Monday, May 21, 2012

Military Monday: A Hero and Member of the Dutch Resistance Movement

"Index cards with names of people from the opposition" from the Netherlands Archives 
I promised to write more about my Netherlands cousin who was a member of the Dutch Resistance Movement during WWII. Harm Molenkamp was the oldest child and only son of Jan Molenkamp and Frouke Olthof (Frouke’s mother was Jantje Timmer, my great-grandfather’s sister).  Harm had two sisters, Siep and Jantje.

As mentioned in my previous post about the subject, I first heard about cousin Harm from another cousin who lived in the Netherlands about twenty years ago but we lost track of each other. I didn’t get much information to begin with. I’ve always been curious to learn more and have been fascinated to have such a close tie to the historical events that took place during that time. I included the photocopy of the photo I have of Harm when I did a photo history presentation for one of my daughter’s classes a few years ago. For the presentation, I started with a tintype photograph from the 1860s of a girl who is likely a distant cousin who shares my birthday. I presented a historical photograph of a young man or woman for every decade from then until my baby photo from the 1960s. For each decade, I discussed a key event in history that took place then. Harm was my example from the 1940s. Maybe I should do a post of that project sometime. Heaven knows where that will take me. It was because of this blog that my newest-found cousin, Hans, contacted me and I was able to learn more about our mutual cousin Harm.

 Anyway, to get back to that subject, I told Hans about my curiosity about Harm and asked if he knew any more. Following is what he shared with me through email. (Which, by the way, is much easier than using international reply coupons, let me tell you.)

I've met both Jan and Frouke when I was a child, also their daughters Siep and Jantje and their families. I remember them as deeply religious people.”

“What I know of Harm is that Jan and Frouke had quite a few ‘onderduikers’ hidden on their farm during the war. First Jewish people, later resistance fighters also sought refuge. This is how Harm came in contact, being a target for the labour camps in Germany himself (as all young men were) also added to his choice. The Germans were already suspicious, and made several checks on the farm.  After a couple of searches Frouke was taken to the "Scholtens huis" in Groningen -  the headquarters of the SD, the German "Sicherheids Dienst" (Security Service) and severely beaten up as a warning during her stay in prison for several days. My grandmother took care of Frouke during the days after her capture (I still remember my grandmother telling that story, and how shocked she was even after so many years)

In 1944 Harm joined a group who mainly did raids on ‘coupon’ distribution centres. Since most of the food and goods were exported to Germany the Dutch people were given coupons for the bit the Germans left behind. As the story goes Harm and his group were betrayed by a local NSB man (the collaborators party).”

 “Harm used the codename ‘Anne’, was the leader of the group…Harm’s parental farm…was raided by the Germans.  He did escape, had to hide in the forest of Anloo…in an underground shelter with the rest of his group. He was captured on 30th September 1944, and shot two weeks later in Camp Westerbork.”

Harm is on the national ‘Erelijstvan gevallenen 1940 – 1945’, the ‘honorary list of the fallen’. Camp Westerbork was one of the two prison camps in Holland from where the transports to the concentration camps in Germany departed (the other one was Camp Vught). Every year, on the 4th of May, which is our national Remembrance day, there is a service held at Camp Westerbork, broadcasted on national television”

Hans also shared a link to more information on Harm from the online collection of theNetherlands Archives, which Hans described as “This site contains a massive collection of witness reports of resistance fighters, containing 8 pages of Harm. His parents are also mentioned. Both Jan and Frouke were imprisoned and interrogated several times in ‘German style’”. Hans also mentioned that the event of the German raid on Jan and Frouke’s farm is described in detail.

Here is a portion of detailed information on Harm from the Archives Collection:
Molenkamp, Harm
Eenum, E 8
BS 42, 352, 380, 382, 516, 803; G1 144, 146, 150, 154; G2 633; Hoe Groningen streed 43 ev, 237, 253
1921-01-29 te 't Zandt
Samen met Bruggema en Oosting gearresteerd in de boshut bij Anlo, 1944-09-29
Vanaf begin '43. Werkte ook samen met de groep Bedum. Naar de veenkoloni├źn gegaan, 1944-01-31, ondergedoken in Zuidlaren, 1944-06-10. Had ook veel landelijke contacten
Stolwijk, Cor; Broens, Jan; Cnossen, Piet; Omta, Albert; Pijper (verloofde), Alie; Til, Giene van; Wiersema; Niemeijer, Harry; Dijkema, Reint; Broekstra, Henk; Leugs; Douma, ds; Wiersma, ds; Borgdorff; Woltjer, K.; Haan, Henk; Hemmes, Edo
Molenkamp, Harm
Gefusilleerd te Westerbork, herbegraven op het Groninger Esserveld, 1945-11-02

TRANSLATION (using Google Translate):

Molenkamp, Harm

  Location: Eenum, E 8

BS Report: BS 42, 352, 380, 382, 516, 803, G1 144, 146, 150, 154, 633 G2; How Groningen fought 43 et seq, 237, 253

Born: 01/29/1921 in 't Zandt

Deceased: 10/12/1944

Occupation: Accountant

Ideology: Reformed

Event: Together with Bruggema Oosting and arrested in the mountain lodge at Anlo, 09/29/1944

Resistance: LO, KP

Resistance Activities: From the beginning of '43. Also worked with the group Bedum. In the peat gone, 01.31.1944, hiding in Zuidlaren, 10/06/1944. Had a lot of national contacts

Contacts: Stolwijk, Cor; Broens Jan; Cnossen, Piet; Omta, Albert; Pijper (fiance), Alie, Lift, Giene of; Wiersema, Niemeijer, Harry; Dijkema, Reint; Broekstra, Henk; Leugs; Douma, DS; Wiersma, dS; Borgdorff, Woltjer, K.; Haan, Henk; Hemmes, Edo

Shelter Names: Anne

Name: Molenkamp, Harm

Specifics: shot at Westerbork, reburied at the Groningen Field Esser, 11/02/1945

Location: Groninger Archives


  1. Hi Dawn - I did a Google search on my family members, who were also in the Dutch Resistance, and your site came up. Pieter Cnossen, listed under Contacts for your cousin Harm, is my great uncle. His younger brother, Bouwe Cnossen, was also part of the Resistance. Interesting connection!

  2. Wow, Emily, that is interesting! I am so glad for this blog to make connections like that even if it's been a while since I researched, it's still here for people to connect to. Are you in the U.S. or the Netherlands? Did you know about this work before?

    1. I'm in Michigan, USA. Pieter and Bouwe were my grandma's brothers. Her name was Froukje Cnossen. She and my grandpa (Marten Geertsma) immigrated to the U.S. after WW2 and had ten children. I did know about her brothers' work in the resistance and got to meet Bouwe in the Netherlands before he died, but never met Pieter.

  3. My Dutch families migrated to Michigan as well. I take it Pieter survived the war? If you want to discuss further, look on my Westfall families page for a contact email.

  4. Pieter did survive, and both he and Bouwe lived to be old men. My grandparents actually migrated to California, then Washington. There is a "pod" of family members now living in the Grand Rapids, MI area, including me :) Your research is interesting. Thanks for taking the time!