The Brabant village Oisterwijk and Operation Market Garden
Wehrmacht deserter Ernst Haalboom
The following is the story of Imperial German and former German Wehrmacht soldier
Ernst Haalboom. Ernst Haalboom deserted the Wehrmacht in September of 1944 and ended
up in hiding in Boxtel during the last months of war during 1944/45. While in hiding
Haalboom would play a modest role in the Boxtel underground movement. This story
is based on a hand-written report by Ernst Haalboom, the Haalboom family archive,
the Netherlands Property Administration Institute (Nederlandse Beheersinstituut or
NBI), documentation from the Dutch National Archives (2.09.16), files 84891, 3394
(PE27'1645) and 5706 (WFV 3603), a report on the Boxtel underground movement and
the hidding Allied airborne troops in the Kampina forest written by the Boxtel resistance
man Klaas Dekker, official documents from the municipal of Boxtel from 1945 and interviews
with survivors and eye witnesses. Special thanks’ to Pieter van den Hout.
Ernst Haalboom was a good German
Imperial German (Reichsdeutsche) was the name for all German citizens of the German
Empire as it existed between 1871 and 1945. Most Imperial Germans who were called
for military service did so because they had no choice. After all, those who refused
risked certain death for desertion.
Imperial German Ernst Haalboom was born in Ellinghausen-Dortmund Germany on 16 December
1906. By 1929 he resided in the Dutch town Winschoten in the northern Dutch province
of Groningen. Haalboom thanked his Dutch surname to his Dutch ancestors. In March
of 1941 he married the Dutch Sietske Haalboom-Pruissen and from this marriage a son
came forth who, like his father, was named Ernst. The young Ernst was born in November
of 1942. Sietske always said she had a feeling that her husband would not survive
the war and therefore her son was named after his father.
Before the outbreak of the Second World War Ernst Haalboom worked as a tailor at
the Groenewold company in the Dutch village Musselkanaal. He was a respected worker
and known as a good craftsman. Haalboom was a fierce anti-Nazi man and since the
German invasion of the Netherlands in May of 1940, and the subsequent Dutch capitulation,
he had a very difficult life. Already early after the outbreak of the war the Germans
had stated that all Imperial Germans would be treated as Germans, which automatically
meant that these men could be called for German military service.
From 1942 Haalboom was almost constantly harassed by the German authorities and through
calls from the German District Commander of Groningen who ordered him to report for
duty and to comply with German law. Haalboom did not comply with these calls and
he refused to appear for duty. Instead he and his family moved to the village Stadskanaal
were they moved in to a house in street Handelskade on number 323-1. During this
period a benevolent doctor from Stadskanaal was able to keep him from military service
by reporting him sick again and again. Finally, in 1943, the Dutch police and the
Dutch National Socialist Movement (N.S.B.) managed to track down Haalbooms address
and planned to arrest him at his home. Ernst however was luckely tipped on forehand
on the plans which led him to escape his house. The day they came for Haalboom villagers
had gathered in the street after word had spread that he was to be arrested. However,
on arrival of the authorities Haalboom was long gone. Previously he had agreed upon
with his wife that he would send a postcard signed with the name J. Groenhof when
he would be in hiding at a safe place. After some time this postcard indeed arrived
in Stadskanaal and, with the knowledge that her husband had found a safe hiding place,
she decided to move to another place with the young Ernst. She did not want to stay
in the house alone with her son and therefor moved to the nearby village Meeden near
Groningen were her sister ran a hotel annex restaurant.
Eventually Ernst Haalboom was arrested in Winschoten by German authorities in the
beginning of 1943 and he was sent to a prison camp for conscientious objectors. Several
of these kind of camps existed in the Netherlands. Already from the beginning of
World War II German conscientious objectors were locked up by the German authorities.
