Central Station Amsterdam, May 7 1945
This incident is not very familiar, two days after the liberation two Dutch soldiers were killed by German bullets. Mentioned below is as good as possible a description on the foundation of the few available information.
After the first weekend, May 5 and 6 1945, the Dutch population were celebrating the liberation, also the next day May 7. Also on the Dam in Amsterdam, were many had gathered on this sunny day, the first allied forces were also expected. Not far away of the Dam the Centraal Station was occupied by the Department Midden-Centraal Station of the Domestic Armed Forces at 11:00am to prevent destruction by the German troops.
The Department was under command of the 29 year old reserve-second lieutenant Gerardus Cornelis Rutteman.
They were part of the object-detachement Centraal-Station, under object-commander reserve-captain Berckenhoff, and exited of three sections, total of 75 persons. two sections, three groups of each 6 men, armed with stenguns, took part of the occupation including staff and assistance of 45 persons. By the object-detachement also belonged Isa Baschwitz, dressed as a nurse with a white apron and cap. The present public in the station was removed through the entrance on the IJ-side. At the Centraal Station were German railway forces, at least 200 men. They were disarmed, checked and concentrated in a machine hangar, waiting for the departure of their trains.
At platform 5 stood also a train with at least 200 man(forces). These forces were also disarmed but in a very special way.
Isa Baschwitz in her nurse uniform, in company of one of the armed Domestic Armed Forces, she walked back and forth along the train and said every time in good German against the soldiers, war is over and it is useless to shed more blood. Deliver the weapons! They asked her all the time, for whom she was, and which side. Her answer was; “For peace”. This action of Isa Baschwitz resulted eventually in handing over the German weapons.
On May 7 an exploration division of the British 49e Infantry division, 32 men, 2 war correspondents, in 4 light armoured cars and 6 bren-carriers, from the frontline to the west and reached around 01:00pm the boarder of Amsterdam.
Earlier that day they were received enthusiastic in Utrecht and the Gooi, that it was difficult to hurry up. It also happened in Amsterdam. That’s why the exploration division reached the Dam much later.
As elsewhere the young people climbed upon the vehicles. Suddenly 2 jeeps of the Grune Polizei drove on the Dam. They stopped by the British jeeps in an attempt to chase away the people from the vehicles, they failed.
The Grunen disappeared quickly. After a while the British division also left the Dam in the direction of East Amsterdam.
After 03:00PM the shooting broke out, in which the men of the Kriegsmarine from the Groote Club, a building on the corner of the Kalverstraat and the Dam, started to shoot on the crowd on the Dam. With this fell more than 20 dead and dozens of wounded people. How the shooting developed is not known, because the odd thing is that there has been no investigation in search of the cause. Therefor there are different stories circulating. The shooting started by a German soldier because an Domestic Armed Force wanted to disarmed him. Or the Germans didn’t agree about the treatment that women who were friends with the Germans were going through a special hair-treatment.
The whole thing degenerated into a severe shooting between the Domestic Armed Forces and the Germans, they even fired with machine-guns into the crowd.
From the first shots the civilians tried to seek a good place on the Damrak and in the surrounding streets. A little later there sounded more shots, from the corner of the Rokin, when the Grune Polizei, under intense shooting ,try to reach with their patrol car the Centraal Station across the Dam.
During the shooting was the commander of the Domestic Armed Forces in Amsterdam, C.F.Overfhoff, on the Vijgendam, now part of the Dam, were the National Monument stands. He understood he had to interfere immediately to prevent worse. Everywhere in the city walked Domestic Armed Forces around and watched over buildings, but there were still German troops, like the Waffen- SS in the Victoria Hotel. At once he went with his motorcycle with sidecar, driven by the guard of the Military Police Jan de Jongh, to the Ortskommandantur at the Museumplein.
Driven back with a Hauptmann from the Feldgendarmerie appeared at the arrival on the Dam, that the shooting already had stopped. That had happened by the intervention of the Domestic Armed Forces,they had occupied the Palace and fired bazooka-grenades on the Groote Club. Earlier you could clearly hear the riffle-and machine-gun fire from the direction of the Dam. Rutteman, not knowing what was going on, decided to stop the disarming.
