The Netherlands / Story

The liberation through the eyes of Spar grocer Germ Waijer




Friday 13 April 1945 "The signs of liberation are there. Where we could normally sell rationed products based on that day's distribution list at noon, sales could start immediately this morning. The occupiers were preparing for retreat. Some Germans fled on stolen bicycles. In the meantime, our customers have all collected the goods allocated to them on the vouchers. Fortunately, we were able to serve everyone properly. The tension grew by the hour, but we still had to go to bed without the liberation".

Saturday 14 April 1945 

"The same tension that morning. The rattle of machine guns came closer and closer. The Germans blew up all the bridges in the area. It was a sorry sight. All houses near the bridges were severely damaged. Windows and doors were blown out. Many façades were devastated. The bridge at Leenis was in the worst condition, they had it blown up three times. Each time there was more shooting, especially on the side where our underground was located.  We saw several fires in the area. The Canadians were getting closer and closer. I had the feeling that we would be liberated before Sunday. It was already getting dark when we heard cheers in the distance and the rattle of the first Allied vehicles on the cobblestones. Some lost Germans sought a safe haven on bicycles without tires and with anti-puncture tires." 

Sunday 15 April 1945  

"We felt the liberation coming. The Dracht was the first to be freely accessible, early Sunday morning, it was almost still dusk when the main bridge was already over the canal again. I went there early with my sons and saw the first Canadians enter the city in their vehicles. Also, a group of our own boys entered singing: Voor de Koningin en ’t Vaderland (for the Queen and the Fatherland). It's just like you're dreaming!" 

"Still, we had to be careful because even this Sunday the German occupier had not completely disappeared from the city. At two o'clock in the afternoon, the prisoners were released from Crackstate. About seventy in number. Some of them, overcome with fear and pressure, had already smashed the windows of their cells. Baker De Wolf from Begoniastraat went there and released them from their suffering. Tears of joy flowed, still in silence, because the coast was still not completely clear".