Pays-Bas / Histoire

Execution just before liberation




On 6 April 1945, the first Canadian scouts had been spotted in the northern part of the Netherlands. The population was full of joy and became increasingly imprudent. Very soon it became clear that there were still plenty of enemies in the border region of Overijssel and Drenthe and that they were not prepared to surrender without a fight.

In Dedemsvaart and Balkbrug, the first Canadian troops had made prisoners of war on 6 April 1945 and locked them in a school with two resistance fighters as guards. That same night, German soldiers came from Ommen to free their comrades. Fifty civilians were taken prisoner, fifteen of whom were taken to café Leunge in Balkbrug for execution. Some of them managed to escape, others were shot dead.  

The enemy was still very present. This was also the case in nearby Zuidwolde, where scouts of the Manitoba Dragoons met with fierce resistance on 7 April.  

In the end, it took almost a week before liberation could actually be celebrated. On 12 April, an intelligence report showed that there was still German activity east of Ommen. After a swift action around three o’clock in the afternoon, these enemies were eliminated. At eight ‘o clock that night, an instruction from the brigade ordered the Black Watch battalion to advance on Hoogeveen via Zuidwolde immediately. The Black Watch had to prepare and perform a counter-attack to eliminate the threat to Hoogeveen from the west.  

Earlier, a resistance fighter from Zwolle had reported to the battalion with a very important message. Information that presumably had to do with a possible attack from Meppel on the open flanks of the northbound Canadian 2nd Division. At that time, Meppel was still in the hands of the German occupiers. Another version of the story is about Ten Arlo camp, on the border of Zuidwolde and Hoogeveen, where the fanatical SS members stationed there would probably be prepared to fight to the bitter end. In hindsight, it turned out that they no longer posed a threat.  

During the morning of 13 April, the successors of the Black Watch were able to enter Zuidwolde and Hoogeveen from the south. They could be recognised by the emblem on the soldiers’ sleeves, with a Maple Leaf above it.