* Leeuwarden, December 15 1912
† Amsterdam, May 7 1945
Popke came from a large family, who grow up in Leeuwarden.
His grandfather Popke Sjoerd Bakker, 1853-1918 and Dieuwke Durks Althuisius, 1855-1935 had 17 children *1).
Child number 10 was Miente Bakker, 1888-1975, Popke’s father.
Miente got 9 children from his marriage with Trijntje van der Schaaf, 1888-1925, Popke was the eldest, and 4 children from his second marriage with Jeannette Steen, 1898-1978. In total 13 children. Sister Dieuwke died in 1942 and sister Maaike in 1945.
His brothers Sjoerd and Paul were killed in World War II as resistance fighters.*2)
The end of April 1942 his youngest brother Bram was born in Leeuwarden; Popke married two weeks earlier in Amsterdam on April 9 1942 with Ida Johanna Wiedenhoff; they got a son and a daughter.
Popke was a merchant: he was very active in the resistance together with his brothers. Before the war he helped Jewish families in Germany. During the War he did a lot of underground work and also worked by the Vrij Nederland, an illegal magazine.
“My elder brother, Sjoerd, fashion designer, was in the resistance during the War. Together with others, he blew up the Register of births, deaths and marriages in Amsterdam, on March 27 1943”
“My father had 13 children, 5 in heaven, 8 on earth. He lived with all, if they were close by.I t’s awful to loose 5 adults, your wife and also a grandchild. My father never asked “Why?”, he asked “What for?”. He had a great faith in God. He thought:” God does it out of love”. “He is loving,He brings us somewhere”.*3)
It’s a pity that my father, Popke Bakker, didn’t succeed, in his agony, to get a close relation, in the public area, with a daily object, on May 7 1945. A barrel organ or a lamp post, for example.
He was murdered at the Dam with one shot through his head and one through his lung.
He was alive when he was transported on a handcart to the hospital.He died in the hospital.
I am Van Tienhoven dearly greatful for the space he offered me to talk about the disaster.
That my uncle, on May 7 at the Dam, belonged to one of the victims, was commonly known.
Less well known is, that he was working at the Dam for Vrij Nederland.
Henk van Randwijk (chairman of the Amsterdam Underground, joint founder of Vrij Nederland)was, what one would call these days a control freak. Every detail had to be in order. He had the opinion that ,if he, as the man in the street would adress to the Amsterdammers on May 9 “Amsterdammers, we are free”, the baldchin,like that on a pulpit was,must be removed, that’s why he asked Popke to take it away. Popke, who lived nearby the Singel, was according to his colleague Fedde Schurer, in his memoirs,early at the Dam were they had sung the National Anthem:
“Popke Bakker stood next to us, one of the family of whom the Sicherheits Dienst said, that they led a Privatkrieg against Germany.*4)
Fedde draws into Amsterdam, but Popke is still working at the Dam when the shooting starts. If Henk van Randwijk hears that his friend Popke belongs to one the victims, at once he is looking for him.
“Also somebody of our organzation belongs to the victims, A bullet through his head. He dies in the Binnen Gasthuis and we all stand by his deathbed…..
Fortunately we know the surgery ,and he gave us permission to take away the corpse, if we take care for the transport. We organized a carrier cycle, we wrapped him up in cloths, when we ride through the narrow streets, the cloth with the corps, rolls from side to side…That’s also the liberation.*5)Popke was buried at the cemetary Zorgvlied, in the meantime reburied at field of honour at Loenen. The statue, which original stood on his grave, stays at Zorgvlied. This statue is made by sculptor Nel Klaassen 1906-1989*6) on the pedestal is chiseled the last line of the poem form > Marsman.
Vlam in mij, laai weer op,
hart in mij, heb geduld,
verdubbel het vertrouwen,
vogel in mij laat zich opnieuw ontvouwen,
de vleugelen, de nu nog moede en grauwe,
o, wiek nu op uit de verbrandde takken
en laat den moed en uwe vaart niet zakken
het nest is goed, maar het heelal is ruimer.
The last line was quoted by Popke’s brother Sjoerd, when he heard two years before, that he was condemned to death,for taking part of a raid on the register of birth,deaths and marriages.
Because Sjoerd is buried in a pit in the Kennemerduinen, they are now on the grave of his brother. The beautiful statue is made from sandstone, from Vaurois, by one of our
great sculptors , the assignment was given by Albert, who became vice-president by Vrij Nederland, to commemorate his two brothers.
The money was raised by a large group of his friends, among them a lot of artists. Popke was like a patron for Bertus Aafjes, Eddy Hoonik, Gerrit de Brabander, A.Marja en Jacques van Hattum,
but he already had at the age of 34 years old, a collection of paintings, a Mondriaan, a Chabot, two works of Wiegers and Germ de Jong and a Else Berg and a lot of work
from Cees Bantzinger