Anda's underground work...
Melisande Tatiana Marie (Anda) Kerkhoven would not have been Anda if she had not been one of the first to help the resistance. She did it largely on her own and started out with sacrificing one half of her own (small !) rations to assist people in need; she continued this even after she disposal over illegally obtained (or counterfeited) food tickets from large "underground" organizations like the famous L.O. which she joined reluctantly. (group "de Groot") Why reluctantly? Because she was very individualistic, and hated to be pushed in directions which were not quite her own.
Anyway she dealt with large amount of (false) food documents. She was very active and even a bit sloppy sometimes Her cousin Dirk (who was also in the underground) once prevented a disaster when she left a bunch of tickets on the table in the room, and her housekeeper - who was N.S.B. ( = a Dutch traitors group, like the Quislings in Norway) - came in unexpectedly! Dirk managed to hide the tickets inconspicuously...... This housekeeper, who fortunately was a bit retarded, owned a bicycle-shop on the groundfloor in the "Kijk-in-het-jat straat in the center of Groningen. Anda anyway moved to a new address (de Ranitzstraat 3a) in the apartments of the good family Karel & Else Hendriks. That's were her cousin Dirk saw her for the last time in August/September 1944.
Speaking about that large "underground" organisation L.O. which conducted all kinds of resistance (like sabotage, robbing official ticket distribution centres, attacking prisons in order to free hostages, spying on Nazi military and police movements, printing and distributing of counterfeit documents, ect.) against their Nazi usurpers, I think I cannot afford to omit, informing ignorant Americans, that such an organisation evidently is not a large Headquarter building with parking lots, conference halls, impressive files of papers with descriptions of the accomplishments of high-ranking officials in uniform, equitable promotion systems, office machines, daily- or weekly magazines with instructions and advertising, weapons and ammunition storage buildings, exercise fields, etcetera.
Please, forget it! An "underground" organisation is - on the contrary - an entirely invisible oral communication system of unviably high secrecy, taking place in inconspicuous ordinary houses, between unpaid persons, who in the most cases even do not know each other's names asks. And of course there exists noting in writing. Names, when they have to be used for instructions and reporting, are pseudonyms without any relation to that person's real name. Al these precautions - learned the hard way - for the evident purpose only that in case of discovery by the Nazis not one member will and/or can mention any essential fact or name even upon prolonged beastly cruel torture.
As a consequence of this there never exists any evident (written) proof of the brave efforts of underground heroes. We know only those facts that incidentally could be told afterwards by witnesses who were so fortunate to survive the ordeals. This now applies in particular to Anda's work, because she was so extremely individualistic and opposed to any hierarchical pressures.
Well then, survivors have witnessed that Anda supplied large amounts of (usually illegally obtained) documents, food-tickets, food, clothing, shoes and shelter to citizens in hiding, inclusive much domestic work ( though she hated that ) for officials and often all kinds of dispatch work ( first on bicycle, later on foot). All extremely risky tasks, punished by death without pardon upon discovery. As - with her parents blocked for any contact in Japanese occupied Java - she did not receive financial support for her living, she walked the streets in poor clothes on worn-out shoes, but always with a smile, and her bag around her neck.
The Dutch National Railroad has honoured her assistance of the striking employees during the general strike, ( which was requested by the Queen Wilhelmina), - it lasted from September 1944 until May 1945 - with a special 'Medal of Honour', posthumously of course.
Part of Anda's underground activities was providing help and shelter for allied aircraft pilots, hiding for the Nazis after being shot down over Holland and elsewhere. An extremely dirty counter-spy trick of the Nazis was employing pseudo-Allied pilots asking for shelter and medical assistance among the Dutch rural population. However this miserably coward ploy unfortunately sometimes worked rather effectively. Anyway, this trap has caused Anda's downfall. ( Probably by a German called Mans)
On the pitch-black and cold midwinter night on December 27, 1944 at 7:15 p.m. there was the dreadful " knock on the door" at Hendriks' house. Four(!) impudent heavily armed Nazi secret police (S.D.) officers enter. The house was ransacked, but Anda was not home. When Anda arrived - it was 8 p.m. - four rifled guns pointed at her. She was brutally frisked for arms - as if a conscientious objector of vivisection ever would carry a gun because these stupid gunmen really believed that " terror" could only be fought against with terror..
