The Rijper Family

Sjouke Rijper

Dutch version of the story.

Pastor Sjouke Rijper was a teacher in the early days of his life. He taught at the Funen School in Amsterdam in 1905. When he was 23 he got tuberculosis and was in a hospital for 7 months. When he got out, he had just one lung to live with. He was able to go back and teach and although he was told to rest after school and not to study anymore. But he did study because he wanted to become a pastor.

In Amsterdam he met his future wife Anna Ros when he was 25 years old. On Thursday 31 March, 1910, Sjouke Rijper and Anna Ros got married in the Keizersgracht Church in Amsterdam and in the years after, they had 15 children.

The family traveled to Argentina on October 15, 1912, where Sjouke Rijper became the head of a school. They already had two children, Aafje and Piet and Anna was pregnant with the third child. But due to illness of Sjouke they had to return to Holland and moved to Amersfoort. When he got better, he wanted to preach in the church, but that didn’t work at first because his papers were from Argentina ,so he had to do some new tests to be allowed to preach in Holland.

War Years

Sjoukes youngest kid, Henk Rijper remembers the first moment he saw German soldiers. I called: “Look dad! Germans!” But that enthusiasm isn’t shared by his dad. He got a smack on his head and had to walk on silently. In the war the family has a rough time. There isn’t enough money. Everybody is low in weight. Sjouke writes to a friend about his family. Two sons who didn’t live at home any more are teachers and both are married. Daughter Suze has a good art shop with her husband Gert Veenendaal. Annie is happily married to a police officer in Ijmuiden named Bert Schoemaker. Kees marries Lenie de Graff and is Pastor. At home there were still 8 kids. Jo is a teacher in Amersfoort. Klaas works at a company named Schuitema. Mien is a saleswoman in a big shop (Ramselaar). Trijntje helps in housework. Frans works as a geometrician at the land registry. Johan is in his last year of school and wants to become a teacher. Theo is in the third year of the gymnasium. Henk goes to the bakery school so writes the Pastor. The kids living at home pay money for costs..

Life and death are close during that period. In the first war years there are children born, but also deaths. Anna Rijper loses her mother on April 30 1940. The year after on January 15 1941, Sjouke’s mother Aafje dies at a age of 85. There is no end to that. Sjouke’s oldest kid, nurse Aafje, gets the task to escort a family she took care of to a hiding address to prevent them to be sent to Germany for work. On the Utrecht central station they transfer. The boy bumps into a German officer and is called upon. Aafje jumps in between, pushes the boy forward and addresses the German officer about his behaviour. It was just an accident. But then the 31 year old nurse gets it. What exactly happened isn’t clear. But it’s for sure Aafje literaly was scared to death. She had heart failure on the platform. Kees Rijper and his wife Lenie get a thank you notice from her a few days later, posted on the day she died.

The Rijper house at Johannes Bosboomstraat 15 is known to be a Orange Nest (Royal Family minded). The family is into acts of resistance and they hide someone in their home. Piet became during his military career Sergeant and he mobilized at the beginning of the war. Officers were ordered to surrender and turn themselves in, but he didn’t. He hides in Willemstad and Heerlen and later joins the resistance. In 1944 he is regularly in London. Piet helped the allies to liberate Holland in the spring of 1945. Frans, Klaas, Suze and Jo are in the illegal business.

Frans becomes a member at the Resistance Counsel as group commander at group Max (of Max J. Kreupeling and Rudolf Koopmans) and he is engaged in multiple acts of resistance, like sabotage on railways and robberies at distribution offices. Frans also gets brother Klaas and Henk van Dijk, who is hiding at their house, into the resistance work. The family is also active in finding addresses for hiders. On Hof 7, at the art gallery of Suze and Gert Veenendaal, hiders find a place often. Did you need a runner? You could find one at the Rijpers. Jo did that very often.

In September 1944 the Germans got really nervous since the Allied forces were knocking on the door. But operation Market Garden was a failure and a big part of the Netherlands stayed occupied. On September 20, 1944 the English dropped fuel cans over Amersfoort. One lands on the house of Max Kreupeling, the leader of the group Klaas and Frans were a part of. The can exploded and the Kreupelings wife and a hider died. Fearing the Germans would find hidden weapons they stole from a German truck, the weapons were divided by the members. Frans was also asked and after asking his mother who agreed, he took some home. His father didn’t know.

It’s a very nervous time. Gert Veenendaal, who is wanted by the Germans is involved deep. Every now and then he shows up in public but the resistance pressures him to stop with that since he had a lot of information and if he would talk after being interrogated everybody would be in danger. So he was ordered to stay home and if he didn’t, the resistance would shoot him. Gert never showed up and was never caught.

On September 29th 1944, the resistance kills the National Socialist Movement (NSB) member and lawyer Mr. Johannes Frima. Four days after the assault two members of the resistance are shot as reprisal. Frima’s sons, who are fanatic members of the NSB swore revenge at the Resistance group in Amersfoort. “We will continue the battle.” they write in the obituary.

It’s a misunderstanding that Sjouke held so-called resistance preaches. He did encourage the brothers and sisters by spreading the gospel. On Sunday October 8th, two days after a big raid in Amersfoort he did preach in the Church at the Zuidsingel in Amersfoort. In that time period you could see that as a act of resistance.

It will be his last preach. He ends with the words: “With You we seek shelter when everything is lost, yes even when the bullet hits us.” That bullet is closer than he could know.

More than a month later, in the evening of Thursday November 16th 1944 everything goes wrong. From declarations of Land guards who testified after the war and by witness reports of Anna, Jo and Johan Rijper, it is possible to make a pretty good reconstruction about what happened that night.

