The Last Train to the Concentration Camp
After almost five years of Nazi occupation in the Netherlands, Kees and Johanna were still active in hiding Jews and providing them with some of their needs. Even though Johanna was Jewish, she had never been faced with an arrest for deportation to a Concentration Camp. Her Jewish last name “Schmall” had been changed to Smal by a simple, rural civil servant when they married. The clerical error had saved her life.
In the final days and weeks of the war, many German soldiers and Officers had become weary of their “work”. They longed for the war to end, to go home to their families in Germany and Austria. Some of them defected, some went into hiding with friendly farmers in the country and some higher ranked officers were planning to disappear to the jungles of South America.
Others, however, were extremely fanatic and strived to catch the still remaining Jews who were in hiding, and punish the hiders by sending them also to a Concentration Camp.
Gestapo Oberhauptfuerer Wuerff was one of those fanatics. He went at any length to put a final feather on his cap and receive a special medal with a swastika on it. He knew about Kees’ position in the Resistance and about his activities of hiding, transporting and supplying false I.D’s to many Jews, hidden somewhere in the country. If he could catch Kees in the act Wuerf’s career would reach his ultimate satisfaction.
Through many intrigues, with the help of dozens of soldiers and lower officers, using treasonous N.S.B-ers he tried but failed many times to catch Kees in the mid’s of Jews and hiders. Two weeks before Holland was liberated, Wuerff finally caught Kees who with his colleague Frans were on their way warning the farmers at the hiding places of a pending round- up.
Wuerff caught 72 Jews, their hiders and Kees and Frans on one location. It was to be Wuerff’s final crown on his sinister career. Kees and Frans were put in the Jail in The Hague and the Jews were kept in a holding cell without food for five days. The two Resistance men were severely tortured for several days in order to extract addresses of other hiding places.
All the captured people were put on the last train to a Concentration Camp. The trip took four days and nights, without food, water or a toilet. The train ended up in Bergen Belsen which was the only one Camp that had not been liberated. However, the next day the British Army arrived.
Wuerff and his men were arrested together with the Camp leaders. They were kept as prisoners of war and most of them were tried at an International Tribunal.
The van Rijn family returned to The Hague on a very adventures trip and day later the war in Holland came to an end. They found their home completely ransacked and un-livable. It took them six months to restore their home.