“War widow” has been fighting for compensation for 37 years
This afternoon at around 3 pm it has been 37 years since Herman Budde was killed by a German bullet at Dam Square. His widow Klazien is now 66 years old and lives in Lelystad. She said: “For years now I have been trying to get compensation but the answer is always that the war ended on May 5, 1945.
During those years I raised 9 children and constantly had to pinch my pennies. Now that I am retired I receive money from the government and my fight is no longer about the money but about the recognition. Recognition could cure me from my syndrome because what happened on May 7, 1945 is still churning around in my head.
We had two children, a boy and a girl. Herman went into hiding shortly before our third child was born on November 4, 1943. The resistance advised me to move away from Zaandam and that is how we ended up on the Zieseniskade in Amsterdam. On the evening of May 4, 1945 Herman came home.
We were so happy. Liberation was around the corner and Herman said to me: Klazien, we are going to start a whole new life!”
To the Dam
“On Monday May 7th we went into town to watch all the happy people and to welcome the Canadians everybody was waiting for. Herman really wanted to go the Dam because there he was going to find out if there was a job for him with a newspaper. But it was so crowded and I was so weak from only eating sugar beets during the famine that winter that Herman said to me: “Why don’t take the two little ones to grandfather, I’ll be there shortly”. Frits, our eldest, stayed with him.
But Herman never showed up at grandfather’s and I got scared and went home. Fritsje was waiting at the door, covered in blood. He said: “Daddy was hit on the Dam when the Germans started shooting. He fell right on top of me. I lost a shoe.” A girl had brought him home. She said to me: “Somebody will come to tell you exactly what happened to your husband”.”
(Around 3 pm some heavily armed Germans started shooting at the partying people. According to the newspaper Volkskrant of May 8, 1945, 19 people were killed and 117 were wounded.)
Klazien remarried two years later to a widower with four children. They had another two children together and she had to take care of 9 children. The marriage was not a good one. They got divorced in 1968.
She says: “It has always saddened me that I never qualified for any kind of benefits. My second husband’s sister lost her husband on May 10, 1945. A drunken Canadian soldier thought he was a German and shot him. A year later she received compensation from the Canadian government. But all I was ever told was that no benefits applied to my situation: Herman had been killed two days too late.
And all that time I had to survive with my nine children on a minimum income. My second husband made next to nothing and all these refusals and hearing that no benefits applied to my situation made it more and more difficult to cope with the loss of Herman. It became a syndrome that I still fight every day.”
The Foundation Information Center for War Victims and the Foundation of Civilian War Victims (P.O. Box 2107, 1180 EC Amstelveen) confirm that most people who have not (yet) qualified for benefits, are not so interested in receiving money anymore, but want to the recognition of being war victims. “Recognition by way of compensation helps keeping the syndrome under control.”
Hopefully the law “Benefits for Civilian War Victims” that has recently been presented to Parliament will be accepted. In general this law wants to provide for civilians who became a victim either during or after the war for instance due to bombardments, shootings, or land mines.
Klazien’s reaction: “All these laws take so much time to go into effect that the problem has usually solved itself: none of the people who would benefit would still be alive.”