Mrs. Hemelrijk

We were 17 years old, my twin sister and I. In the evening of May 4 1945 we sat with our family in the house after ‘sperrzeit’, in the Witte de Withstraat in Amsterdam-West, when suddenly it became noisy.
It was a beautiful day and the window stood open. A man walked along with his bike on is hand. He shouted:

“The Germans have surrenderd, we are free.”

We were beside ourselves of joy. The flags were put out (unfortunately we had no flag) and the people came out of their houses. But suddenly somebody called: Beware, the Grune Polizei is coming. In a split second the streets were empty and the flags inside. We didn’t see the Grune Polizei.

The next day it seems to be  true. My mother painted on the stove in the kitchen a piece of a sheet red and blue and sewed a white piece in the middle: a flag. Now a flag was hanging out of our window. In the street was a sea of flags. I have never seen so many flags in Amsterdam as in liberation time.

On May 7 my sister and I walked to the Dam(there was no tram). There was a great party going on. By the Palace stood a music tent and the crowd sang patriot songs and danced around. We were waiting for the Canadians who should come to the Dam with their military trucks. At that moment there had been no foreign troops in Amsterdam. Finally in the afternoon an armoured-plated car came riding on the Dam.(there are pictures of it).
The car drove along me and stopped. On the roof of the car sat people in uniform. The public also climbed on the car. Suddenly one of the men in uniform said “Let’s go back“. It was a Dutchmen. Apparently they didn’t trust it. They drove away from the Dam to the Rokin.

Suddenly we heard shooting and there was panic. We fled to all directions and we fell on the ground. My twin sister and I lay behind a traffic island on the corner of the Dam and the Rokin, together with a Domestic Armed Force in a blue overall with a rifle. I didn’t know about the existence of this organization. Immediately after the liberation those people, by lack of uniforms, walked around in blue overalls. For me they were members of the resistance.
The Domestic Armed Force next to us shouted: “Go away, I’m going to shoot“. And we fled again, but now each of us in a different direction. I ended up in the basement of Hotel Polen (later on it burnt down) and my sister upstairs in the Industrial Club on the Dam. She could overlook the Dam and I was in the basement. A man was creating panic, he said: “We will be bombed“. The Groote Club (from were the shooting started) lies next to us, so we will be hit. I walked immediately outside. The shooting was over. The dead and wounded were brought on wooden cars to the Binnengasthuis. I walked with them. By the entrance of the Binnengasthuis stood a crowd. Everybody was looking if they knew the dead or wounded people. Suddenly they call that they needed blood donors. Then I went home because I’m not such a hero.
In our street I met my sister. We looked dirty and black but we were unharmed. My sister had seen from the Groote Club how a German was shot. There is a photo of his corpse on the pavement of the Rokin.

Despite this adventure we went the next day to the Dam. The Germans were unarmed and the party is in a full swing. Finally the Canadians arrived in the city. They drove with big trucks on the Dam.
We climbed, just like many others, on the truck and we sat on top of the cabin. In triumph they drove through the city among the cheering crowd. Through the Leidsestraat to the Vondelpark, entrance Emmastraat.
There stood a German soldier on guard, he had to open the gate. They drove inside the Vondelpark under cheering of the crowd. There was a Canadian camp and we got biscuits out of large biscuit tin. We didn’t have them for years. This was finally liberation.

Every day we went to the Canadians in the Vondelpark. My sister and I got acquaintances to a farmers boy from Canada. Mine called Bob Dixon. He came from Kinistino, Saskatchewan.
We took them to our home in the Witte de Witstraat. Those boys had fought for years. They belonged to the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada. As frontline soldiers they came from Italy to Amsterdam. So they were happy that they could sit in an armchair by my mother with a cup of surrogate tea, just looking out of the window.

After 14 days they were demobilized and returned to Canada. I correspond a while with the sister of Bob.

Story of Mrs.Hemelrijk