The section under command of Klaver got the order to occupy the hall of the station at the entrance. The other section under commander J.Lok was at the Centraal Station active on platform 6c. He got the order to gather his section.
At 08:03PM the third section, 2 groups, in total 13 men, under commander Van Galen Last, according to an earlier appointment,from the Oudezijds Achterburgwal arrived. Van Galen Last mentioned that there was a shooting on the Dam and that he in tirailleurcolonne along the houses was pulled up to the Centraal Station. Rutteman decided on that to arm his men with captured German guns. At 03:30pm Klaver reported from the hall of the Centraal Station, that the Grune Polizei,about 30 men, came in position on the bridge near the Victoria Hotel in the direction of the Damrak, possible Polizisten, they passed earlier intensely shooting the Dam. At once after that report, Lok arrived, one group, the group Schoen, had left behind as a back-up by the entrance IJ-side. He suggested to take position with two other groups on the top floor of the Centraal Station, by which Rutteman agreed.
From there could be fired in the direction of the Dam and covering fire from the west and east wings of the building. Van Galen Last had to occupy the first platform by the western access with his groups.
Rutteman gave the order that you only should fire, if the German offensive would act against the Centraal Station.In these circumstances it was not possible for Rutteman to send an aide-de-camp to the object-commander with the question for further orders. There was no connection possible, when Isa Baschwitz offered to take a message through the German lines to the object-commander, Rutteman accepted that gladly.
Dressed in her nursing-uniform she hoped that the Germans would look at her as a German nurse, like the ones who are camped in the Boerhaave Kliniek. German troops who arrived later,they were lined up at the Stationsplein, they told her to “Stop” and she was told to go back. They fired on her. Isa Baschwitz just walked through. For her safety the Domestic Armed Forces didn’t answer the shooting.
When the Germans at the Stationsplein discovered that the Centraal Station was occupied they opened fire. From German side fell a lot of shots. The fire was answered by the Domestic Armed Forces. For the Germans there was nothing else to do then seek for cover under the western roof, especially against the fire from the top from section Lok. At 03:40pm the Grune Polizei left with two cars, one car of the Red Cross,from the Martelaarsgracht to the main entrance on the west side. At the same time a group of about 30 men, Grune Polizei,left from the east side under cover of the staff of the Red Cross along the Centraal Station also to the western roof.
Although they tried to open the doors of the main entrance, it was not a very serious attempt to get in the Station. Klaver gave the order not to shoot.By the shooting of section Lok, Sergeant Theo van Dijk, gave order from the first floor of frontal fire, later he changed position in west direction to shoot in flank fire. At that place he came heavily under fire, but remains on his post. After all he got seriously wounded by a shot in his jaw.
When the shooting at the Centraal Station started, Department East arrived, 2 sections under commander Horst Baschwitz, brother of Isa Baschwitz, by the Olofspoort, near the Nicolaaskerk on the Prins Hendrikkade.
Immediately they took part in the gunfight. Unfortunately they fired also on the Centraal Station, there was no damage, when they noticed the shooting form there.
Just before the arrival of the Grune Polizei Sergeant Willem Hendrik Zeeman arrived with a message from the Districtcommander at the Centraal Station. Zeeman found a working telephone and search for Rutteman so he could make contact with the Districtcommander. Arriving at the police post, they were surrounded by the Grune Polizei, they were peeking through the windows. That’s why the police refused Rutteman in his uniform inside. He removed his uniform so he could call with the Districtcommander. Through the phone, a deputy of the Districtcommander, told him not to fire, except when the Grune Polizei wanted to penetrate the building.
The shooting however had begun. The Grune Polizei tried to force the entrance of the police-post, reason for Rutteman and Zeeman to run away. Rutteman, without uniform, went through several dark passages to the underground tunnel in the western wing. Walking to the middle he heard the Germans forcing the building and the noise of breaking glass, and also the shots and whining of the wounded. Zeeman wanted to withdraw himself via the luggage compartment to the hall, but bumped on the Grune Polizei. Later on he seems to have shoot down a Grune, before he, 22years old, was killed by a shot in the back of his head.
