Author: Pieter Brands (2020)
From 1942 on, the home of Pieter and Aaltje Hakvoort was a transit house for Allied airmen and a hiding place for other people. In the carpentry shed under his house, carpenter Pieter and his sons had dug a hiding place for people in hide who stayed in their house. In case of danger, they could quickly go to the shed via a staircase in the house to hide in the underground hiding place. This was also the sleeping place for people in hide. From the outside, the shed was accessible through the doorway on the right of this sign. Nowadays this space is a freezer storage.
Max Pach was one of the Jewish people in hiding. He went into hiding with the Hakvoort family for about six months. Max came from a tailor family in Amsterdam. He was one of the few of his family who survived the war. Klaas Hakvoort, Pieter’s son, tells about an incident during Max’s hiding period:
“One morning, sometime in the summer of 1943, I had opened the shed, woke Jaap [= hiding name of Max] and went upstairs to the living room. Just now when Jaap crawled out of the hole, a fisherman entered the building. I forgot to close the outside door again. The man promised to keep it a secret. He did so and never talked about it. “
Pieter Hakvoort also wanted to help the only Jewish family living on Urk: Israel Samuel Kropveld and his wife Heintje and daughter Lea. The Kropveld family visited Pieter and Aaltje Hakvoort every Sunday afternoon. The increasing pressure of the German occupation was often the subject of discussion in that meetings. They are very nervous, but they don’t want to know about going into hiding. Pieter says to them: “Come in hide in our home. If you want, we can have you moved somewhere else!”. But Israel Samuel does not want to do that: “No Pieter, I don’t want to be a burden to others”, is his answer. In May 1942 the family is directed to Amsterdam by order of the occupiers. Eventually they die in Sobibor extermination camp, where they were gassed on April 9, 1943. Their names are on the Urk war memorial.
Allied Peter Miskinis from New York was also in hiding here. His plane was taken down in the Noordoostpolder, not far from Urk. After his crash he was first hidden in the reeds and brought to Pieter Brouwer in the evening for the first medical care. Then the resistance brought him to Pieter Hakvoort. Max, the Jewish person in hiding, acted as an interpreter for hidden crew members, since Pieter and Aaltje and their sons couldn’t speak English. Peter stayed here for a few days. He was then transferred to another address in the Netherlands until the liberation.
In the big green shed opposite to Pieter’s house, his brother Lub Hakvoort lived. He as also ship carpenter and had made an underground shelter in big green warf shed, covered with a thick sheet of wood. Once, three crew members of a plane that had crashed had just been hidden because the Germans were looking for them. The soldiers came into the shed and shouted “Wo sind die Engländer?” (= Where are the English men?) As they started searching the building. Lub had just started smoking fish and managed to distract them by offering the soldiers some delicious fish. They ate it, without knowing they were on top of the wanted, and left. The allied crew members were not discovered.
Pieter Hakvoort eventually paid a high price for his resistance work. At the end of May, anti-German slogans were painted on the streets of Urk at night. The son of Pieter was suspected, but fled in time. The Germans arrest Pieter and his daughter Lummetje, but also Andries Pasterkamp and his sister Marion. They are imprisoned in the Koepelgevangenis in Arnhem. The Sicherheitsdienst (German investigative police) in Arnhem intends to release them again, but receives information which accuses Pieter of helping people in hiding and that Andries Pasterkamp was also involved in the resistance. The result is that the Sicherheitsdienst leaves the girls free, but sends Pieter and Andries as political prisoners to Camp Amersfoort.
In July 1944, Pieter wrote home from this camp a letter to his family:
“I don’t belive we will soon be free, we receive no hearings either. The end of the war will have to bring us salvation (…) I make many friends here so we will have a visit after the war ”.
On the 11th of October Pieter is being transported to the German concentration camp Neuengamme, near Hamburg. He died on December 22, 1944 in outer camp Meppen – Versen of dysentery. A Dutch prisoner, who took care of the sick, wrote to Pieters Aaltje and the children in a letter after the war:
“He died in the Lord, because he was a good and pious man. He told me a lot about his children and his wife ”.
Pieter Hakvoort was posthumously awarded the Dutch resistance memorial cross after the war. He was reburied in 1953 in a grave of the war graves foundation at the ‘Kerkje aan de Zee’ (= The little church near the fishermens monument). The street in which his former house is located, was named after him after the war.
Andries Pasterkamp miraculously survived many sub-camps and harsh conditions, but did not live to see the liberation. Andries and Pieter always stayed close to each other. Three days after their arrival at Neuengamme concentration camp, their ways part forever. Prisoners were dragged from outer camp to outer camp under the motto “vernichtung durch arbeidt” (= destroying people by harsh labour]. As the Allied forces advance further in Germany, the German camp leaders transport all prisoners of Neuengamme on large ships in the ‘Bocht of Lubeck’ (= coast of Lubeck). These were mistakenly bombed by the Allies on May 3, 1944. Andries died on the ship “Cap Arcona”. Unfortunately, the body of Andries has never been found again.
A fellow prisoner, who met Andries in his last days, wrote in a book about him: “I think with sadness of the fisherman from the former island of Urk, who shared his last piece of bread with me.” In Neustadt in Holstein is a monument for all the 7,000 prisoners who died in this disaster.
Please contact Pieter Brands for more information or questions.
Email: brands pieter (at) gmail . com