Wednesday, January 29, 2014

De Stijkelgroep

In planning my visit to Westduin, I came across the Dutch War Grave information regarding the Stijkelgroep.
The leader of the group was one Johan Aarldrik Stijkel,( also known as  Dr Eerland de Vries)  he was born  in Rotterdam in 1911
Stijkel in a letter to his father from prison stated that he saw it as his duty to work against the German occupation forces.

The group's  aim was to gather intelligence on the German's movements around Holland and pass this back to England - as an example the group transmitted data on positions around IJmuiden, anchorages of seaplanes in Rotterdam and ammunition depots.
This was risky work and the group which numbered around 80 brave souls were inexperienced in espionage, as a result sadly made some basic errors which risked their safety. Major amongst these was allowing themselves to be infiltrated a collaborator called  Anton_van_der_Waals (executed following a trial in The Hague in 1950),  van der Vaals was known as the worst traitor active in The Netherlands during the war having given information ensuring the deaths of many from the Dutch resistance.
The group were eventually trapped during a botched attempt to secretly sail out of the harbour in Scheveningen and rendezvous at sea with a British submarine on the evening of  2 April 1941. Having been betrayed they were unaware that the German's had blocked the harbour and arranged for their arrest onboard the fishing boat KW133 "Eendracht". 

Stijkel attempted to escape however he and two other members of the group were arrested and taken to prison nearby in the notorious 'Oranjehotel'.

Over the following weeks other members of the group were arrested an brought to the prison.
The unusual thing was what happened next. The usual way in which traitors were treated by the Nazi's was to execute them publicly in their country in order to subdue the population. This group however were treated differently. On 26 March 1942 the group were transferred to a Berlin prison to await trial.
The trial was held in secret beginning in September 1942, on 26 September the verdict was delivered on the 39 -  32 were sentenced to death and 6 spared death to be sent to 'the camps'... one of the group died in prison.
Efforts were made by the Dutch authorities through the Swedish Embassy in Berlin for clemency and also to use the group in a swap for German spies held in the west. 
All of these attempts failed and on 4th June 1942 at Tegel Berlin,the group beginning with Stijkel himself were executed at 5 minute intervals.
The burial was in what was eventually to become the Russian sector of Berlin and in 1947 the group were repatriated to The Netherlands. A memorial service was held at the Grote Kerk in The Hague on 1 August 1947.
Coffins containing the group were then taken through the city  to Westduin for internment.

 Rest in Peace


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