The Netherlands / Audiospot

59. The secret village

DestructionOccupationTerror and extermination




By spring 1943, a camp had established itself in the Soerelse forest near Nunspeet as a safe haven for people in hiding. The Secret Village as it was known, offered refuge to more than eighty people, among them were Jews, British airmen and German deserters. Then on Sunday the 29th of October 1944, disaster struck. Two Dutch SS soldiers of the 'Landstorm Nederland' Division, hunting in the forest, ran into one of the boys from the camp. The camp was destroyed and executions followed. Most of the refugees managed to escape.

During the Second World War, a secret village had been hidden deep in the forest near Vierhouten, near the house named 'Pas Op' (Beware). It was built to provide shelter for more than 80 refugees who lived there for more than a year. It started with a couple of Jewish people in a workman's hut in the forest. Then nine huts were built where Jews, British airmen, German deserters and other refugees could be hidden. Grandpa Bakker and his wife, Aunt Cor were responsible for finding food. Others helped to find clothes, stoves, pots and pans as well as medical supplies. There were a lot of people involved and it almost went terribly wrong, twice.

On Sunday 29th October 1944, the camp was discovered. Two soldiers from the "SS-Freiwilligen Regiment 83 Landstorm Nederland" (Dutch SS men) were hunting in the forest when they ran into one of the boys from the camp. The camp was destroyed that very evening and eight Jews and a German deserter were taken prisoner. The rest of the refugees managed to escape. On the 31st October, the eight Jews were shot near Vierhouten. The huts seen here now, are reconstructions that have been built since the war to replicate those that stood originally in this unique village.

Tourist information

In the woods between Nunspeet and Vierhouten, by The Secret Village (Het Verscholen Dorp) on Pas-Op-Weg road. GPS code: 52°20'24.04’’N 5°52’10.79’’O