The Raid¹ of 1st
From the diary of Jacoba Jeanette (Cootje) Callenbach (220.127.116.11)
On Sunday morning we heard that the Putten² Highway was closed and covered by German small arms fire. It turned out that there had been an attack on a German Officer, who was travelling in a car at the time. It was supposed that he had important documents with him and that the closure of the road was associated with the attack. This was later confirmed.
Things remained quiet for the rest of the day, until the early evening, when we got a phone call to advise us that Mr Knottnerus, had been arrested. My father took off in a hurry as did my uncle a short while later. (My uncle and his family had moved in with us in September.) There was a large raid in the area and when the men were not home the Germans took the women, but before that they would thoroughly search the whole house. In the afternoon we had anticipated this and had done our own search to ensure that nothing incriminating, such as illegal pamphlets, could be found. My mother had put on a very thick frock, on the advice of Aunt Paula, in case she was arrested.
By about 7.30 pm my mother went out to post a letter to my Father. Aunt Paula and I are home alone with the four little children. Aunt Paula puts two year old Lisa to bed and I am reading a bed time story to the other three. Then.... suddenly there is a loud banging on the door. I am frightened and listen carefully. Aunt Paula goes to the door. The children notice that something is not right. They ask: ‘What is happening?”, “Oh, nothing” I reply and I try to get on with the story I am reading but my voice catches every now and then.
“What is Mammie doing downstairs, Coot?” asks Kees. I don’t hear that Kees asks me a question and continue reading without understanding what I am reading. Kees repeats his question. At that moment a German soldier storms up the stairs and the door is opened brusquely. A German stands in the door with a gun at the ready. He wants to search the room, but he notices the terrified look in the eyes of the little ones, he smiles and disappears.
Five minutes later I hear Aunt Paula calling out, and I hurry downstairs. It is as in a dream when I hear her say: “I have to go with them, Coot”. Quickly she says good night to the children and then she leaves with the Germans. Now I am left on my own with four little ones.
I hear movements downstairs; fortunately it is Bertha, Aunt Paula’s servant girl. She had noticed that “madam” had been taken away by the Germans and came to check how things were. By now my mother had also returned home. By 9.00 pm there is again banging on the door. This time there are three Germans. They ask if Pappa has returned yet. They then enter and immediately start searching the whole house. They use our squeeze torch³ as a light source. Later one of them nearly puts it in his pocket as they are about to leave.
a while they enter the dining room. A private looks in the cupboards, under the
table, behind the curtains, behind the armchairs, they look everywhere. The
Feldwebel smells the air to see if somebody has been smoking, then he shines his
pocket torch in my face and asks: “Sind sie die Töchter?” I nod. While
still shining the torch in my face he asks: “Ist der Vater zu Hause?”
“Nein, mein Vater ist nicht zu Hause.” He has a wry smile on his face and
looks me over from top to toe.
Mamma enters the room. She has been ordered to go with them. She gives me a kiss and then I accompany them all to the door. I am alone with Bertha. At midnight there is another knock on the door. Aunt Paula has been returned. We talk for a little while and then we go to bed.
The next day things were very unsettled in Nijkerk. Everywhere you hear stories, who has been arrested and how many. Forty four people had been picked up. Mamma was detained for five days. Three times a day we were allowed to bring food. Usually this was my job, because the Feldwebel allowed me to go inside, while others were not. Later everybody was allowed in.
Monday 20 October is a day I’ll never forget. I was walking down the street when I noticed a red glow in the direction of Putten. It was getting more and more intense. I asked some people in the street what was happening. “It is a fire,” said a smallish man. “The Huns have torched 104 houses in Putten.”
At the Town Hall, where all the detainees were held, the Obersturmfürer had declared that the same would happen to Nijkerk if the culprits were not found. The men to be transported to Germany and the women and children kicked out and the houses burnt.
Mamma came home on 6th October; the men were detained till 27th 28th. My father had been underground for the whole time.
The Dutch word here is Razzia, which denotes a raid to round up adversaries.
² Putten is a town a few kilometres NE of Nijkerk.
³ The Dutch word is Knijpkat. It is a torch without a battery, with a spring loaded a lever which one pumps to generate power.
Koning-Callenbach (18.104.22.168) provided photo copies of a number of pages out of
the diary of her sister Jacoba Jeanette (22.214.171.124), who was then still called
We thought it would be a good idea to publish these pages from the diary, seeing that it is 60 years ago this year, that the “drama Putten” happened. Many readers of the “Prophet” will remember these events.
Coot’s text has been published verbatim, no corrections have been made.
For clarification we add the following: Coot was 15 years old at the time.(b. 12.12.1928). Mr Knottnerus was joint managing director, with her father Kees (1.3.6) of the publishing firm.
Aunt Paula was the wife of Kees’ brother Frits(FJ 1.3.4). Lisa (126.96.36.199) and Kees (188.8.131.52) are the children of Frits and Paula. Juut (184.108.40.206) and Reintjen (220.127.116.11) were there but are not mentioned by name in this article.
article was first published in the magazine “The Prophet of the Velue” No 70
in the autumn of 2004. )