Pays-Bas / Audiospot

The surrender of the German commander Miczek




The German garrison commander Gottfried Engelbrecht Miczek withdrew with his staff to the second floor of the State Archives in the Sint Jansstraat on Monday morning, April 16, 1945 at 09:00. About twenty German soldiers who are in the basement of the building have piled up their rifles. It doesn't take long before the garrison commander makes a final decision that they should stop fighting.

Miczek's adjutant contacts the Canadians and is introduced to 25-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Jacques Alfred ("Jimmy") Dextraze, commander of the Fusiliers Mont-Royal. He came with the announcement that the German garrison commander wanted to negotiate. The German officer, Dextraze and the sergeant interpreter W. Th. van Workum then got into an armored vehicle and drove to the State Archives.

"I'm not ashamed to say I was afraid," said "Mad Jimmy," as the French-speaking commander was called by his officers and men. “I went up the stairs and my legs were shaking. The German, a colonel, was standing there. I greeted him properly and he saluted back. I lit a cigarette, but didn't offer him one.”

He is stunned to learn that the commander had no intention of surrendering after all and that he only wants to negotiate. "I was really worried now, and I told the German colonel that he can better surrender to us, because he was surrounded. I informed him that I had ordered my battalion to storm the "monastery" (State Archives) if I did not return within fifteen minutes. I might be killed in doing so, but so would he. I told him we had captured four lieutenant colonels early in the morning.”

The German commander does not believe him. “So I offered to drive him to Canadian headquarters so he could convince himself. He agreed and after a short conversation with the captured German lieutenant colonels he announced that he wanted to capitulate. We drove back to the German headquarters and the Germans in the "cloister" piled up their weapons and then lined up in rows of three. As they were about to march off, I (Jimmy Dextraze) asked for his gun. His face turned pale when he gave it to me.”

The commander wants to shake his hand. "I told him I'd only done, which was decent, but to remember that he was German and I was Canadian and I couldn't shake his hand."