Holandia / Historia

Hoogeveen's defence failed to arrive




Along Hoogeveen Canal, with bridges in only a few places on main roads: an ideal line of defence. This was exactly what the German occupiers thought too. This would allow them to hold up the Canadian advance for days. But it did not work out like that. The German defence force failed to arrive...

The defence of Hoogeveen was initially entrusted to a company, which nestled on various parts of the Hoogeveen and Extended Hoogeveen Canal. The Ten Arlo camp also had another role to play. It had been used as a 'Marder' radar station for several years, which made it part of the German air defence. There was also a Ten Arlo camp of the Netherlands Labour Service (Nederlandse Arbeidsdienst (NAD)) right next door.

All in all, it was quite a complex, where retreating German soldiers were received. The Allies estimated that as many as 1,000 men were lying there around the time of liberation. The Canadian main force, advancing across Zuidwolde, was also thought to be very large.

In setting up their defences, the Germans calculated that they would form an overwhelming force. But this not exactly how things worked out. That supremacy had to come partly from Georgians, who were fighting on the side of the Germans. In order to recover, that group was temporarily stationed on Texel. The intention was that they would be ferried to the Frisian coast to make fire contact with the Allies in an attempt to stop the advance in the eastern Netherlands.

They were supposed to have ended up at Hoogeveen, at the Hoogeveen Canal. Together with German soldiers from North Holland, they could form roughly 2,500-3,000 defence troops to supplement those that were already at Hoogeveen.

But the Georgians revolted, and the German troops in North Holland had to suppress this uprising using violence. As a result, the replenishment for Hoogeveen failed to materialise.

The troops at Ten Arlo camp set fire to the camp and moved north. Three civilians who were detained for espionage were killed in the fire. In the end, only the one company of Germans who had taken up the defence from the beginning remained.  Bridges were blown up, after which that one company also withdrew.

Hoogeveen was virtually wide open. Belgian troops, advancing from the east side, engaged in battle with a small unit of gathered soldiers. The Manitoba Dragoons fired on a few more on Schutstraat, but that was all. This unit encountered some serious fire contact on the north side of Hoogeveen when they met retreating Germans.  The real battle for Hoogeveen failed to materialise, which was just as well. Little remained of the buildings around Schutstraat.

The mass grave for the Georgians is now on Texel. Had the revolt not broken out there, they would probably have perished in Hoogeveen, because even with 2,500 to 3,000 men, they would not have been able to hold Hoogeveen.