For instance in a Jewish refugee camp named 'Vianda’ in Hoek van Holland (from 1939),
in concentration camp Camp Amersfoort (from 1941/42) and in seminary Haarendael in
Haaren (from 1943). It is presumably during his imprisonment that Ernst Haalboom
had a number tattooed in the inside of his upper left arm. During this time Haalboom
got a forced military training and, according to a photograph of him in his military
clothing, he got attached to a military unit. As a German private he was assigned
to carry out guard duties at various places in the Netherlands. Eventually in august
of 1944 he managed to desert his military unit and from the area of the village Bussum
he fled to the town of Boxtel where he hid on various locations until 1945. It is
likely that Ernst Haalboom came in to contact with a Dutch underground or resistance
movement, or even a German resistance movement, during his military service between
early 1943 and August 1944. After his desertion Haalboom would experience numerous
of dangerous assignments while with an underground/resistance movement. About this
period Haalboom wrote a simple but nevertheless very valuable report. In it he described
how he, as a German Wehrmacht deserter, ended up in hiding in Boxtel in the province
North Brabant and who of the Boxtel population helped and hid him. It is clear that
after his desertion he cycled on a bicycle from Bussum in the province North Holland
all the way to the southern Dutch province North-Brabant where he carried out reconnaissance
assignments for, most presumably, the Dutch underground.
After his forced military training Ernst Haalboom got attached to regiment Sicherungs-Regiment
26. This regiment was tasked with the guarding of bridges and warehouses in the Netherlands.
He was placed in Einheit 8. Kompanie II (unit eight of the second company). This
regiment was stationed in a barracks in the village Laren near Bussum, and in this
area Haalboom most presumably was tasked with guard duties. Not far from Laren lay
the city Amersfoort where around 1941/42 the Germans ran Camp Amersfoort, a transit
camp for deporting Dutch Jews.* In 1943 began an expansion of Camp Amersfoort and
about one hundred Imperial Germans worked on the construction of the camp. Afterwards
some of the Imperial Germans were actually stationed at the camp as guards.
*Considering the fact that in this period also conscientious objectors were imprisoned
in Camp Amersfoort it could be possible that Ernst Haalboom may have been locked
up at the camp or that he was involved in the guarding of Camp Amersfoort.
Wedding picture of Ernst Haalboom and Sietske Haalboom-Pruissen.
A number of Imperial Germans that served in the German Wehrmacht from 1942 were stationed
in Laren, just as Ernst Haalboom. Located here was the Crailo barracks ore Camp Crailo,
a former Dutch army barracks and military training facility, also known as Camp Laren,
a name the barracks got in the First World War. At Camp Crailo an Imperial German
by the name of Ulrich Rehorst secretly ran a German resistance group from 1942 together
with a couple of his German comrades. Ulrich Rehorst was also attached to Sicherungs-Regiment
26 just as Ernst Haalboom and also a firm anti-Nazi. Around mid-1942 Rehorst came
in to contact with a member of the Dutch underground in Laren and Blaricum-Eemnes.
It was the Laren architect Cornelis de Graaff. Rehorst suggested to De Graaff the
idea to form a resistance group and to work together. De Graaff accepted the idea
and the Rehorst Group was born. De Graaff then became the main contact between the
Dutch team and the group led by Ulrich Rehorst. As Wehrmacht soldiers these men were
a valuable asset to the Dutch cause. By the Dutch resistance therefore an urgent
appeal was made to all German group members to not desert their posts. The members
of the Rehorst Group not only passed through German military information to the Dutch
resistance, but also provided them with weaponry and uniforms. They further played
an important role in the transfer of German military intelligence to the Allies.
It is quite possible that Ernst Haalboom was also a member of the Rehorst Group.
Haalbooms’ desertion from the Wehrmacht presumably took place on 1 September. Within
his regiment however, it was announced on 4 September that Haalboom had disappeared.
Nevertheless there was made no official report, neither of his missing nor of his
death. It is known that Haalboom stayed at Bussum after his desertion.
Ernst Haalboom dressed in his military clothing.
In his hand-written report that he wrote shortly after the liberation of Boxtel he
describes how he left Bussum on 1 September of 1944. He left the village at half
past six in the evening and traveled by bicycle to the village Hedel at the river
Maas, in the province Gelderland, just north of the city 's-Hertogenbosch. Here he
arrived at 3 o'clock in the night and he would stay here for a total of three days.
