* Hengelo March 13 1916
† Amsterdam May 7 1945
Fredericus Johannes (Frits) Budde and Theodora Maria Sötebeer had three sons and one daughter. One of their sons, Fredericus (Herman) Josephus Budde, married Klasina Kok from Zaandam in 1937. They moved to Zieseniskade 21-2 in November 1944.
Freddy died on the Dam on May 7 at 3 pm due to gunshot wounds. He was 29 years old. His wife Klasina was left behind with 3 small children, two sons and one daughter, Dora. Klasina fought for recognition as a war widow and sought compensation for years; her daughter Dora continued this strife.
Dora: When everybody was partying on the Dam on May 7, 1945, my father was killed by German soldiers. Even though it has been 68 years: “I still feel the pain”.
“I only have one memory of my father: we were moving from one apartment in Amsterdam to another with a horse-drawn cart. I sat in the cart and stared at my father’s back as he was driving the horse. That may have been 69 years ago, but I still see this picture very clearly.
I was born right in the middle of WWII. For my parents this was a disastrous time. In 1943 all men between 18 and 35 had to report for “Arbeitseinsatz”, to work in Germany. My father did not want to leave his family but they found him and shipped him off to a German machine factory. He escaped twice and – helped by the resistance –went into hiding in Amsterdam.
Finally, on May 5, 1945, Holland was liberated and 5 years of repression came to an end. My parents were so happy and relieved. In the morning of May 7 my father told my mother: “Darling, we’re about to start a new life. Let’s go into town to welcome the Canadian liberators.”
He took my 7-year old brother and went ahead. My mother was going to meet them at the Dam, bringing my 1-1/2 year old brother and me, 3 years old. At the Dam there were thousands of elated people. A singing, dancing crowd, happy as could be. Flowers everywhere. Music from the street organs. The colors orange and red-white-blue again for the first time since the war.
But then at 3 pm we suddenly heard the sound of guns. A unit of the Kriegsmarine was still present in De Groote Club, right next to the Royal Palace. German soldiers who had not yet been disarmed. From the roof they started shooting, looking grim. Bullets everywhere. Panic too. Crying, pushing, children who got trampled.
My mother missed it all. When we were on our way to the Dam, we were stopped: “Don’t go, don’t go”, people were calling out in a panic, they’re shooting”. Later that evening my brother was found somewhere in town, covered in blood, but alive.
Unfortunately my father had not been so lucky. I was still too young to be part of it, but for my mother this was one big nightmare. Suddenly she had to raise three young children by herself. She had no choice but to remarry and that she did: within two years to a widower with four children. Together they had another two kids. So suddenly we were with 11 at home. Nobody ever mentioned my father. Never. I didn’t know any better than that he had been taken to Russia or Germany as a prisoner and that he would come back one day. That’s what my mother told me.
That may have been very naive but as a child you believe this. My father would be back. Period.
My stepfather was my new father, so I was supposed to call him ‘dad’ and when I went to school he also wanted me to take his last name. I refused to do either After all, he was not my father, I knew that all too well. My stepfather was not a pleasant man, not very loving. At school I was often called names such as ‘long board’ or ‘freckle queen’ which gave me an inferiority complex. But one day when I had pictures taken in town, the photographer asked if he could put my photo’s in the shop window. I was so pleased and I came home with my head in the clouds. “What! You? How could he possibly ask you?”, my stepfather reacted.
At those times I really missed my father. He would have reacted differently. He would have given me more support. In my thoughts my father was always better, nicer and stronger than any other father. I romanticized. He may not have been like that at all, but I never knew him. The picture I saw in my head was a sweet, calm man, a fountain of life wisdom, just like my grandfather. When I was 13 my mother asked if it would be alright if our father’s grave was removed. The grave? I didn’t even know of its existence. Only then did it hit me: my father was dead. Killed in the war. And he will never be back. Never. That hurt immensely, too much for both my mother and me to ever talk about it. That is the reason why the whole situation surrounding my father was still not discussed. The grave, however, was removed.
When I was 19 I married my great love. In the following years we had children. However happy that made me, it also made me very sad. Why couldn’t my father have lived to be part of this? Still, I always felt his presence. As a guardian angel. Like this one time when I walked alongside a lonely park at night and a car started driving next to me, very slowly. My hair was standing on end. What to do? All sorts of images flashed through my head and I rapidly crossed the street and ran to a house where the lights were still on. The man who lived there brought me home safely. It felt like my father helped me that time.
I also think I may have seen my father on television. My husband and I were watching tv and suddenly they showed images of May 7. I didn’t even know there were any from that day at the Dam. However upsetting it was, my eyes were glued to the screen. Every time I saw a dead body lying there, I thought: could that be my father?
Aside from my own loss I also really felt sorry for my mother. The love of her life had been killed, so senseless. She was never as happy as she had been with him. It makes me feel so sorry for her. It took a very long time before she was considered a widow of a civilian war victim. They said: The war lasted from May 10, 1940, until May 5, 1945. These shootings took place on May 7, so you are not entitled to benefits. Such is the law.
It is somewhat unbelievable how relentless these institutions could be. We lived in poverty. My brothers and I did well in school but there was no money for further education. On the contrary, we had to get a job when we were 14. Only in the late 1980’s, 40 years after my father was killed, my mother finally received the status “widow of a civilian war victim”. I think that is outrageous. She received pittance, But finally, during that time, we had some intense conversations about my father. Only then did I hear the details. That was very emotional.
I never talk about our father with my brothers, for my eldest brother who was there at the Dam it is too emotional. That is why I find it very comforting to be able to go to a spot where I can remember my father. For me that is the Dam. I live in Amsterdam North so the Dam is on the way when I go to the movies or the theater. That makes me happy. Sometimes I spend hours just sitting there on a bench and wonder where it happened. Those moments give me solace.
I used to hate Germans. I would get goose bumps whenever I heard anybody speaking that language. And when I saw a German, I wondered if he could have been my father’s killer. But then I read the words ‘hate destroys oneself’ and I realized that we should be able to forgive. But the word ‘war’ still makes me afraid. I cannot watch a war movie or read a book about the war. It hurts too much. For more than 50 years I pray before I go to bed: let there be no more wars. For many people it is normal that they live in a country where peace has reigned for so long. But for me it’s something very valuable, something I am grateful for every day.
Every year on May 7 at 3 pm I burn a candle for my father. In 2010 it had been exactly 65 years. I woke up that morning and felt I wanted to do something special. I took two large pieces of paper and I wrote: “On May 7, 1945 my father was shot and killed on the Dam”. On the one piece of paper in Dutch, on the other in English. I attached these with twine and hung them over my shoulders so one was in front and the other in back. I thought: Am I brave enough to go outside? But I decided to do it and walked to the Dam.
I got a lot of attention. Some people only looked at me, others stopped to talk. A boy of about 10 who was there with his mother had just learned about May 7 at school so it made a big impression on him to see me standing like that. I ended up staying from 11 till 7 and at the end of the day I was dead tired but felt so euphoric. This was my way to commemorate my father.
It has now been 68 years since my father died. And even though I never really got to know him, it still hurts immensely to talk about him. How can it be, I sometimes wonder. But he was my father. His blood is mine. I am convinced that my father will be waiting for me when I die. A very comforting feeling.
Source: Weekly “Vriendin.nl”, nr 18 2013.
Article Dutch newspaper “The Telegraaf” edition May 7 1982