Pays-Bas / Histoire

‘El Feri’ is free




Hoogeveen was liberated on 10 and 11 April 1945. The majority of the area was liberated by Belgian SAS troops, coming from Coevorden. The French SAS made an earlier attempt at the Spaarbank forest, but was driven out by the Germans. The Canadian Manitoba Dragoons were in charge of the centre of Hoogeveen. They were already active on the 10th and made the breakthrough on the 11th. That day, the Belgian SAS also followed.

The night of 10-11 April passed peacefully in Hoogeveen, even more peaceful than the night before. There was no Germans in sight, but no liberators either. Residents of Hoogeveen had been watching the retreat of German troops from around the station for days. Trains were departing late into the night. On the road, everything that could drive and move was used, alternating with the troops who left on foot. In Hoogeveen, the liberators were eagerly awaited on the morning of 11 April.

On Wednesday 11 April, another Canadian reconnaissance vehicle appeared near the destroyed bridge at the beginning of Zuiderweg. They were believed to be the forerunners of a main force. But Hoogeveen's liberators ended up not coming from the south, but from the north and the east. On the morning of 11 April, five armoured vehicles of the Manitoba Dragoons were waiting at the Toldijk for some time. As if hesitant to proceed, they stood before the level crossing at Pesserstraat. At around 09:30, they set in motion. The group rolled down Pesserstraat and drove to the intersection. The first armoured vehicle drove straight on, while the second stopped. "There they are!" people nearby shouted to each other. Flags were brought out to adorn the front of the houses.

Local boys asked if they could ride along. Before long, the armoured vehicle was full of children, small and large. The armoured vehicle had a transmitter on board. The children heard the message being broadcast: “Hello, hello, we are in ‘El Feri’. Civilians report the place is free”, and more of the same. 'El Feri', or something that resembled that for Dutch listeners, was
 the code name for Hoogeveen.

It was 09:40 when the victory march through Hoogeveen started, according to someone who looked at the clock in the armoured vehicle. Flags went out everywhere and young and old turned up wearing orange. The vehicles drove to Raadhuisplein and then on to Hoofdstraat, which is where the last one came to a stop.

The children had to be quiet when the Manitoba Dragoons had radio contact, otherwise the Canadians could not hear. The fact that they were Canadians was obvious to the children. As the radio message became intelligible, it appeared that the Canadians had been ordered to leave immediately for the north. That’s exactly what they did. The children were dropped off and the armoured vehicles disappeared to the north again through Pesserstraat.

The Internal Armed Forces (Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten - BS) in the Hoogeveen core continued the work of the Manitoba Dragoons. They were among the first to arrest the NSB mayor of Hoogeveen.