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The inhabitants of Den Dungen during World War Two

Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum
Time period: 1939-1945
Number of interviews: ≥40
Accessibility: partially accessible in the archives
Transcripts: unknown
Period of interviews: 1987-1989

About forty residents of Den Dungen speak bout their experiences during World War II. Several people were interviewed, both resistance members and “ordinary” people.


In Den Dungen, more than 2,000 gliders flew over the village in September 1944. From September 17 to 26, 1944, the Allies wanted to create a bridgehead across the major rivers in the Netherlands with a major offensive (operation “Market Garden”). In a lightning-fast attack, airborne troops had to secure bridges. Ground troops then had to advance from Belgium across these bridges to the IJsselmeer. Three complete divisions were dropped: the 101st US Airborne Division at Eindhoven and Veghel, the 82nd US Airborne Division at Grave and Groesbeek and the 1st British Airborne Division at Arnhem and Oosterbeek. With the Americans, everything went fairly well. The bridges over the Maas and Maas-Waal Canal near Heumen and most of the bridges near Eindboven fell into their hands and after hard fighting also the Waal Bridge near Nijmegen. But the Rhine Bridge at Arnhem proved to be a bridge too far. The British paratroopers were surprised by German armored troops and had to retreat into the Betuwe under heavy losses.


During this massive operation, nearly 800 gliders landed on Brabant soil. In this province, the Den Dungen-Vught-Den Bosch triangle (codenamed ‘Ellis’) was a target for all towing and gliding aircraft. From here they flew to the landing sites.

Former hostages

Tekening van gijzelaarskamp St. Michielsgestel `Morning pest' - NIOD 185060
Time period: 1942 - 1945
Number of interviews: 20
Accessibility: Study room on request:

On the authority of Reichskommissar Seyss-Inquart, more than 450 Dutch nationals were taken hostage by the German occupation forces on 4 May 1942. Most of these hostages held prominent positions in the Dutch community. The Dutch Union as well as the trade union movement were strongly represented among the first group of hostages. All the detainees were housed in the Roman Catholic minor seminary Beekvliet in the North Brabant municipality of Sint-Michielsgestel.  A second action took place in July 1942. Then, on the orders of the Wehrmachtsbefehlshaber in the Netherlands, General Christiansen, nearly 800 hostages were arrested. They were housed in the major seminary at Haaren, also located in North Brabant. The hostages were to be punished for acts of sabotage. They stood surety with their lives. 
There were hostages in Haaren camp before that. They had been interned there in July and October 1940 in retaliation for Germans interned in the Dutch East Indies by the Dutch authorities at the outbreak of war. The group of these so-called Indian hostages consisted of people born in the East, and Dutch nationals who had their jobs there. All spent their leave in the Netherlands, but they were unable to return to their country of origin or field of work due to the outbreak of war. Having first moved from Haaren to Beekvliet in May 1942, they were transferred to the boys’ boarding school De Ruwenberg in Sint-Michielsgestel on 29 October 1942. 
To distinguish them from the Indonesian hostages, who were also referred to as reprisal hostages, the Dutch hostages were called preventive hostages. In addition to these internees, groups of hostages were also brought to Beekvliet who had previously been held hostage or arrested elsewhere, such as in the Schoorl, Amersfoort and Buchenwald camps.  Usually these were named after the camp of origin. 
Taking Dutch nationals hostage was also sometimes a reaction by the German occupying forces to local events and was then seen as retaliation. For example, during disturbances between colporteurs of the Dutch Union and members of the WA of the NSB in Heerlen, 30 residents of that place were taken hostage. Of these, 26 were Dutch Union members. 
On 12 August 1942, all permits and visiting arrangements on behalf of the hostages were revoked. Personal papers had to be handed in and 25 hostages were photographed with a no on their chest. The following 15 August, because of acts of sabotage in Rotterdam, five hostages were put to death on the De Rovert estate in Goirle. On 16 October 1942, three hostages were murdered by the Germans with 12 other Dutch people in the woods near Woudenberg. 
In November 1942 and January 1943, the hostages from Haaren were transferred to Beekvliet and the Harineezen were united with the Gestel people.  Some hostages who were discharged and allowed to go home were given reporting duties. They had to report to the local police or another authority daily or several times a week.  The turnover was very high. Hostages were regularly released and new ones replaced them. 
On 5 September 1944, the Beekvliet hostage camp ceased to exist. The remaining hostages were transported to the Vught concentration camp. During the transport to Vught, eight hostages managed to escape. The remaining hostages were released after several days. 


Audio interviews hostages

Saskia Janssens


  1. 558 interview with P. Bomgaars, d.d. 24-1-1992 
  2. 559 interview with T.M. Peet, part I, d.d. 4-2-1992 
  3. 560 interview with T.M. Peet, part II, d.d. 4-2-1992 
  4. 561 interview with prof. dr. A. Weijnen, part I, d.d. 24-2-1992 
  5. 562 interview with prof. dr. A. Weijnen, part II, d.d. 24-2-1992 en deel I interview met W. Wierda, d.d. 27-2-1992 
  6. 563 interview with W. Wierda, part II, d.d. 27-2-1992 
  7. 564 interview with P. Sanders, part I, d.d. 3-3-1992 
  8. 565 interview with P. Sanders, part II, d.d. 3-3-1992 
  9. 566 interview with M.F.F.A. De Neree tot Babbarich LLM, part I, d.d. 6-2-1992 
  10. 567 interview with M.F.A.A. De Neree tot Babberich LLM, part II, d.d. 6-2-1992 
  11. 568 interview with Everhard, part I, d.d. 7-2-1992 
  12. 569 interview with Everhard, part II, d.d. 7-2-1992 en deel I interview met mr. F.J. Kranenburg, d.d. 7-2-1992 
  13. 570 interview with F.J. Kranenburg LLM, part II, d.d. 7-2-1992 
  14. 571 interview with father H.H.J.M. Gall, part I, d.d. 18-2-1992 
  15. 572 interview with father H.H.J.M. Gall, part II, d.d. 18-2-1992 
  16. 573 interview with mr. Gosker, part I, d.d. 21-2-1992 
  17. 574 interview with mr. Gosker, part II, d.d. 21-2-1992 en deel I interview met dhr. Hartstra, d.d. 22-2-1992 
  18. 575 interview met mr. Hartstra, part II, d.d. 22-2-1992 
  19. 576 interview met mr. Hartstra, part III, d.d. 22-2-1992 
  20. 577 recording about hostage camp at AVRO, d.d. 13-8-1992
In het seminarie van Beekvliet zaten in de oorlog twaalfhonderd gijzelaars gevangen. © Fotopersbureau Het Zuiden/Collectie BHIC