Holandia / Historia

Execution of citizens of Arnhem




On Tuesday morning 19 September, five Dutch civilians are led into the depot of Van Gend en Loos at Bakkerstraat 63-64 by German soldiers. Shortly thereafter, shots are heard, and these five people are found to have been summarily executed.

On this spot, a tragedy takes place on Tuesday 19 September 1944. There used to be an office and a depot of Van Gend en Loos here, and in the depot, five citizens of Arnhem are summarily executed by German soldiers on that day. A plaque on the outside wall of the (new) building commemorates this event.

What exactly caused it, is still not fully known. One of the victims, GP Jan Zwolle, had received a call to attend to wounded people in the Nijverheidsschool, a domestic science school for girls, at Rijnkade 36. The four others were also there, and they helped care for some wounded British soldiers who had been accommodated in the building. One of these soldiers, corporal Arthur Maybury, was unfortunately beyond help and died of his injuries.

When the Germans took the building the following morning, the five were ordered to take a wounded British soldier on a stretcher towards the Bakkerstraat. There, the five Dutchmen were subsequently executed in the depot of Van Gend en Loos. The name and fate of the British soldier is unknown.

A little further down the street, at Bakkerstraat 60, an entirely different story unfolded. After spending the night of 17-18 September near the old port, a group of British paratroopers under command of lieutenant Levien tried to reach the road bridge in the morning of the 18th. Because of heavy artillery fire from the Germans along the Rijnkade, the group decided to opt for another route. For reasons that have never become clear, they walked far to the north into the Bakkerstraat and ended up in Engelsman's furniture shop at number 60. They had to take cover there, while German soldiers took up positions nearby and searched several houses. Finally, Levien's group was found out in the early morning of the 19th, and an exchange of fire followed. The situation became hopeless for Levien's group, and withdrawing was impossible. There was no option left but to surrender. According to Mr Dijkland, director of Van Gend en Loos, the British were taken away around a quarter to nine, and shortly thereafter, he saw that several civilians were searched in front of his building and that five of them were taken into the depot and shot.