Paesi Bassi / Museo
The Drenthe village of Nieuwlande, only 30 kilometres as the crow flies from the former Westerbork camp, has a rich wartime history.
The resistance fighter Johannes Post, renowned in the Netherlands, brought Jewish persecuted people from Amsterdam to Nieuwlande in 1942 and sheltered them with family, friends and acquaintances. The 'one-man business' soon expanded across Nieuwlande and the surrounding area. The number of people in hiding was so large that Nieuwlande became known as the 'Drenthe Jerusalem'. The many waterways, forests, wasteland and scattered houses in the fencolonial area provided an ideal environment for people in hiding.
The people of Nieuwlande and its surroundings were presented with the Yad Vashem award for their collective help. Only one place in the world received the same honour. The Yad Vashem monument is on display in the centre of Nieuwlande.
De Duikelaar People in Hiding Museum tells the unique story of hiding and resistance in Nieuwlande in four exhibitions.
Nieuwlande, during and shortly after the liberation, an impression
Letter submitted in the Emmer Courant (newspaper) of 9 May 1945 by W. de Vries from Nieuwlande:
"That which gave essence and substance to the liberation celebration evening is that our Juliana music band made a separate walk to the farm of the late Johannes Post, leader of the resistance movement, and in his memory played two stanzas of the Wilhelmus, where after the division of the Internal Armed Forces (BS) discharged a salvo of honour. Similarly, another verse of the national anthem was played at the farm of Jan Post, Johannes's brother, where the son and hider were viciously slaughtered last year."
Interviews with eyewitnesses paint a similar picture each time: people in Nieuwlande heard that the Canadians were nearby, but they did not see them. No tanks passed through the village as the area was difficult to access for motorised traffic. A few reported a trip to Hoogeveen, where they were handed chocolates by the liberators.
People were mostly happy that the German occupier was defeated and normal life could resume again.
It was common knowledge that there were many people in hiding in Nieuwlande. The men who were in hiding for the Arbeitseinsatz were glad the misery was finally behind them. Certainly the young men will have celebrated and left for home as soon as possible.
Things were very different for the Jewish people in hiding, however. They were happy that the Holocaust was over, that they had survived the war, but simultaneously they were faced with the pressing question "How is my family?". How many are still alive?". Several Jewish people in hiding did not immediately have a way back home.
The joy was accompanied with grief. Some remained for months, sometimes as long as six months, before finding their own destination. Jewish children who had gone into hiding also faced an uncertain future. Often the host families wanted to take the child into their family, but various authorities had differing opinions. Joy and sorrow both had their impact, including on the host families.
It is also interesting to note that many people from Nieuwlande and the surrounding area emigrated to Canada after the war, especially those who were active in the resistance, or who had had Jewish people in hiding in their homes. This included a house painter, who had sheltered Jewish people and emigrated to Canada with his family. After quite a few years, the couple decided to fly to the Netherlands to visit family. Upon departure, he had to show his passport. The man behind the counter looked at him and then the passport, looked again, then stood up and gave the man a hug. "Simon, is that you? You saved my life!". The man behind the counter turned out to be a former person in hiding. After many years, they met again in Canada.