In those three days he ate no food and on the third day he opened a secret letter.*
It is most likely that the content of this secret letter brought him to Boxtel, because
in his report he described how he went from Boxtel to the Moerdijk bridges at the
river Hollands Diep near the village Moerdijk. Haalboom however did not describe
who he met during those days or what he exactly had been doing.
*Contact resistance? Was Ernst Haalboom doing reconnaissance for the Dutch resistance
at the bridges of Hedel (bridge over the river Maas) and Moerdijk, and did he maybe
had to flee for the Germans when he returned to Boxtel from Moerdijk when he perhaps
was stopped and checked?
Haalboom managed to return to Boxtel again as his report reveals he somehow managed
to escape from Boxtel in the morning at half past seven. Haalboom then found a hiding
place outside of Boxtel at a farm that was run by farmer Antoon ‘Toon’ de Groot.
This farm was situated in hamlet Lennisheuvel along road Lennisheuvel on number 53,
today named road Kempseweg number 10.* Here he stayed hidden for thirteen days in
a two meter deep hole in the ground behind the farm in the Kampina forest. During
the evenings farmer De Groot brought him something to eat. After large numbers of
airborne troops had landed in North Brabant on 17, 18 and 19 September Haalboom left
his hiding place and was brought deeper in to the forest. Local forester Aalt van
den Ham provided him a place to hide in his house which was named ‘Huize Kampina’.
Haalboom described that he was captured here two weeks later on Sunday 1 October
by five Germans and also that he managed to escape thereafter. A cousin of Haalboom
remembered a conversation with him after the war in which Haalboom explained how
he was captured and in which way he had escaped. After German soldiers had stopped
him they had demanded his papers. Haalboom had not been able to identify himself
as his papers were still at Van Hams’ house in his room on the first floor. He was
then taken to the house of forester Van den Ham under the threat of a gun, and once
at the house Haalboom went up the stairs to his room. Instead of returning with his
papers directly Haalboom took a weapon and from a window took aim on the German soldiers
that were waiting in front of the house. He fired some rounds and in doing so hit
and killed one of the German soldiers. In the commotion that followed Haalboom was
able to escape from the house and flee in to the dense forest of Kampina. During
his escape he would run in to the Boxtel resistance members Klaas Dekker and the
married resistance couple Grard and Door van der Meijden. Klaas Dekker described
this encounter in his report on the aid to the Allied airborne troops in Kampina
that he wrote after the war for NIOD, the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation.
In that period the Boxtels resistance had hidden over more than one hundred Allied
airborne soldiers in the Kampina forest. Due to a variety of reasons these soldiers
had landed prematurely by glider and parachute in a wide area around Boxtel during
operation Market-Garden. Local resistance people had helped these soldiers in their
hiding and had assisted in forming them into a large group. Then, aided by the Boxtel
resistance, they had found Kampina to be their perfect hiding place.
*Forester Aalt van den Ham originated from the north of the Netherlands and he pronounced
De Groots’ name as Antoon instead of Toon. This is the reason why Ernst Haalboom
referred to De Groot as Antoon de Groot in his report in which he also wrote names
from people that assisted him during his escape and hiding.
*Authors note; Boxtel resistance man Grard van der Meijden took part in the work
for a Pilot Escape Line. Van der Meijden was befriended with farmer Toon de Groot
and forester Aalt van den Ham. It is possible that Van der Meijden was the contact
person for the resistance in Boxtel to Ernst Haalboom.
American glider men of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Division in the Kampina forest
show their sandwiches in front of the camera. Standing between them the Boxtel resistance
man Roel Dekker.
In this report Klaas Dekker also described how forester Aalt van den Ham had two
men in hiding in his house. Dekker described the way Van den Ham was stopped one
day by five Germans when he was in the forest together with one of his hiders. The
Germans had demanded their identity papers and, while Van den Ham had correct papers
on him the hider could not provide any nor could he sufficiently proof his identity.
