The week before the liberation it was suddenly very quiet in our town Laren-Blaricum. The days before we heard constant gunshots, but it suddenly stopped from one day to the next. We understood that
something was going on but what could it be? At the end of April a division of the SS arrived in our villages and the soldiers were busy with buiding reinforcements to stop an attack of Baarn.
We were allowed to go out of our house for just one hour a day.
May 4 08:15pm. Through the pine forest behind our house, we went as usual, to the house of a friend who had a radio with battery, to listen with people who were in hiding to Radio Orange. Nothing about our country!
We decided to wait until 09:00pm for the news of BBC. There it was:capitulation of the German troops on May 5, also in Holland. We ran out of the house to tell the news. That stopped when furious SS’ers
came on the street and started to shoot.
May 5 “Liberation day” 06:00am. A courier arrives with the announcement that the SS-commander of Laren-Blaricum refuses to surrender, he wants to fight until death follows and everybody had to stay indoors.
This day was for us like previous days, but now we know that the war was over. That the radio announced every hour”we are free,we are free” wasn’t easy for us that day, with our evacuees from Arnhem.
The ones who lived on the side of Eemnes or Hilversum could hear the church bells and the music, but in our village there is still no liberation. Just Sunday the SS surrenders and we could celebrate liberation.
This happens on a field by the house of the local NSF delegation, also a Domestic Armed Force, were in the presence of the mayor(during the war out of office)of Blaricum, the underground and with people who were in hiding, among them English and American airmen, the flag was put out and the National Anthem was sung. A few girls wore orange dresses, made from cloth of a parachute. The last remains of saved food and liquor appears:a day full of festivities !
Monday May 7. I decided to go to Amsterdam to see how the atmosphere is. I’m going to an employee of the NSF who has his office on the top floor of the Industrieele Club on the Dam.
Gradually more friends enter. The Dam is standing full with a cheering crowd. Suddenly a few small Canadian armoured cars covered with flowers and girls,under deafening cheering,makes a roun
on the Dam and disappear. Shortly after this I hear shooting. I was standing by the window and the tiles from the roof of the Nieuwe Kerk fell down. At once a division German marine soldiers, who were located in
the Grote Club, it seems that they were under the influence of drink, started to shoot on the crowd.
Panic broke out: people try’d to find a place to hide on the Nieuwendijk, Damrak and Rokin, some hide behind a kiosk and a lamp post, only wounded and dead people stayed behind. Nobody knows what to do except a scout with a carrier tricycle with a withe flag on a stick goes to the Dam to get the wounded people. At the Industrieele Club goes the rumor that a Canadian officer has been seen.
Everybody starts to search for him, finally they find him in a closet were he hide himself but it appears to be a Dutch journalist.
In front of the Palace is a group of Domestic Armed Forces carrying guns.
Their commander was dr. H.A.L.Trampusch, now lector in embryology in Amsterdam, an Austrian who flee to Holland after the invasion of Hitler in Austria, he had been committed to the University of Amsterdam and went into hiding when he would be summoned for the army (Germany).
He rans to the telephone office at the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, calls the Grote Club and threatens the Germans there (poses to be the local commander) with immediate execution if the shooting doesn’t stop at once.
That happens at once: a little later Overhoff arrives,the commander of the Domestic Armed Force of Amsterdam, with the real commander. From the corner of the Damrak they walk in deathly silence to the Grote Club.
They discover in the great hall, on the corner of the Kalverstraat and Dam, against the walls hundreds of piled up landmines.
My mood was below zero. If this is liberation! I decided to go home. On the road nearby Muiden they warned me that the Germans, near the Vecht, stopped all the cyclists and took away their bikes so that the Germans didn’t have to walk to prison! I was still furious about the shooting on the Dam, I drove on, they let me stop, I had to show my papers (made by the PBC). In my paper, foreseen of false stamps and signatures, was declared
that I performed important work for the Wehrmacht. I’ve never used it so I wanted to see the effect was.
I saluted and drove on,some Dutchmen were suspicious. It was a weird end of three emotional days.
Source: Nieuw Israelisch Weekblad, May 1 1970
Gijsbert van Hall (April 21 1904 – May 22 1977) was a politician of the PVDA and mayor of Amsterdam between 1957-1967. He was married with the daughter of a publisher from Amsterdam, Emma Nijhoff.
His brother Walraven van Hall was a banker and one of the leaders/financiers of the resistance during World War II.