The Netherlands / Story
With the arrival of the Canadian Allies, liberation was approaching. On Sunday 8 April 1945, the Canadian Allies set up their headquarters on the border of Overijssel and Drenthe. With the changing of the front, the German troops regrouped near Hoogeveen, in what was at the time Camp Ten Arlo.
To get a good idea of the amount of German troops, the Canadians asked the Internal Armed Forces to go to the camp to assess the situation. Three young men from Zuidwolde were prepared to conduct this reconnaissance, which wasn’t without its risks.
Hylle de Vries, Jan Schrotenboer and Klaas van der Haar left the Canadian headquarters on Monday 9 April, never to return. They were captured by the German soldiers that very afternoon and taken to Ten Arlo Camp to be locked up in a guard barracks with Jo Reinders, from Hoogeveen.
Sole survivor and eyewitness
For the three men, this meant the beginning of the end. As the sole survivor and eyewitness, after the war Jo Reinders recorded how he and the three ‘boys', as he consistently called them later, spent the last hours in the camp.
That afternoon and evening, on 9 April, developments followed in quick succession. The Canadian troops were approaching and the last German troops were preparing to leave. They were left with only one mission: to prepare the destruction of the camp. Soon a fight of fire ensued between the Allies and the remaining German troops, with the guard barracks in the line of fire. Hylle, Jan, Klaas and Jo were quickly moved by their occupiers to a nearby bunker.
One big inferno
By around 6.30pm, the Ten Arlo barracks had become one big inferno. Before they left, the German troops threw several hand grenades through the bunker's air duct, and some terrifying explosions followed. Pieces of the bunker’s concrete flew all around. However, the dividing wall in the bunker caught the concrete and shrapnel, and all four of the imprisoned men remained unharmed.
Jo Reinders knew his way around the camp and urged the three other men to go with him. Jan Schrotenboer did not dare. He stayed in the bunker and died there from the all-consuming smoke. In the panic caused by the chaos of fire and smoke, it was ultimately only Jo Reinders who managed to save himself and survive the war.
Author: Albert Metselaar, recorded account by eyewitness and sole survivor Jo Reinders