While the forester was allowed to walk on the hider was detained. Just as Ernst Haalboom
also this hider originated from Stadskanaal, and while the Germans subjected him
to a short questioning it occurred to them that he was pretty nervous and that he
did not have the Brabant tongue. They then became suspicious and forced him to tell
them the truth. It didn't take long until he admitted to his interrogators to be
a hider and the Germans demanded he showed them the place where he was hiding. They
then took him to the forester house ‘Huize Kampina’. When they arrived at the house
the hider somehow managed to escape through the back door and to disappear in to
the dense forest. This hider from Stadskanaal must have been Ernst Haalboom. Klaas
Dekker also described that when he and the couple Grard and Door van de Meijden were
on their way to the airborne camp, then located along the small stream called Beerze
in the area between the foresters house and the hamlet Balsvoort, he noticed an unknown
man in the direct surroundings of the airborne camp. One of the American guard posts
had also spotted the man when he tried to dive out of sight. Klaas Dekker, who was
armed with a small pistol, directly went after him together with Grard van der Meijden.
Both resistance men had soon caught him and under the threat of Klaas’ pistol the
man showed them his papers that he took from his right shoe. This man appeared to
be a German deserter that had just escaped from his German captors. They then gave
the deserter, who was dressed in civilian clothing, the advice to quickly disappear
and pointed him in to the right direction, away from the airborne camp. (this was
in all probability Ernst Haalboom) The consequences of Haalbooms’ escape for the
forester and his family were that they now also had to hide for the Germans who,
on the next day of Monday 2 October, in revenge completely destroyed their home.
Ernst Haalboom stated in his report that the foresters house ‘Huize Kampina’ was
set on fire by the Germans the next Monday. According to an official Boxtel report
made up directly after the war this was a direct result of Haalbooms’ resistance
activities. During this time Haalboom had great fears that the Germans would raid
the area of Lennisheuvel. Luckily for the inhabitants of Lennisheuvel, for unclear
reasons, this raid never happened. Probably this is to be thanked due to the fact
that the German forces in the area had completely different things on their minds
after the Allied airborne landings of 17, 18 and 19 September at Best, Eerde and
Heeswijk-Dinther and the subsequent battles with American troops in the area between
Veghel and Eindhoven. Haalboom further wrote in his report that he escaped from Kampina
forest to Boxtel were he hid at the Pennings family in street Ons Doelstraat on number
14. Ons Doelstraat was also the street were Klaas Dekker and his brother and fellow
resistance man Roel Dekker lived. Also resistance man Jan Kwant, who provided assistance
to their cause to help the stranded airborne men, lived in Ons Doelstraat. Klaas
lived on number 13 while his brother lived on number 6 and Jan Kwant on number 8.
Soon after his arrival at the Pennings family Haalboom was provided forged identity
The family Pennings house at Ons Doelstraat 14 in Boxtel. Here Ernst Haalboom hid
during October 1944.
Toon de Groot, the farmer who hid Ernst Haalboom in a deep pit in the forest behind
his farm was a courageous man. In the period that the Americans were staying in their
camp along the Beerze in Kampina it was amongst others Toon de Groot, together with
his neighboring farmer Jan van Antwerpen, who supplied the food and milk for the
soldiers in support of the Boxtel resistance. The farm of De Groot was located along
the main entrance to Kampina forest and close by ran the route the resistance people
used to reach the American camp in Kampina. Farmer Jan van Antwerpen was responsible
for collecting the milk that the Americans drank. Farmer De Groot was the one that
brought the milk churn to Huize Kampina where the milk could be heated. The Boxtel
resistance than brought the milk to the soldiers. During times when Huize Kampina
could not be reached due to German activity in the surroundings the milk churn was
placed in concealment in one of the ditches in the forest. When the coast was clear
the resistance could then take the milk churn further in to the forest by bicycle.
