The Netherlands / Story

A bitter-sweet liberation




For Appingedam the real misery only starts after the liberation when the Germans shell the town with artillery. Seven thousand inhabitants are evacuated.

The medieval town gets a shower of shells. When the shooting finally stops, 154 buildings are destroyed, 326 heavily damaged and 1152 slightly damaged. The damage is also extensive in surrounding villages. In Nieuweschans, Nieuwolda, Beerta and Finsterwolde, a total of 1,400 buildings were severely and slightly damaged. The center of Woldendorp is in ruins and Termunten has 49 fewer houses and farms. 470 buildings are heavily damaged.

Roelf Mulder from Appingedam is at home with his father, mother, brother and sisters when the Canadians sprint through the streets with their weapons at the ready. “The houses in our street were spared, but not a single window was left intact. A stream of people packed and slumped past our house. We also joined. At the end of the Fivelkade at the Damsterdiep we saw a Bren Carrier that had driven onto a mine and was lying upside down in the water. The dead driver was still lying by the side of the road. He had lost both legs. A little boy walked over and shook those legs out of the boots. He walked away happy with it.

We wanted to walk to Ten Boer. On the way we saw that dead Germans Roelf Mulder 301 were tied to the trees along the road. I suspect the Canadians did this. Near Ekenstein we had to cross the Oosterwijtwerdermaar. A rowboat sailed back and forth. My mother first went to the other side with my brother in the pram. But then a bomb fell into the water and the rower didn't dare anymore. The rest then walked into a meadow and laid a plank over the water. That's how we got to the other side. We ended up at a farmer near Thesinge. This farmer threw some straw in the barn and there we slept with about forty people.”

Fivelkade, 9901 GG Appingedam