The Netherlands / Monument
The monument keeps alive the memory of the execution of seven men who were shot by a German firing squad on De Hamert, a moorland in Wellerlooi, on 2 May 1943, because they had participated in the April-May strike of 1943.
The national April-May strike broke out after an announcement on 29 April 1943 that all former soldiers who had fought for the Netherlands in May 1940 had to report for transport to Germany as prisoners of war. They were to carry out forced labour there.
At first, the highest representative of the SS in the Netherlands, Hanns Rauter, demanded that ten strikers in Limburg be sentenced to death. That number was not achieved. There were no more than seven death sentences. Among those sentenced were three miners and the pioneer of the resistance Marinus (alias Bob) Bouman from Roermond.
The seven men were taken in a military truck from Maastricht to De Hamert in Wellerlooi, where the sentence was executed by a firing squad of fifteen men.
On instructions of Richard Nitsch, a member of the Maastricht Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police) which was involved in the executions, the mass grave was found on 30 June 1946, and the mortal remains of the victims could be reburied in their own places of residence. In 1950, the municipality of Bergen had the Monument der Gevallenen placed on the location of the mass grave.
Commemoration on 4 May
In the meantime, the memorial has acquired a broader significance. During the annual Remembrance Day on 4 May, a silent march to the monument is held. On arrival on location, not only the strikers who were shot are commemorated, but all other Dutch victims of the Second World War, as well as people who were killed in other war situations and during postwar peace missions.