The use of these milk churns however was not without certain risk as these churns
often were numbered. Would the Germans find one or more of these milk churns and
connect them to resistance activities the numbers could lead them to the rightful
After the loss of the forester’s house, because the Germans had destroyed it, a number
of other farmers near Kampina were found willing to also commit to the food supply
for the Americans. Two farms near De Groot were included in the supply line. They
were the farms of farmers Theo Kurstjens and Martinus ‘Tinus’ de Groot. In addition
to the willingness of farmer Theo Kurstjens to bake some extra bread with its own
oven also the Boxtel baker Van de Laar delivered his secretly baked bread for the
soldiers at these farms.
Haalboom, who ended up in hiding in Ons Doelstraat in Boxtel after he had fled from
Huize Kampina, would support the Boxtel resistance with their aid to the airborne
troops in Kampina. From Ons Doelstraat he accompanied food transports to Kampina.
The Boxtel resistance must have figured that the chance that their food transports
to Kampina would be discovered was much lesser when in the company of a German soldier.
The destinations of these transports were, besides the farm of De Groot, the farms
of farmerTinus de Groot and Jan Kustjens. Haalbooms’ role had not limited to only
the food transports.
Farmer Toon de Groot and Anna
de Groot-van den Meulengraaf.
The De Groot farm at Lennisheuvel.
His army clothing was of great importance when it came to his resistance role. He
also guided people in hiding from one place to the other while dressed in his army
clothing. According to an official post war report from the Boxtel Political Recherche
Haalboom made numerous risky and life threatening enterprises along with members
of the resistance. One of the airborne men stated that midst them had been a German
deserter that had the boldness to visit the German field kitchens around Kampina
in search for food. The farmers had to watch powerlessly how the Germans set up their
field kitchens in their yards during the last occupying weeks. In that way the kitchens
were located close but nevertheless at a safe distance from the frontline. One of
those kitchens was located on a farm bordering Kampina. The food that was prepared
here during the day was brought to the German troops along the frontline during the
night. With a lie Haalboom was able to arrange some additional food for the troops.
Ernst Haalboom wrote at the end of his report that at one point he had escaped with
a German machine pistol, a rifle, and a pistol plus 300 cartridges, which he turned
in to the Boxtel underground. Could it be that Ernst Haalboom had been involved in
the theft of German weapons from the Duinendaal complex in Boxtel, described by G.
Segers in his work 'images from the occupation years'? According to Segers’ description
it was Klaas Dekker who, shortly after 16 September 1944, stole about 300 pistols
and rifles from the weapon room of the complex that was located on the second floor.
The number of weapons seems to me to be not only very large but also very much to
be stolen by one single man. Klaas Dekker will certainly have to have had help from
Boxtel was liberated on 24 October, first by the airborne soldiers who had been hiding
in Kampina, and the next day, on the 25th for the second time by troops of the British
51 Highland Division. These troops had approached the village from the East. Haalboom
mentioned in his report, without any further details, that during that time he saved
a child. After the liberation of Boxtel Haalboom returned to the De Groot farm where
he once again went into hiding. The fact that the area was liberated and free from
Germans did not exactly mean that for his good deeds for the Boxtels resistance Haalboom
did not have to fear for his own life. For fear to be interned by the Allies, or
to be lynched by locals, Haalboom was offered secret accommodations at the farm of
Toon de Groot. From there Haalboom was soon able to make contact again with his wife
and his family and various letters would follow between Ernst Haalboom in Lennisheuvel
and his family in the North of the Netherlands. In Lennisheuvel Haalboom not only
worked for farmer De Groot but also for other farmers in the area. At night he slept
at De Groot in his barn. At that time he was constantly on the alert in order to
not to be discovered, and when unexpected visitors came to the farm he hid straight
away and disappeared. Eight-year-old foster son Jan was explained that Haalboom stayed
in Kampina, at forester Van den Ham in his temporary house. That house was the temporary
replacement for their destroyed home ‘Huize Kampina’. Jan was further told that
the house was so drafty during the night that Ernst was provided a place to sleep
in the barn of the De Groot. During that time his knowledge on the making of clothing
benefited him very much as for many people he made or repaired clothing. With the
collaboration of the former Boxtel resistance on 28 November Ernst Haalboom reported
himself at the Allied military authority and the Dutch political recherche in Eindhoven.
