73. Revenge sparks mass execution
Early on the morning of 2nd March 1945, 46 prisoners were taken to a wheat field just outside of Varsseveld, where they were executed as a reprisal for the hanging of four German soldiers. The wheat that summer grew taller where the mass execution had taken place than anywhere else in the field.
De Bark resistance group
On 25th February 1945, just south-east of Varsseveld, thirty or more members of the resistance, refugees and allied pilots, were hiding at the resistance group's headquarters on De Bark Farm when they heard German soldiers approaching in the distance. The group held its breath, hoping the soldiers would pass by, but they did not. Three soldiers forced their way into the farm, searching the cupboards for food. Instead, they found the resistance group.
A devil's dilemma
The men on the farm had no alternative but to take the three Germans prisoner, as well as the driver who had been waiting in the car outside. Then they were faced with an impossible dilemma: set the soldiers free and risk sounding the alarm, or keep them prisoner. They felt neither was an option and decided to hang the German soldiers and stage their death to make it look like an accident. They put the bodies back in the car and blew it up by a tree on the road from Varsseveld to Aalten. The partially burnt-out car and the bodies were discovered by a German patrol later that day. It was obvious from the remains at the scene, that the soldiers had been executed.
The German occupiers chose to retaliate; and their methods were horrific. The perpetrators were nowhere to be found so they took 46 prisoners from the prison in Doetinchem, and executed them. These ‘Todeskandidaten’ (prisoners on death row) had been incarcerated for relatively minor offences, or even only on suspicion of a crime. Yet they were taken to Varsseveld early on the morning of 2nd March 1945, to a wheat field close to where the car had been blown up. All 46 were executed by machine-gun fire.
Warmonument Rademakersbroek, Rademakersbroek, 7051HC, Varsseveld GPS code: 51.9295694, 6.484233