The Netherlands / Monument

How things went wrong on Wijsterseweg




The Netherlands' Internal Armed Forces (Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten - BS) prepared to take over as soon as the Germans were gone. Weapons from drops were waiting scattered here and there in depots. This included Wijsterseweg. Jan Vos managed this depot and he knew he was going to put together a BS forces as soon as liberation arrived. But then things went wrong.

In 1945, Wijsterseweg was a dirt road, along which a farming community had developed in just under 25 years. The moorland just north of Hoogeveen had given way to some farms there, where the residents rather unexpectedly became actively involved in the liberation of Drenthe.

The action by French paratroopers in Drenthe was codenamed "Amherst". They were men from the 3rd and 4th French Parachute Regiment SAS. They were supposed to take strategic points in groups behind the German lines and create so much unrest that the Germans could not adequately defend Drenthe. Some groups did not arrive at the correct location and the promised jeeps did not arrive either. Consequently, not all paratroopers knew their assignment well.

For example, on the night of 7-8 April, a group of French soldiers landed near the Spaarbank forest, just west of Wijsterseweg. There was not much they could do. The men tried to make contact with residents of Wijsterseweg, who welcomed them warmly.

Jan Vos' home became the headquarters. But with this, the houses also became military targets. The weapons dropped with the paratroopers were distributed, and Jan Vos saw this as a sign that the BS squad could be formed. Several Dutch men, local residents, people in hiding and anyone interested who came to watch were called upon, while alerted Germans built up an attack group in the nearby forest.

On the afternoon of 9 April 1945, a brief but fierce firefight ensued, during which the Germans expelled the completely surprised French and BS forces from the forest. Jan Vos' house was burned down. The French paratroopers withdrew with some Dutch BS forces. The rest were rounded up by the Germans. Believing that the Scholing family housed some more French people, an attack followed on that house. The entire family was killed in the process.

The prisoners were 'sorted' on the main road through the Spaarbank forest. Those who had fought with the French, or were suspected of doing so, were taken away. They were supposed to be taken to Westerbork camp, but were shot on the way: the first in Pesse and the rest in Spier.

There is a memorial in Spier with the names of those executed there. Those names are also found on a memorial at Wijsterseweg, along with the Scholing family.