on it who saved my life.
Maybe there are readers of the newspaper who remembered what happened on the corner of the Kalverstraat and the Dam. I was walking on the hand of my mother at the Dam. Everywhere people were dancing in groups because of the liberation,nearby a group of nurses danced with Red-Cross members in uniform. Suddenly there was a shooting from the Rokin. My mother, my little sister and I, we ran via the Dam in the direction of the Kalverstraat to search for shelter. There was also a shooting from the back of the Grote Club, panic arose. The bullets came from the Kalverstraat. A young man, age 20-25 years old, pushed me further back but was hit fatal.Who was that man? He saved my life but was killed. I have to know who he was, it’s become an obsession for me, Frits admitted, meanwhile housepainter in Hem, North-Holland.


The Telegraaf May 14 1988 page 18

Han Hutjes pushed Frits further back during the shooting at the Dam and was hit fatal.


It was the 19 year old schoolboy Han Hutjes, who was killed at the Dam on the moment that he saved the life of the 5 year old Frits Greefkes.
This is indisputable established when family members of Hutjes came to the house of Greefkes, in the village Hem, North-Holland, to show him a painting of the victim. Frits Greefkes recognized immediatelly
the red-haired young man who saved him his life.
Han Hutjes is buried on the cemetery ‘Moscowa’ near Arnhem, his residence. On his tombe is written how he was shot at the Dam May 7 in Amsterdam. The eldery mother of Han Hutjes lives in a home for the eldery in ‘s-Heerenberg. At the moment there are made appointments to bring Frits Greefkes in contact with the 89 year old mother.
With this identification has come an end to the many years of obsession of housepainter Frits Greefkes, now 47 years old, who always wanted to know who his rescuer was, he told it recently, when he was hospitalized after a fall from a ladder.
On Liberation Day, one and a half week ago, we wrote about it: Frits wasn’t able to to keep his mind on something else then his rescuer, he wakes up, screaming, in cold sweat, nightmares. Frits: ‘Who was that man?’.
He saved my life, but was killed. I had to know who he was! I’m glad and grateful that I know it. I only want to meet his mother so I can tell her that her son didn’t die for nothing. He saved my life.
On May 7 1945 Frits was pushed back, as a little boy, by a young man, when vindictive German soldiers of the Kriegsmarine shot from the Grote Club on the cheering crowd at the Dam in Amsterdam.
Frits, his mother and his sister ended up more or less by coincidence in the cheering crowd, they were heading home to the Orteliusstraat, walking, because there was no tram.
When the shooting started, with a machine-gun from the Rokin, panic arose. Frits, his little sister and their mother ran over the Dam to the Kalverstraat, near the Paleisstraat.
The bullets flew around, but little Frits was pushed backnear Peek & Cloppenburg by a red-haired young man in a raincoat, who fell down and was hit fatal.
In that panic people were overrun.That proves ten unique photos, who has been taken by photographer Hofman from the Amstelveenseweg, they are in the possession of Mr. A.P. de Graaf, and they show that the panic was enormous.
An eyewitness from then: “People left prams, umbrellas, shoes, bags behind them while they fled in fear. Some jumped through the windows of the Nieuwe Kerk, at the Nieuwendijk people were pushed through shop windows, everywhere you saw blood, and people lay at the Dam wounded or dead. You heard heartbreaking cries, but the shooting goes on, also when there was nobody at the Dam.
There were also shots from other buildings. I had lost all track of the situation.The gunfights between the Germans and the Domestic Armed Forces lasted for at least one hour.”

What was Han Hutjes from Arnhem doing on May 7 1945 at the Dam in Amsterdam?
His classmate from the Stedelijk Gymnasium from Arnhem, esquire F.C. van Nispen tot Sevenear from Bilthoven wrote to Frits Greefkes: “Han has gone to Amsterdam, because he had an uncle who worked in the soup kitchen. So it was possible for him to get hold of some food now and then”.
I’m very relieved said Frits Greefkes”. As soon as the doctor gives me permission, I just resigned from hospital, I will go to the mother of Han Hutjes in ‘s-Heerenberg. In the mean time I received a photo of Han, a picture from a painting, that his dead father, an architect from Arnhem, had made.
My wife and I are looking forward to go there. It makes me grateful”.

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