Pays-Bas / Histoire

Everyone was silent




Hennie Oosterhuis is twelve during the liberation. She cycled behind her friends to the entrance of Uithuizermeeden. The shelling was finally over. Hennie, her niece Immy Oosterhuis (12), Adriana Kooij (11), Sientje Wierenga, Niekie Elema (14) and the sisters Betje (10) and Jakobje Smid (13) wanted to be the first to see the Tommies coming.

All day long they heard the shells flying over the meadows and fields. The population was preparing for a liberation party. Sikke, the father of Immy Oosterhuis, no longer had a Dutch flag. He and his daughter Annie were busy dyeing a piece of cloth. He was left alone to raise his four children, as his wife passed away eight months ago. Suddenly a shell fell in the middle of the village. The girls ran to the nearest hiding place: the basement of the Buikema butcher's shop. “We ran to the side door,” says Hennie Oosterhuis. “A girl was already in the basement, but not everyone was in yet. I was the last.” A grenade fell near the butcher shop. The air pressure threw Hennie against the wall. She stood up and felt a stabbing pain in her right side. "It was a lot of pressure and screaming. I didn't understand exactly what was happening.”

She cycles home, while the screams continued behind her. Her niece Immy and Adriana, Niekie and Betje and Jakob lay motionless in the slaughterhouse, hit by shrapnel. Berend Werkman in hiding also lay dead in the slaughterhouse. For years he hid from the Germans in the butcher's shop. He was just getting out his hidden bicycle. Oosterhuis: 'I had no idea what had happened. My parents must have looked at me in amazement, because I was covered in paint powder. That shell had also hit a hut at the butcher's shop where they kept paint powder. My mother washed me from head to toe and when I was getting dressed, a shard suddenly fell on the floor.” The village mourns, but it is hardly ever talked about in the years that follow.“Everyone just kept silent.”

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