Holandia / Historia

A Hague evacuee's ‘Journey to Drenthe’ - Assen after the war - eyewitness report in two parts - part 2




“It was the end of January 1945. For quite some time, hunger had held the Holland provinces in the western part of the Netherlands in its grip. I was getting weaker, that was plain for everyone to see. The doctor told me: ‘Take a rest, go outside. Try to get to the North.’ On the doctor's advice, I was given two months sick leave by my employer, the Dutch Pensions Council. The North, how could we get there? The German authorities refused to give us a statement that would allow us to go by train. Food trucks would not take us either. After serious consideration and at the repeated urgent request of our son Loek, who was barely nine years old, we went on foot.” This is how Gerrit van Lochem's story begins about the journey he managed to make together with his wife and son to escape the Hunger Winter in the western part of the Netherlands. On 17 February 1945, at six o’ clock in the morning, they left their home in The Hague. By way of the provinces of Zuid-Holland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel, they ended up in Drenthe many days later, to find shelter there from the beginning of March until the end of the war with the family of farmer Jan Enting in Grolloo. The impressive account of the journey and the time in Grolloo can be read on the website of the Old Grol Foundation. This is the story of the period after the liberation of Grolloo on 12 April 1945.

Relaxation in Assen and return to The Hague

“We had a pretty quiet life in Assen and good social contacts. A cosy social evening for the employees of the Service even resulted in the idea to form a players’ group. We called a meeting, and a play was chosen that was bound to create a furore: "Nobility in Livery”. Is was a tremendous success. We played for and for the benefit of the Red Cross. 

The hall in Bellevue in Assen was completely sold out. A nice review appeared in the Asser Courant (see the images of cuttings below) and what I had predicted at the time, happened: We got requests to perform the play from everywhere: Borger, Beilen, Gieten. For the soldiers in Assen, Zuidlaren, etc. It was a nice time. We won't forget it very soon. 

Time at the Documentation Service flew. And in the summer, we packed our things to go back to The Hague. Looking for a house. On 27 August 1945, after an absence of more than six months, I arrived in The Hague. Earlier, my youngest sister had sent me sad messages about our furniture. Some of it had been stored, she had managed to save a lot, but a large part had also been found missing or destroyed.  

My wife and Loek stayed in Haarlem with Aunt Bets, who had taken them in until I had found a house. Only after a stay of more than six weeks in The Hague, I managed to obtain permanent housing. It was a nice house, more beautiful than the one we had. With the rest of our furniture we settled in as best as we could. 

Our lives are back to normal again. Loek is at school nearby. The Pensions Council, that took me back, is a five-minute walk away from our home. And every time the three of us are sitting at home in the evening, we often think back to the time we spent in Drenthe and the journey with its many worries, good times and bad times, but for us, one thing is certain: We have got to know and learned to appreciate the people of Drenthe as good people, surly at first, but utterly trustworthy.” 

From: Eyewitness report by Gerrit van Lochem, spring 1945 
Born 11-8-1900, died 18-7-1986 

Re-edited by son Loek van Lochem, December 1995.