Paesi Bassi / Monumento

Perilous discharge from Havelte Jewish labour camp



Indicazioni stradali

Dolle Dinsdag Dolle Dinsdag (Mad Tuesday) fell on 5 September 1944. At the German airfield Havelte, Jewish workers were dismissed. Among them was Hans Freudenthal, a mathematics teacher. He took the train back home to Amsterdam. It turned out to be a challenging trip.

The Germans started building a large airfield in Havelte in November 1943: Fliegerhorst Havelte. It was supposed to occupy about six hundred hectares. The intention was to relieve the airport in Leeuwarden. 

Labour camps were established, including a labour camp for five hundred Jews on the north side of Havelterberg. It was populated with Jews in mixed marriages, i.e. married to a non-Jewish woman.

They started working there from March 1944. One of them was mathematics teacher Hans Freudenthal. He wrote to his family in Amsterdam almost every day, and he meticulously kept a diary.

When it was Dolle Dinsdag (Mad Tuesday), the men were dismissed and mostly went home by walking, cycling or by train, hiding the Star of David under their coats. Most men -also under pressure from their families- decided to go into hiding until liberation. This included Hans Freudenthal. That was not an easy trip, and this is how he described it:

“5 September. Picked up by a car on the way, which already had three people fleeing in it, and one more joined. I was told along the way that no trains were travelling. That turned out not to be true at the [Meppel] station. Sat on toilet until departure. 915

Departed with a Friesian train. Departed from Zwolle at 1235. There, train with German civilians and soldiers also left for the North with many FlAKs [Flug Abwehr Kanonen - Air defence cannons]. This train later caught fire near Dedemsvaart.

Our train stopped past Wezep at 1300. Got out. Into the forest. A bunch of flying machines passed overhead. Got a fairly long chance to run away. Dreadful shooting. Fired at about 25 times, during one major session. 2 killed, 1 seriously injured, 3 lightly injured. Dreadful to behold. Doctor van Oldebroek came. The dead and injured had been too close to the locomotive. On the train was a children's holiday group with 50 children. A woman on a support.

Would there be another locomotive? (it was hit 4 - 6 times). Little hope. Walk back home from there? Days. Not enough to eat. Prisoners with four marechaussees were on the train - absconders. Everyone escaping. One had already jumped off the train in Beilen and escaped, as a marechaussee shot at his colleague.

1710 locomotive came for the old train, new train departing. Arrived at 1912 and departed at 1926 from Amersfoort.   2100 Muiderpoort. Very crowded. This unexpected train resulted in many more people getting away. E.g. people who had wanted to go from Amersfoort to Amsterdam across Utrecht and had to return at Maarsen - line broken through bombardment. Also Utrecht - Leiden and Utrecht - The Hague, broken. People had walked from our train to Oldebroek and even to Nunspeet. Some did not make it to the train.

The mood in Amsterdam was as if the Germans were already gone. They were apparently fighting in Rotterdam. Landwacht (national guard) shot at the public who are on the streets after 20:00."

Author: Wim van der Wijk