De KENNEMER DUINEN
'In these Kennemerdunes sleep our dead.'
Taken from the Haarlems daily newspaper 4 May 1993.
reporter - Willemien Spook
As the seasons start to change, and the population at large take to their bicycles for leisure rides through the sand dunes in the direction of the sea, it is hard to imagine.
Still it did happen, here in our own Kennermer sand dunes.
Where the May blossom now starts to come into flower, and the sea breeze shaves the top of the marram grass, hundreds of Dutch nationals, whom for whatever reason upset the oppressor, - were assassinated, murdered or dumped sometimes ten at once, sometimes just a single person -.
They were found in early may of 1945, 422 individuals. Most of them had found their end in the last few weeks, days and months, before the liberation.
Eight large memorial stones reminders of where the bodies were found, some hidden amongst the undergrowth of the sand dunes, others far more visible on the edge of the paths as cyclists pass on their way,.
On these stones is etched, in frightening simplicity, how many murdered resistance members are buried in and around this place.
Very soon after the liberation, the first of the mass graves were discovered.
A total of 45 separate sites. The task of identifying these bodies was not a simple one.
Dr H. Wamstekker, a local surgeon and old freedom fighter, was in charge of the overall operation. Most of the bodies had been robbed of clothes and personal belongings. The only lead could be taken from the dentures of the victims.
Dentists nationwide participated in the project, and ultimately identification was successful.
Also, the statements from an imprisoned N.S.B. undertaker, who at the time had been instructed to take the bodies of the persons murdered by the Germans to the sand dunes and leave them behind, 'in a tidily orderly manner'.
Through his immaculately organised lists and notebooks, people were found and identified. Only 2 bodies have remained unidentified.
This operation had taken months to accomplish, and hundreds of volunteers were involved, day and night, to give those fallen their honourable last resting place.
The first re-burial in the new Remembrance Cemetery took place on 27th November 1945, in the presence of the Royal Family. The last re-internment was 10 years later. In all 422 bodies were found in the sand dunes.
Victims from other sites are also re-interned in the remembrance cemetery.
Also, some of the victims have been reburied in family graves, in home town cemeteries, or in the place of their execution. Usually on the request of family members.
In turn members of resistance groups, who died elsewhere, have been buried together with their comrades in this cemetery.
One woman amongst these many: Hannie Schaft.
The total number of Graves are 373.
One gravestone carries the epitaph:
|In honour of those friends|
from the resistance,
who lost their lives in the fight
but whose bodies have not been found
or are laid to rest elsewhere.
There are no human remains under this stone.
In 1949 Stones were placed at eight sites with the text:
|Here lie (number) murdered resistance people. |
Found in may 1945.
These stones, (Maulbrunner sandstone) were carved by Toon Lavertu, aged 24, with the help of his father. They were carved at the site of the excavations in the Kennemer sand dunes. The pre-cut stone was Proud cut, a form of relief cutting that removes stone leaving the letters standing proud above the stone. This process took several weeks.
According to Lavertu this was a very moving experience. "All around us there were the residues of holes, where executions had taken place. Machine gun casings were scattered all around us. The ground breathed murder."
Taken from Haarlems Dagblad, (2000), reporter Carlo Nijveen.
In the spring of 2000 the sandstone monuments have been replaced with Red Granite stones. This change was deemed necessary, because six out of eight had crumbled and deteriorated over the years.
The other two, the ones adopted by Zandvoordse Orange Nassau school and the Hanny Schaft school, still seemed in good order, but have nevertheless been changed now, so as to anticipate the inevitable deterioration.
The Local Authority Bloemendaal, and the Cemetery of Overveen decided a year ago that the old stones weighing about 1700 kg needed to be changed.
Sawn and carved in France, this took about 3 months, according to J. Troupin, the Haarlem stone carver.
No surviving relatives were present at this ceremony, only the mayor of Zandvoort, Mr. Van der Heyden, and the Mayoress of Bloemendaal, Mrs Snoeck.
With these Red Granite stones in the sand dunes, three small, and five large groups of war victims are remembered. One of those is Hannie Schaft.
With thanks to Donata Trace de Reus - University of Northumbria, Newcastle. DSUM
for the translation