The Putten Raid

On the night of 30 September 1944, the Dutch resistance ambushed a car carrying two officers and two corporals of the German Wehrmacht near the Oldenallerbrug bridge between the village of Putten and Nijkerk. One of the officers, Leutenant Otto Sommer was injured in the ambush but escaped and made his way to a nearby farmhouse where he raised the alarm. Although not thought to be seriously injured he died on the 1st October. The second German officer. Oberleutenant Eggart was taken prisoner by the resistance fighters. He had also been injured. On the 1st of October he was left at the roadside relatively near to a checkpoint. He was subsequently found by the Germans and recovered from his injuries. The two corporals fled during the ambush. One of the resistance fighters, Frans Slotboom, was wounded during the attack and later died.

On the afternoon of the 1st October a German reprisal raid was conducted.  General Friedrich Christiansen ordered his troops to surround the Putten. All of the inhabitants of the village were rounded up and marched into the village square. Six men and a woman were shot dead during the raid. Over one hundred houses in the village were set alight. The women and men were then separated. The women were held at the church until 9pm, while the men and boys were detained separately nearby at the village school. The following day, 661 men between the ages of 18 and 50 were taken to Polizeiliches Durchgangslager Amersfoort camp. On the 4th October  59 of the older unfit men were released. The remaining 602 men left Amersfoort on the 11 October and were taken by train to Neuengamme concentration camp as forced labour. During the transportation, 13 men escaped by jumping off the train. From Neuengamme, some were moved to other camps or sub-camps, including LadelundBergen-BelsenMeppenVersenBeendorfWöbbelin and Malchow. Although none of the men were known to be in the resistance the Germans treated them as if they were and the men were subsequently used for slave labour as well as being deliberately tortured.  Several of the men were kept in small cages at the camps which prevented them from standing and kept them in stress position for prolonged periods in some cases months.  A total of 552 men and 1 woman died, mostly victims of torture, malnutrition, slave labour and infectious diseases. Only 48 men  returned after the end of the war, but another 5 died due to their mistreatment after they arrived home. Of those who had been kept in the cages, all were crippled for the rest of their lives.

A monument commemorating the victims of the raid was unveiled by Queen Juliana on 1 October 1949. The monument includes a memorial park designed by Jan Bijhouwer. The garden includes 660 symbolic graves and a sandstone statue the ‘treurende weduwe’ (mourning widow) by Mari Andriessen, better known as ‘het Vrouwtje van Putten’ (The little Lady of Putten). The statue looks toward the Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Putten, from where the men were deported.



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