Here Haalboom was questioned thoroughly and the story that he told his interrogators
was found credible, and after being checked in Boxtel even confirmed. The fact that
Ernst could prove to be no Nazi was sufficient enough to not to be interned. An official
document from the military authority of the time mentioned that "given his actions
during the German occupation, and in view of his good deeds to the Allied cause,
it was decided that Haalboom was not be declared a Prisoner of War.” Instead he was
pledged full cooperation. He was not designated to a mandatory residence but completely
free in his movement. After his interrogation Haalboom stayed the night between the
evacuees and displaced persons in the Phillips Veem building in Eindhoven. In anticipation
of his papers he returned to Boxtel the next day, back to De Groots’ farm in Lennisheuvel.
In his report from 18 December he further mentioned the impact of a German V2 missile
in Boxtel (unmanned German ballistic guided missile) which caused many casualties.
Doelstraat 7 and resistanceman Klaas Dekker from Ons Doelstraat 13. With this safe
conduct in his pocket, which was addressed to the check points of the liberated areas
in the Netherlands, Haalboom was free to return to Stadskanaal once the area there
was liberated. Until the end of May 1945, still more postcards and letters arrived
at Toon de Groots farm addressed to Ernst Haalboom but Ernst would never read them
as he had left. Life after the war in Lennisheuvel was picked up again and farmer
Toon de Groot, his wife Anna and their foster son Jan moved to hamlet Vrilkhoven
in Liempde in 1948, after Toon and his brother Willem de Groot exchanged farms because
the brother had a large family and the farm in Vrilkhoven had become too small. In
Boxtel and in Lennisheuvel nothing was ever heard again of Ernst Haalboom and it
had never become clear whether Haalboom ever reached his wife and child in Stadskanaal.
Ernst Haalboom did make it to Stadskanaal. He was reunited with his wife Sietske
and his young son Ernst. Sietske had moved in at her sisters place in the town Meeden,
just north of Stadskanaal, when Ernst had fled Stadskanaal in 1943. Here Sietske
had placed a picture of Ernst dressed in his army fatigues on a prominent place in
the house. As a single woman with a child she had had the hopes that it would prevent
difficult questions from any Germans that stayed at the hotel ore ate in the restaurant.
The picture of her husband had reached her in one way or the other. However, in the
autumn of 1945, during an investigation by the Dutch authorities on Haalbooms Wehrmacht
period, Ernst was imprisoned in an internment camp for Imperial Germans in Assen
named camp ‘Vlessing’. In that period the Netherlands Property Administration Institute
(Nederlandse Beheersinstituut or NBI) took seizure of all of his belongings. (Operation
Black Tulip) These possessions served as financial compensation to the war damage
suffered in the Netherlands. The NBI was founded in August of 1945 as part of the
Council for the Restoration of Rights (Raad voor het Rechtsherstel). At camp Vlessing
Haalboom was declared politically reliable in February of 1946 by F. Boersma, a former
district leader of the resistance movement and the local commander of the Dutch Domestic
armed forces (NBS). Shortly after Haalboom was released he could again return to
his wife and child in Stadskanaal. During that time Haalboom applied for Dutch citizenship
by naturalization in Winschoten, but because of financial difficulties he could not
proceed. He never received any official declaration by the NBI that proved he was
no enemy to the Netherlands anymore. He and his son Ernst officially kept considered
as former enemies of the Netherlands. Instead of the aforesaid declaration Haalboom
and his son did receive a residence permit for which they needed an official stamp
from the Dutch authorities again every year. To Haalbooms wish and desire to be neutralized
to Dutch citizen the Dutch authorities never responded. Ernst Haalboom passed away
on 15 October 1980.
Ernst Haalbooms handwritten report about his desertion and his subsequent hiding
and resistance work in Boxtel.
