74. Markt 12 Museum

74. Markt 12 Museum


Markt 14, Aalten, Holandia
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Okupacja Opór
Liberation Route Europe

74. Markt 12 Museum

During World War II, only a small proportion of the Dutch population was actively involved in resistance activities. The village of Aalten was an exception. Similar to the village at the start of the Asterix & Obelix comic books, Aalten showed considerable courage and bravery in its resistance against the occupying forces, by giving an enormous number of refugees a place to hide.

A Dutch record
In the last year of the occupation, around 2500 people found refuge in and around Aalten. The refugees were men trying to avoid forced labour in Germany as well as Jews and resistance fighters. This number is especially impressive for a village with merely 13,000 inhabitants, possibly even a record for the Netherlands.

The willingness of the people of Aalten may have been due to the extraordinary powers of persuasion of ‘Uncle John’ Wikkerink ('Ome Jan'), a leader of the resistance who encouraged so many farming families in the area to hide and protect refugees.

War diaries
Peter van Essen from Apeldoorn was one of these men trying to escape forced labour in Germany. He travelled to Aalten and made contact with ‘Uncle John’, who found him a hiding place at Cuckoo farm (Boerderij de Koekoek) with ‘Uncle’ Herman ter Horst and his family. He hid in a hollow inside the haystack above the pigsty and wrote a diary about his experiences. Despite the dogfights and the bombs over the village, there was still time for jokes, and for falling in love with Henny, ‘Uncle Johns’ daughter. They were married in 1947 and emigrated to Canada five years later.

Markt 12
Some of the refugees were hidden in the attic of Markt 12, a historic building on the market in the centre of Aalten. This was right at the heart of the lion’s den, above the local German commander’s office, which was downstairs in the drawing room. In 2004, the building was converted into a museum and the attic room and commanders’ office were reinstated as they would have been at the time. The museum is home to many personal stories, which clearly illustrate how people were forced to make their own, very individual decisions during the war years.

Informacje turystyczne

Square behind Markt 14, Aalten GPS code: 51.92778, 6.58167

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Markt 14, Aalten, Holandia