Paesi Bassi / Storia

Liberation with a twist and a sad aftermath



Indicazioni stradali

After the German resistance was forcibly crushed in Hooghalen, the Canadian troops moved into Assen. In the preceding days, 702 paratroopers had landed, which led the Germans to believe that they could face resistance anywhere. The intention was to demoralise the Germans and minimise the urge to fight.

By 18:00 on 12 April, a Canadian unit reached the southern edge of Assen just after darkness had fallen. The leading ranks were stopped there by the defenders of a bridge that had been blown up only shortly before. The platoon commander and some reconnaissance troops were injured in the process. Corporal Leo Arhan Nahmabin dragged the wounded from the shower of bullets to find cover.  

Since the opponent's position was not entirely clear, the corporal stood up and started shouting fiercely as he emptied his weapon in the direction of the enemy.When the enemy started firing back, he could identify the position of the defenders and mounted a counterattack with the rest of the platoon.It turned out to be a machine-gun post with five men.Its elimination paved the way for the further liberation of Assen.  

That very afternoon, the commander of the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade, Brigadier General Fred Cabeldu, decided that Assen should not only be taken head-on, but work should also be done during the night to prevent the German withdrawal to Groningen by cutting them off.This is because the brigadier general suspected that a large concentration of German troops would leave for Groningen.  

The Royal Regiment of Canada would come out to Peelo through Rolde and Loon to prevent the German defenders of Assen from retreating.This allowed the advance to Groningen to continue at full strength.That plan succeeded, which allowed the Canadians to enter Assen from the south across Beilerstraat and liberate the city.  

Too late 

Liberation came just too late for seven captured resistance fighters and three French servicemen, who were imprisoned in the Huis van Bewaring (House of Detention). Hendrik de Ruiter and his sons Jacob and Hendrik Jan, among others, had been imprisoned there since 21 March 1945. They had sheltered secret agent Cor van Bemmel in their house on Parallelweg in Assen, who used a transmitter to send important information to London.  

During the war, the father Hendrik was with the national organisation that helped people in hiding, his son Jacob, with a gun in his pocket, brought around supplies and information, and his son Hendrik Jan did the courier work. Anne Marten Smallenbroek was also imprisoned. During a meeting of the illegal publication Trouw in Smallenbroek's house on 9 January 1945, the Germans raided the house and he and seven others were arrested and imprisoned. The prisoners also included five French paratroopers.  

Two groups of seven prisoners each were taken from the Huis van Bewaring in Assen to a site near the Stadsbroek sports park in Assen on 10 April 1945, led by SD officer Willy Weber. Three French paratroopers, seven resistance fighters and four black market traders were executed there. Among them were Hendrik de Ruiter and his sons Jacob and Hendrik Jan, as well as Anne Marten Smallenbroek.