From distance they showed her a document, (perhaps a false identity card?). Anda seems to have recognized it instantly, for she made a jump like a cat to grasp it out of their hands. A vase fell in splinters, she ran to the toilet, locked her self in, and eat as fast as she could a peace of paper, witch she had with her, with some addresses on it. (Just before she arrived she had brought away a four-year-old Jewish girl to one address! ) She let the water ran in the toilet just before the Nazi's could open the door. Three men overpowered her, and told her to stay calme "Katjang". She was handcuffed, and her strong arms were twisted until she collapsed. Then they went to the prison; "Het Scholtenhuis", the Hendriks' couple included. Neighbours took care of the two Hendriks' children; Ger and Drude.
The next day, the first, (of many), interrogation was done in the presence of 13(!) persons. Lehnhoff, Kindel, Kaper, Schaap, Sleijffer, Hanna and Jenny (female guards), Moser, Karola Muller (typist), Vonk, Bouwman, Drost and van Bruggen. The other terrible female guard; Madeleine, was not there. She was the worst female guard with a cold hart of "stone". After this 'interrogation' , were she was beaten up by rubber sticks, the Nazis became not wiser at all. She asked for a warmer cell, because she was totally cold... Poor Anda did not yet know her hangmen: In her naivete and trust of people she even gave them a weapon against her in their bloody hands: The cold..... (Remember, she came from the tropics, and that she had 25% tropical blood!) So she was told "If you feel that cold, we shall put you in the coldest cell we possess". And so it was done, on bare feet.
( The Hendriks' couple was imprisoned simultaneously; Mrs.Hendriks was fortunately released after 5 1/2 weeks; her husband however was on March 16, 1945 put on transport to a concentration camp. When he left the prison that day he called Anda' s name. She answered with a scream!!! He survived, and returned home May 11, 1945. One day after the total liberation by the allied armies.)
Anda's most cruel torturers; Zacharias Sleiffer (Dutch!) & Jozeph Kindel (German)- Anda could be tortured, but she did not speak! She was put in solitary confinement alternately with and often without food. They beat her up with rubber sticks, ( by Vonk and Bouwman ), but she did not tell anything. J.Kindel chased his German shepherd dog up against her, who bit her in the head! Not a word from Anda. She was forced into very hot baths, for hours on a stretch, alternated with stone cold baths, locked up for one-and-half-day double folded in a small cupboard...... Anda endured! They even treated her in the baths with terrible electric shocks..... She did not talk! On the contrary, she defies her executioners: "I do not say anything, I will be beheaded anyway..." She got the reply: "Yes, your head goes off, but you shall speak"... When she returned from a torture she said to the others in her cell : "Please don't ask me anything"!!!
Once, an agonizing incident occurred, when she gave away one -false- name of a man of whom she - entirely correctly - surmised that he would have disappeared "underground". In fact this incident truly has not had any unpleasant consequence at all for the person in question, but it deepened Anda's agony with a feeling of self - reproach....
