WW2 victim identified after 77 years
77 years after World War II, a victim has been identified. It concerns Cornelis Pieter Kreukniet from The Hague. His remains were found after the war in a mass grave on the Waalsdorpervlakte. At the beginning of this year, the Salvage and Identification Service of the Royal Dutch Army (BIDKL ) succeeded in finding the family of this unknown dead person and in conducting a kinship investigation. That DNA match, in combination with the historical and laboratory research, provided indisputable proof that the remains belong to Kreukniet.
The investigation also reveals that he did not die of pneumonia, as the Nazis had stated, but that he was executed by firing squad.
The remains of Kees Kreukniet were excavated in March 1947 on the Waalsdorpervlakte from an anonymous grave containing nine bodies. At the time, identification was not possible. That is why he was buried as an 'unknown Dutchman' at the Rusthof general cemetery in Leusden. The remains were transferred to a final resting place on the National Field of Honor in Loenen in 2012.
Kees Kreukniet was born in 1894 in the Gelderse village of Stokkum, but lived in The Hague all his life. He was married but had no children. During the German occupation he joined the resistance. On October 8, 1944, he was arrested during a raid on the Municipal Works Department for printing and distributing the resistance newspaper Ons Morgenblad in The Hague. The paper for this newspaper was delivered to the wrong address, after which the occupier tracked down the printing company. He was held captive in the Oranjehotel, the nickname for the detention center in Scheveningen. Then he disappeared without a trace, until now.
During the excavation in 1947, clues were found that could possibly lead to the identity of the dead. This is how his dentures were found. Also on his shirt was a store brand of a clothing store, which was located near his house. These clues were important when the Hague Foundation WW2 Traces pointed the BIDKL to the missing Cornelis Kreukniet.
"Then many indications appeared to match," says Els Schiltmans, identification expert at BIDKL. "That's why we started looking for family, including through genealogical websites. We found his great-nephew Joop Kreukniet. He was willing to give his DNA." Schiltmans is happy with any dead person who can be identified. At least 24 bodies of the Waalsdorpervlakte, an execution site of the Nazis during the war, have remained unidentified. All of them buried on the Loenen Field of Honor. In that cemetery are about 125 other unknown dead from the rest of the Netherlands, which BIDKL is also investigating. "There are still thousands of unknown or missing victims throughout the Netherlands. We will never find them all," says Els Schiltmans.
Still, she hopes that more relatives of missing persons will come forward. "The techniques are getting better and better, especially DNA research helps enormously. We therefore hope that people who are still missing family from the war will report to us, so that we can see together whether we can solve more of these mysteries."