When during the spring of 1945 the liberation of the northern part of the Netherlands
was only a matter of weeks Ernst Haalboom had only one thought on his mind, to return
to his wife and child. From the British Security Service at Eindhoven eventually
a message was received which stated that Ernst Haalboom was to be provided the freedom
of movement in connection with his meritorious work for the Allied cause. Through
the Boxtel Municipality Police and the Political Police Recherche division Boxtel
Haalboom got a safe conduct to return to his hometown as soon as it was liberated.
This safe conduct was signed by the Acting Superintendent of Police, W.G.A. van Almkerk.
Ernst Haalboom also got a safe conduct from 1st Lieutenant H. van den Broek, head
of Staff of the N.B.S Guards Company for Boxtel and Esch. (N.B.S. Nederlandse Binnenlandse
Strijdkrachten, Dutch Domestic armed forces)Van den Broek stated in this document
that information to Haalbooms’ political reliability could be obtained through the
Boxtel Police Officer Th. Kemperman from Ons
The safe conduct from the Boxtel Municipality Police that Haalboom used to return
to his wife and child in Stadskanaal.
Ernst Haalboom had not been the only German Wehrmacht deserter in hiding in Boxtel.
After the liberation of Boxtel it became clear that Ernst Haalboom had not been the
only German Wehrmacht deserter that had found a hiding place in Boxtel. An in-law
of the Verhoeven family, a farmer’s family from the hamlet Tongeren at Boxtel, was
the imperial German named Jupp Gerecht. Jupp Gerecht, who had lived in Boxtel with
his Dutch wife until the beginning of the war, had reported himself for compulsory
military service in 1940. By the end of 1944 Gerecht was doing guard duties at the
bridges over the river Hollandsdiep near Moerdijk. While there he decided to desert
the Wehrmacht. One day he left his post and with a friend* he walked to his home
and wife in Boxtel. Once at Boxtel however Gerecht had to hide. For a number of days
he found a place to hide under an inverted box-cart on a piece of land of the Verhoeven
family, located at the edge of Kampina near stream Beerze. At a later date, when
he was able to contact the Boxtel underground via mister P.J Smits from Boxtel (head
of the Crisis Control Service) he found refuge in Kampina for a long period of time.
After the liberation of the area Jupp Gerecht was taken Prisoner of War by the British
forces at Boxtel. He was transported to Great Britain were he was imprisoned in a
POW camp and questioned on his military service. When it became eminent to the British
that he was not a Nazi he was released. Gerecht could return to his wife in Boxtel
where after the war in Europe he joined the Dutch railways.
* Ernst Haalboom?
Ernst Haalboom German service details
Diensteintrittsdatum/date in service:
It. Meldung vom /report on 23.03.43
-1248 - 1./E./.Pol. I.R. 1
6.Kompanie Landesschützen-Batailon Niederlande
Zugang/entry: von 1.Erzats-Kompanie SS-Polizei- Infanterie-Regiment
Standort/based at: Ede/Holland
8. Kompanie Sicherungs-Regiment 26
Unterstellung/subordination: Army command in the Netherlands
Also meat and other foods collected for the soldiers in and around Boxtel came to
these farms. All these collected foods were then picked up by the resistance people
themselves and brought to the American camp. The fewer people knew of the whereabouts
of the location of the American camp the better the resistance had agreed upon, so
only a few actually visited the camp. The bread was often transported in large reed
baskets while other foods were often hidden in milk churns or taken to the camp with
the use of a wheelbarrow. The foods collected in Boxtel reached the farms in many
different ways. In addition to the Boxtel resistance people also a number of Boxtel
citizens were involved in the collection and transportation of foods. Even Imperial
German Ernst Haalboom was involved in the food transports from Boxtel to Kampina
while he was in hiding in street Ons Doelstraat. Dressed in his German uniform he
walked ahead of the transport to make sure the coast was clear so no problems would
arise and to be able to intervene when they were checked.
Despite the courage of the farmers and citizens there were great dangers to once
involvement to these resistance activities. Would the Germans have discovered once
involvement reprisal measures would surely have followed. Fortunately it often went
well. Still, on a day in early October, something terrible took place in Kampina.
