Thijs Poorta saw occupiers come and go

The Netherlands




The beginning and end of the war in Assen played out similarly for Thijs Poorta, only involving different players.

Thijs Poorta, from Assen, was just seven when he peered over the fence of his parents' house towards the water tower. Thijs lived on Parallelstraat (currently Hendrik de Ruiterstraat), overlooking the marechaussee barracks on the left and the railway station on the right. "It looked difficult and menacing: six helmeted, gun-armed soldiers in an open jeep-like vehicle." Gunners of the Dutch armed forces were standing at the station. Thijs expected them to start shooting. But they remained still. The jeep made a detour and the surprised gunners became prisoners of war. Assen was occupied. 

Five years later, the side window of the front room presented a similar scene. Not Germans with helmets, but a Bren Carrier with a Canadian crew alongside it. The Germans had dug foxholes along the tram line that ran through Parallelstraat. "About 10 or so in a row. It was a magnificent sight to see the Germans in those foxholes almost simultaneously raising a rifle with a white handkerchief attached. The Canadians with the Bren Carrier simply waved 'come here', and they did." The war was over and not a shot had been fired.