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Nijkerk as a refuge during WWII

Looking for food in Nijkerk during the hunger winter of 1944

Time period: 1944-1945



Realisation project:

Stichting Oud Nijkerk


Timeframe: September 1944 – April 1945
Locatie: Nijkerk, Gelderland
Number of interviews: 10


Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog



A single interview can be seen via:


During the Second World War, the town of Nijkerk in Gelderland was a small, predominantly Christian community of about eleven thousand inhabitants. The residents outside the fortress lived mainly from agriculture. In September 1944, Nijkerk was confronted with a large stream of refugees from the Arnhem area, which had become virtually uninhabitable as a result of the Allied airborne operation Market Garden. Many civilians fled, whether forced by the Germans or not, to safer places. In the winter of 1944-1945 Nijkerk was also visited by thousands of people from the big cities who were on a hunger march. On the busiest days, sometimes around 20,000 people passed through Nijkerk.


As part of the oral history project, interviews were held with residents of Nijkerk who witnessed the large flow of refugees and people looking for food. On the basis of the interviews, it is investigated how the population of the small, close-knit community reacted to the arrival of large groups of people in need. Because the Christian churches played a major role in the social life of Nijkerk, their role is given special attention in the interviews. In addition, the interviewees discuss the events that took place on 1 October 1944 in nearby Putten. That day 
As retaliation for an attack by the resistance, a razzia took place there by order of the German occupying forces, during which almost the entire male labour force was transported to German concentration camps.