Not far from Lennisheuvel, on Oisterwijk territory in Kampina, lay the tiny hamlet
Balsvoort. Here, in the first week of October, a German raid took place which resulted
in the murder of two young Balsvoort farm boys, the Schut brothers. On suspicion
of being involved in resistance activities German troops raided Balsvoort and in
particular the farm of the Schut family. During this raid farm boy Bernard Schut
was shot dead when he tried to escape, his brother Hein Schut was murdered by the
Germans the next day. Hein Schut had first been transported to Oisterwijk were he
was interrogated and the following day, after he had dug his own grave in the Oisterwijk
woods, he was murdered by the Germans. After a search in the woods a month later
the body of Bernard Schut was finally found. His body was found in a shallow pit
covered with leaves. During the war also the Schut brothers had been active in the
help to people in hiding. During that time they had accommodated refugees on their
farm from the nearby village Oirschot and also the Oisterwijk Mayor Verwiel had found
a safe hiding place at Balsvoort. The brothers were also involved in the food supply
to the airborne men whose camp was located not more than a several hundred meters
from the hamlet. The Schut family had previously shown sympathy for the Oisterwijk
resistance group by agreeing to hide people on their farm who were wanted by the
Germans. The resistance group had recently captured a number of German soldiers in
the woods around Oisterwijk and, after disarming them, had imprisoned them on the
Balsvoort farm. The German soldiers were held captive on the large attic while one
armed resistance boy guarded them from the top of the stairs, the only way up the
attic. Not more than a little bit of daylight shone through a small window with bars
at the end of the attic.
In that period there was another, less serious incident, which luckily went just
fine. At one day resistance man Grard van der Meijden came down the road from hamlet
Roond on a motorcycle and approached De Groots’ farm. For reasons unknown he was
being pursued by a German vehicle. Once at the farm Grard noticed the Groots’ barn
doors were wide open. When he took the bend in the road opposite the barn he steered
to the right and drove right into the barn through the open doors. He then jumped
from his motorcycle and together with De Groot, who had witnessed Grard approaching
his farm, quickly closed the barn doors. The Germans had not noticed Van der Meijdens
actions and drove right past the farm and disappeared into the distance. Farmer Toon
de Groot was married to Anna van den Meulengraaf. The couple had no children and
the mother of Toon, ‘Grutje’, lived in with the two. Anna had a brother who lived
with his family in the town Best near Eindhoven. During the fighting around Best
their house had sustained tree direct hits during a bombardment which had left their
home destroyed. The family was left homeless and had to be accommodated somewhere
else. First they had found accommodations in the village Aarle and thereafter, around
23 October, in the village Haaren near Oisterwijk. There, on 28 October, the family
split up and a niece and nephew were brought to the De Groots’ farm in Lennisheuvel.
Toon and Anna had enough space and the two children knew the area and farm well as
they already had spent a holiday there. When the family could return again to Best
the nephew of Toon and Anna, the eight-year-old Jan van de Meulengraaf, stayed behind
in Lennisheuvel. The young boy enjoyed living on the farm and by that time he went
to a nearby school. They had furnished a small room for him in the attic and Jan
was treated as a son by Toon and Anna. On the farm the eight-year-old boy Jan van
de Meulengraaf would also regularly meet the German deserter Ernst Haalboom.
The German soldiers had nowhere to go. The presence of these German prisoners however
created great disorder on the farm amongst the refugees and soon a major disagreement
arose as to what to do with these prisoners. Executing them was extremely risky because
of the obvious retaliation that would occur should those in hiding and their helpers
would be arrested or taken prisoner. It was therefore decided to release the German
soldiers. They were first blindfolded and then led around Kampina for some time to
confuse them. Then they were released far away from Balsvoort. Unfortunately it didn’t
take them long to find their way back to their own troops in Oisterwijk and raise
the alarm. One way or the other the German soldiers must have been able to establish
where they had been held during their captivity because a few days later, at about
3pm, a large German force raided the hamlet of Balsvoort and the Schut farm.