It is the personal stories that keep WW II alive. Many of these stories remained untold for a long time. With the passage of time, there is more room now to share these stories, while it is still possible. The ‘Story catchers’ of the Nationaal Onderduikmuseum are always looking for these stories. Below is a small anthology.

“Oh, dear Annie!”

Kees “Rakie” Verheul from Amsterdam, who was one of the people in hiding with the Ebbers family in the Aaltense Heurne during the war, was madly in love with neighbor girl Annie Obbink from the “Slaa” farm.

Across the border

The rural border region was extremely suitable as a hiding place for the hunted, with its richly varied landscape, with forests and lots of thickets, numerous farms with barns, haystacks and – at the time – poorly accessible access roads.

Church raid

On Sunday 30 January 1944, the Germans occupiers raid two churches in Aalten, looking for men between the ages of 19 and 23 who are evading compulsory labor in Germany and are in hiding. 48 Men were arrested, 5 did not return alive.

Fatal curiosity

13-year-old Jan van der Zwan got along well with the somewhat surly German SS commander. On 20 January, Jan walked into the commander’s office. There he saw the German’s gun and couldn’t control his curiosity.

Frank Dell

In the night of 14 to 15 October 1944, the British Mosquito bomber of RAF pilot Frank Dell crashed near Münster, Germany. Frank fled and walked for days, eventually ending up in Lintelo where he became involved in resistance activities.

Friendly face of evil

He was the friendly face of Nazi evil: Albert Gemmeker, commander of Camp Westerbork. He was known as a correct commander, who insisted on not knowing what was happening to the Jews in camps like Auschwitz. But is that true?

Ivy Philips

Ivy Philips, a Jewish boy, fled from Zutphen at age 15 with his friend Fritz Cohen. He spent WW2 near the border in Dinxperlo, pretending to be students Jan Klinkenberg and Frits Verwey, who didn’t want to go to Germany for the Arbeidseinsatz.

Jennie Kempink

Jennie Kempink lived with her parents at the address Markt 12 in Aalten. The family was very sociable: the house was a meeting place for many, even during WW2, with the German Ortskommandantur in their living room.

Joop Levy

From September 1942, Joop Levy, together with his parents Philip and Elwine Levy-Meyer, went into hiding at the Ebbers family in Lintelo. They can’t go outside. First they sleep in a room in the house, but later in a shelter above the stable.

Like hunted game

Thea and Wolfgang knew each other from the Jewish youth club in Winterswijk, Netherlands. Wolfgang fled Germany when Hitler came to power. Thea was born in Winterswijk and lived with her family above her parents’ clothing store.

Mass execution

On 2 March 1945, 46 men, so called ‘Todeskandidaten’, were executed near Varsseveld as a reprisal for the killing of four German Fallschirmjäger that were found in a half-blown, partially burnt-out car at a bomb crater on the Aaltenseweg.

Ome Jan

‘Ome Jan’ (Uncle Jan) Wikkerink was an important resistance leader in Aalten during World War II. In his house in the Patrimoniumstraat in Aalten in 1942, the LO was founded: the National Organisation for Aid to People in Hiding.

Peter van Essen

At the age of 21, in 1943, Van Essen rang the doorbell of a man known as Ome Jan, a leader of the resistance movement in the town of Aalten. This was the beginning of two years in hiding at a farm named ‘De Koekoek’ in Dale near Aalten, at times over a pigsty in a barn. He kept a diary.

Roy Kay

In the night of 16 to 17 June 1944, a British bomber was shot down above the hamlet of Barlo near Aalten. Flight engineer Roy Kay was the only one to survive the crash. His parachute became a cradle cloth and a wedding dress.

Silent companion

Ewald Heming and Elisabeth Schlattmann had known each other since 1933. They lived in Stadtlohn, just across the border in Germany and worked in the same office. He was eight years older than she. In 1939 their friendship turned to love.

Tante Riek and Gradus Kobus

A conversation between Helena Kuipers-Rietberg and pastor Fredrik Slomp after his sermon in Winterswijk in October 1942, generally considered to be the moment when the National Organization for Help to People in Hiding (LO) was established.

The Ladies Jolink

The sisters Minnie and Gerrie Jolink from Varsseveld provided many hiding places in and around Varsseveld during WW II. However, the sisters themselves were betrayed and eventually died of the hardships in Ravensbrück.

Who was Nita really?

In September 1942, eight-year-old Anita Waisvisz was allowed to live with the family of the widow Riek Heinen-Rots in Aalten. She pretended to be a niece from Surinam, who was unable to return home. She became a real member of the family, with her ‘brother’ Henk and ‘sisters’ Dien and Annie.


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