When Hein Kop from the section Lok fetched for ammunition he found Zeeman. Rutteman’s wayback was cut off by these action of the Germans. He try to reach the first platform by the elevator shaft, but that failed.
Eventually he could sneak unseen on the stairs. The section Van Galen Last got hit by snipers. Nevertheless, he and also Klaver, got the order not to start the fight before the Centraal Station will be attacked. With Lok was no contact. His section was brought upstairs by a railway man, he had not much people to send an aide-de-camp and had to arrange everything. The other way around Rutteman couldn’t reach him, he was not familiar with the building.
In the mean time Isa Baschwitz had got contact with the adjudant of the object-commander, who told her that he had spoken Zeeman on the phone about 5 minutes earlier. On the way back she met the object-commander herself, who just got the message that all act of war had to stop. She had to tell this to Rutteman. Straigth across the shooting she brought the news of cease fire in the first place to the German men in the Victoria Hotel and also the announcement that very soon a German officer would verify the message. Their reaction was that there was still a shooting from the Centraal Station on them. Her intention was also to bring the message about the cease fire to them. On her way to the Grune Polizei at the western entrance she was covered in her back. She also reported the message. By the fire of the Domestic Armed Forces out of the Centraal Station fell a German victim in her neighborhood.
After Klaver had removed a barricade , Isa Baschwitz could enter through the main entrance of the Station and could bring the message to the cease fire to Rutteman. From German side was still shooting, just like the top floor of the station, were they didn’t receive the order for cease fire. Overhoff and the Hauptmann from the Feldengendarmerie arrived at that moment with the motorcycle, still driven by guard De Jongh, at the Victoria Hotel. Nearby the hotel, guard De Jongh was hit by a bullet in his heart, dead. The Hauptmann gave the Waffen-SS the order to cease fire.
The uniform of Rutteman was still in the police post. He went with Isa Baschwitz on their way, but had to return at once because the Grune Polizei was still at the Centraal Station by the stairs. Isa Baschwitz fell into their hands and got searched, but at the same time started negotiations. She gave the message of cease fire to the present lieutenant. Isa Baschwitz had to report to his opponent, that they unarmed, hands up and without guidance had to come down. Rutteman told via her to the lieutenant, that he would not meet at the request, but he wanted to negotiate unarmed and on good terms with each other and invited him to come upstairs.
The lieutenant came at once. After a short negotiation they agreed that both parties would give the order to cease fire within 20 minutes after 04:50pm. The lieutenant threatened to attack the Centraal Station with
2 companies if there would be fired by them.
Immediately they send out aid-de-camp to the commanders of the sections.After some effort also section Lok was reached,the only one who had fired and had been out of reach. The group Schoen, who came back from the entrance of the IJ-side to the first platform, was bombard between 04:50-05:10pm. At 05:30pm the object-commander arrived, to whom Rutteman gave an oral report. The attitude- and fire discipline from the men of the Domestic Armed Forces had been excellent, while the majority of them didn’t serve in the army. The men of Van Galen Last were badly trained on the stengun and got under German fire instructions from their commander how to shoot with that unknown German rifle. The section commanders acted capable and controlled. Last but not least,courier Isa Baschwitz, resolute and brave, took care in spite of the great danger for the good end of the negotiations.
On German side they lost by doing of the Department Middle, one officer and nine non-commissioned officers and men. The department East should have shot seven Germans. Beside those 17 deceased, 40 Germans would have been wounded. Anyway was during the clash the train of the military force, who had been standing all day at platform 5,left.
To Willem Hendrik Zeeman was awarded posthumous by Queen Wilhelmina the Bronze Lion. By doing of Isa Baschwitz, Theo van Dijk and Hein Kop is on September 22 1984 memorial plate unveiled in the hall of the Central Station with the text “Here fell for our freedom on May 1 1945, Willem Hendrik Zeeman, 22 years old”. Above the text a flying dove of peace with palm branch and left a broken flower stem with a falling flower.
For guard Jan de Jongh was already place a plaquette on the front of the Victoria Hotel.
Source Veteranen Online Website.