She even managed to fool her "interrogators" by giving them the impression that she was deeply involved with a certain large group of underground activists witch were terribly wanted by the Nazis. She was not involved with that group at all, but through her suggestive talking - to lie, even against enemies, was contrary to her principles - she convinced the secret police that they had got the head of that group. Consequently further searches for that group were cancelled! The gratitude of that group for her sacrifice can easily be imagined, for Anda most probably saved all their lives! It must be emphasized that above description is based on the very scare facts that have become known. Undoubtedly the reality must have been indescribably much worse! One of the true facts known which might emphasize this belief is the following:
It seems that Anda in her unbearable despair and agony, in order to prevent herself giving away details against her own will, had decided to commit suicide if she ever got the occasion to do so.... On a certain day she saw a possibility and jumped from behind her guard; Jenny Rijnsbergen, from the top gallery of the prison. To her own desperation and to everyone's surprise she landed unhurt on both strong legs! The unanimous opinion everyone who had (some) approach to her was that she was remarkably strong and unbroken in spirit during that whole ordeal of hers which - bear this in mind please - lasted almost three months! She tried to cheer up everybody, ignoring her own unendurable woes. Each spoke about her with love and admiration, inclusive a Dutch police detective (not N.S.B. for sure) named Jan Kerkhof, who could sometimes witness Anda's ordeal. Even Sleiffer had some respect and said once: "What a girl, she can handle more then many men!
InterludiumIt may, at this point of the story, be entirely unnecessary, but I wish to point out that Anda, since her arrest, never appeared before a judge, never got a defence lawyer, and so on and so forth. Her case, as so many others during the Nazi tyranny, was a perfect example of
Here an entirely innocent girl whose only "wrongdoing" was helping "onderduikers", who had never committed any act of violence (as she could not even stand animals being hurt), who sacrificed herself physically, mentally and financially for the sole purpose of helping others (who were, mind you, provoked by the enemy! ), without doing any damage even to her enemies, was intimidated, abused and physically as well as mentally tortured in a way to provoke a Saint, by a specially trained bunch of the worst criminals, expertly appointed for this purpose by the tyrant who murderously had managed to occupy her national country.
Help from outside
Anda' friends and hosts did not sit still. They tried with all possible and sometimes dangerous (under the circumstances!) means - very limited indeed - to get justice done to end the tragedy. Most promising for that purpose, and common practice in situations like this, was bribery. But, as the before mentioned detective Jan Kerkhof witnessed too, the scoundrels had already robbed and stolen so much that they had become indifferent for bribes. They did not accept any bribe, or they accepted them without any return....
The last few days...
Mrs. Rookmaker, a pouse of a medical physician, was lodged in Anda's cell, temporarily, until four days before the end. She witnessed that Anda was unbelievably high-spirited, and that Anda often tried to cheer her up when she desperate. Anda remained hopeful that her friends might be able to get her out, expectedly by bribes.
While Mr. Hendriks was put on a freight-train to a concentration camp, the very disreputable N.S.B. detective; Pieter Schaap, in order of the German "referatleiter" Robert W. Lehnhoff, and approved by the German "sturmbannfuhrer" B.G.Haase, pulled Anda out of her cell. It was only about one month before the allied armies would liberate the North of Holland (16-19 April) Just a few weeks ahead of that fateful day the retreating German army deliberately, and entirely unnecessary, burned down all the buildings in the 4000 acre Johannes - Kerkhoven - Polder farm. (situated in the east province of Groningen near Woldendorp).
March 19, 1945...
P.Schaap and v.d.Berg went, with the Dutch traitors; Harry Bouwman and Meindert Vonk, to a quite place south of Groningen, nearby Harenermolen / Glimmen; (Oosterbroekweg). With Anda also another member of the restistancegroup named: "De Groot" was taken; Dina Aikema. (Dina was "the woman behind" the leader of the restistancegroup!) On command of Schaap; Vonk shot Anda, and Bouwman shot Dini from behind in the back of the head. There they were buried together in one hole beside the path. A few days later Bouwman shot Gerrit J. Boekhoven, the leader of the resistancegroup, at the same place.
Born at : Saint Cloud (France) April 10, 1919.
Lived in: Java - tea plantation - Panoembangan.
Died: Killed, in order by germans, and shot by dutch nazi collaborators at : Harenermolen/Glimmen (oosterbroekweg) Provence-Groningen Netherlands March 19, 1945.
Story and pictures provided by her nephew Mr. Vincent Kerkhoven
Remember each and every sacrifice, made for your freedom!
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