Rika Overdijk – Rita

* Amsterdam 23 November 1932
† Amsterdam 7 May 1945 

rita-overdijkwwwRita Overdijk was only 12 years old when she was killed on the Dam by bullets on May 7 at 3 pm. She was the only child of an electrician named Dirk Overdijk (1902-1977) and his wife Rimkien Ossel (born 1901). The family lived at Barentszstraat 32 on the third floor. Rita was buried on May 14, 1945 at the cemetery Nieuwe Ooster.

Because her father Dirk was the youngest of six brothers born between 1887 and 1902, it proved very difficult to find any living relatives who knew anything about Rita’s death. We talked to her cousin Bauke Ossel – his father was Rita’s mother’s brother – and with Pauline Overdijk whose grandfather Jacob was one of Rita’s father’s brothers. They did not have any pictures or information.

After a message on our website and in the paper the Oud-Amsterdammer we were contacted by Catharina van Oostende, whose grandfather Klaas was another brother of Rita’s father’s. She said: “My mother often told me about her niece, but in these stories she was 4 or 5 years old. I remember seeing a picture of a very pretty little blond girl. The Overdijk family (my mother and her parents) were not very close, I think. Most of them lived in the neighborhood of the Barentszstraat. I don’t really understand why my mother always told me that a 4 or 5 year old girl was killed. I don’t have any further information because everybody on my side of the family has died.”

We received more information about Rita from three other witnesses:

Ms. Mathilda van Bentum-Hofker mentioned Rita in her witness report [link]. According to her, Rita had prominent, religious parents and she went to the Christian school “Het Smalle Pad” in the Planciusstraat. Rita had blond curly hair.

This matches the picture we received from Ms. Tiny Poggenklaas.

Tiny Poggenklaas was in Rita’s class at a later school: the Pestalozzischool for girls on the Nassaukade.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 21.41.35

This school was very ‘posh’ and the girls started learning French when they were very young.

Tiny was at the Dam as well when the shootings took place. She writes to us:

I was also 12 years old and present at the shootings. I fled to the Damrak. Some young men broke the windows of a bank and pulled us in. My friend [Rita] had gone with her parents and she was killed while she was in between the two of them.
Everybody in class received a picture of Rita as a keepsake, this had been arranged by the parents’ association. Her name is Rika Overdijk, but in school we called her Rita. She lived in the Barentszstraat near the Zuider playground.
I never really thought about the events anymore until the more recent incident at the Dam when the fences came down and the queen had to be escorted out. I never expected the emotions this evoked and now this, it’s all very emotional and I go through the whole thing once again.

achterkant van foto Rika Overdijk, ter beschikking gesteld door Tiny Poggenklaas

backside of picture of Rita, kindly made available by Tiny Poggenklaas

We received the following from Alida Groeneveld:

Rita has never left my memories and I especially think of her every May.
I was not present at the Dam because Rita had given me her ration card, she said she was going to the Dam to celebrate the liberation and asked if I wanted her card.
 At the end of the school year the whole class took part in a theater play for our parents and the Overdijk family was present as well. They were very nice people and they thanked everybody for their kind interest and care.
I remember it was a nice but also a sad evening.
Rita was a sweet and calm classmate, she got along with everybody and was very smart. She’s on my cabinet at this moment because in the month of May I always want her to be part of my life.

Tom Giebing, grandson of Gerardus Overdijk, brother of Rita’s father Dirk:
My grandfather Gerardus Overdijk, was after the dead of his first wife, married with my grandmother Julia Hedwig Kmenta, she already had two children of whom my mother Mina, named Mini, was in the same class as Rita Overdijk at the school’Het Smalle Pad’ and I was surprised to hear that the school had given a picture to the children.
I don’t know anything about this picture. They always played together. Rita’s parents, uncle Dirk and aunt Riek, lived across us in the Barentszstraat; they were regular visitors on Sunday. The parents of Rita always came on my birthday and sometimes they talked about it. My mother always talked about it on the Day of Commemoration of the Dead, about what has happened with Rita and the grieve that Dirk and Riek had.

About a possibility of confusion of a little child of 4 or 5 years old Tom let us know:
From the first marriage of my grandfather Gerard and his wife, there was a son who was run over during playing, he was 4 years old when he died in May 1922.
It’s not clear whether this child is part of the confusion.


  1. David

    I randomly stumbled upon this page yesterday. I was struck by young Rika’s resemblence to an old aquaintance. I immediately started reading about the Dam Square shooting, and about Rika. That such a tragic event could take place even after Germany had capitulated saddened me greatly, and felt a bit ashamed that I hadn’t felt similarly before.

    What surprised me the most was when I saw that today would have been her birthday. I thought about how if she would have lived she might have had grandchildren around my age. I feel an obligation to honor her on this day, despite never knowing her. I intend no disrespect to family or her friends, and I will offer my sincerest apologies if this causes offense.

    Happy Birthday, Rita.

    1. Iris Overdijk

      I’ve only just stumbled upon this page too a few weeks ago.

      I do not know if we are related somehow but either way I’m so sad I’ve not heard of her and her story before.

      I’d like to wish Rita a Happy Birthday too, ik zal je ook niet vergeten <3


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