Paesi Bassi / Monumento

Executed for a handful of nails



Indicazioni stradali

On 19 November 1944, members of the 'Sipo und SD' shot three men in cold blood on the Rijksstraatweg, near the exit to Menaldum. It was a reprisal for an act of sabotage committed by the resistance two days earlier: the scattering of nails on the road. The intention was to hinder German bicycle patrols hunting for people in hiding. Germany's security service, the infamous Sicherheitsdienst (SD), cracked down on such resistance. Indiscriminately, people were taken out of prison and put before the firing squad.

In autumn 1944, the Allies made good progress. Belgium was liberated, and the Netherlands came into the picture of the army command. To support the advance, an order was given for the formation of an underground army, the Dutch Domestic Armed Forces (NBS), composed of the already existing loose resistance groups. Until then, they had operated mostly independently but now, they had to conform to a military command structure, with Prince Bernhard as commander-in-chief. 

Thus, the NBS section in Menaldumadeel received the order, transmitted by courier, from the regional leadership to scatter nails on the Rijksstraatweg between Dronrijp and Marssum. The men actually did not like the idea at all, but after much discussion decided to carry out the plan anyway. Maybe the leadership of the new NBS organisation wanted to test the chain of command. They bought a kilo of nails in Leeuwarden and scattered them at night, intending to sweep them up again the next morning. Indeed, that night, a bicycle patrol rode through the nail-strewn streets. 

Just before that, in October, the Leeuwarden SD had been reinforced by the 'Commando Albrecht,' around twenty fanatical and ruthless SS men who had previously exercised a veritable reign of terror in Ghent in Belgium, but had to leave the field to the advancing Allies. The SD was the organisation specifically tasked with fighting sabotage. Albrecht and his men want to show off their calling card immediately in Friesland as well.  

Three men from the Leeuwarden Detention Centre, who had absolutely nothing to do with the act, became the random victims. They were Dirk de Vries and Jan Zorn, who were arrested for taking part in the railway strike, and Hans Goudsmit, a rounded-up Jewish man in hiding. 26-year-old SS-Untersturmführer Theodor Vogt, right-hand man and executioner to Commander Albrecht, was in charge of the execution. On his orders, the corpses had to lie untouched for 24 hours. To serve as a deterrent.  

Whereas Albrecht was sentenced to death after the war, Vogt, who was also responsible for other executions, including the one at the Dronrijp bridge on 11 April 1945, got off with a prison sentence of only ten years.