At the end of the war, Henk (*1940) was living in the Driehoekstraat, located in the “Jordaan” one of the typical Amsterdam living quarters, near to the Willemsstraat and at a 40 minutes walking distance from the Dam. On that specific day he was, together with his mother and father, at the Dam to welcome the liberators. He wrote down his memories for our site.
As a little boy I was at the time of this incident also at the Dam. I have told my experiences and memories many times to my children and grandchildren; most of the times during the yearly rememberance days of WW2. After almost 70 years most of the details are still in my memory. I can still hear the shooting and see the dead bodies on the street. The BS ( Dutch resistance groups)would have started the shooting. Comments of the public, at the very moment of the incident, in the bank office (see below) and also in the period after were blaming the BS. During the period that I fulfilled my military obligations I was trained in shooting with the heavy .50 as well Browning .30 machine guns and with this experience I know for sure that in case the Germans started the shooting incident with directed fire with a machine gun at the public there would have been a multiple (deadly) victims. From my point of view it must have been a warning burst with a machine gun over the heads of the public given by the Germans, which felt themselves threatened by a few aggressive BS- platoons.
At the beginning of the massacre my father, together with a few other people forced the entrance of the bank located at the corner of the Dam and Damrak. I was pulled at my hair over the heads of other people inside the bank by my dad. Result of this action was that I lost an important part of my, in those times still luxuriant hair. I remember that we have waited quite a long time on the first floor of the building till the shooting was over. I know that, together with a few other children I found shelter behind a closet in the office room.
I’m touched especially by a published photo, from my viewpoint the first alleyway coming from the Damin the direction of the Central Station at your left hand side. In the past there was a large billboard with the text “Woltering” on the sidewall of the building. When the situation was safe enough we were, guided by boy scouts via that specific alley to the Nieuwendijk. I saw for sure more than one dead body in the Vinkensteeg. The years after I was always frightened to walk through this alley.
Henk de Brueijs, Juni 2014
English translation by Henk de Brueijs