In the evening of November 16th 1944, at 7pm, a local police officer from Amersfoort, Diederik Lutke Schipholt (who later was killed by the resistance) and detective Willem Dissevelt were on duty in civilian clothing. They are accompanied by Land guards (sort of citizen police squad who helped the Germans) Piet Frima, Gijsbert van Spankeren, Willen Vergouwe and Piet van der Zon.The Land guards declare after the war that Lutke Schipholt got a tip that the family had a illegal radio. But looking at the size of the operation, the police had to know more than that. The men gathered at the house of Van Spankeren who lived close to the Rijper family. They walk to the address that is easy to recognize by the white flagpole in the front garden. Van Spankeren went to the back yard to catch anyone who might try to escape.
At that moment the family was listening to the English radio. Around 8:10 pm the doorbell was rang softly and because of that the family thought it was Rudolf Koopmans, a member of the resistance group Max. Frans Rijper opened the door and saw the men in civilian clothing, so he thought they were send by Rudolf Koopmans. Without saying a word he took the men into the front room where nobody was at that moment. Lutke Schipholt plays the game along and asked Frans if it isn’t dangerous to let men in the house like that. Frans responded to that: “If you are bad, you would be dead bodies by now”.
Frima later stated that he thought he was set up at that moment. “When I heard that, I wished I was out of there and alive, all the more so since I heard voices coming from the back room, which must had been full of people.” Sjouke, Anna and the kids are in the back room, I assume Frans is talking to the resistance. Frans told the men the family was listening to the English radio in the back room. According to Frima, Lutke Schipholt ended that “friendly” conversation by pulling his gun and telling Frans to put his hands up. Frima searches Frans but, to his surprise, finds out Frans wasn’t wearing a gun. Piet van der Zon then opened the sliding door and shouted “Hands up!”. The guns were pointed at the family members. According to Van der Zon the family is dazed. Sjouke, Anna and the kids are amazed and almost a bit giggly. By the second order, they know it’s serious. Frans is pushed into the back room where his hands are tied with a rope.

Klaas immediately recognizes Piet Frima. He went to school with him and even was friends with him. Because it’s known the Rijper family has a radio and accommodated Henk van Dijk who was hiding at the house, Van Spankeren called at the nearby house that was owned by a Land guard the Feldgendarmerie (German military police). The others started to search the house. In the meanwhile Frans was cursed at. According to Frima, Schipholt told him that Frans was the killer of his father, the high ranking NSB member Joannes Frima. “We will get you! If you don’t tell the truth, we will bring you to the Schothorst!” (Schothorst was the farm where his father was shot. But Frans didn’t have anything to do with that). Frima now gives his gun to Vergouwe who is now pointing two guns at the family. While the family is with their hands in their necks, Frima pulls the bible from the bookshelf and throws it on the ground. Sjouke asked him to handle it with a bit more care because it is important to him. Frima responded with laughter. “If you were Christians, you should have been on the eastern front by now!” About 45 minutes after the raid, around 9pm, the military police arrived and take Frans, Klaas and Henk van Dijk with them to the District Commander (Ortskommandantur) for interrogation to the Regentesselaan in Amersfoort.

Stabsfeldwebel (Sergeant) Jonas interrogates them. Ook Land guard Lutke Schipholt is present. He hits one of the guys in the face during the interrogation. The following hours the house is searched more. All this time the ill Sjouke, who his infirm and who has a inguinal hernia is there with his hands in his neck. In a hiding place in the wardrobe of Sjouke, a helmet, a bayonet, a hand grenade and two military belts are found. They also find maps from the rail network which, according to the officers, was used for attacks on the rails. They also found illegal flyers. After three hours the family was taken from their home to the police station.

In the cold, dark November night, Sjouke and Anna with their 6 still at home living children accompanied by 3 officers walked to the police station on the Utrechtsestraat 53 in Amersfoort.

On the basis of Klaas’ notebook the officers go to several addresses for raids, but nobody is connected to illegal business through the Rijper family so the raids are a failure.

At about 4am in the night Frima enters the police station with a lantern in one hand, a gun in the other. The family is placed in a open truck and brought to Concentration Camp Amersfoort. On that truck, in the freezing cold, the family is reunited with Frans, Klaas and Henk van Dijk who all are handcuffed. Klaas wasn’t able to get himself a coat before he was taken and had just one shoe. One of the daughters gave him a shawl. Anna speaks with them for a short while. The boys tell her that Frima thinks they shot his father. They are scared to death, just as the other family members. In Camp Amersfoort they are divided by gender and put into a bunker cell.

The day after the raid, on Friday November 17th, by sunset at around 5pm, Piet Frima and Piet van der Zon go back to the Rijper house to, according to their statement, pick up the radio. They decide to search the Bosboomstraat 15 again. Under the beds of Jo and Mien they found guns; The daughters never knew.

Frima later stated: “We had the opportunity to get rid of the guns, but we didn’t. We gave them to the Germans and knew by doing that, it would be the death sentence for the two oldest sons.” After they found the weapons Frima got scared they would be attacked by the resistance so he called in another officer to guard the door with his gun drawn. They searched but didn’t find anything more. On Saturday November 18th, the family is interrogated with Klaas, Frans and Henk van Dijk with their hands in their neck in one corner, the other family members in the other corner. Then they had to deal with the sadistic Joseph Kotälla. He is a 38 year old Polish man from Chorzów. He is the replacing commander of camp commander Karl Peter Berg. Before the war Kotälla was pronounced insane. As a kid he was psychotic and he was treated by a Jewish nerve doctor. Nevertheless, or maybe because of that, he was accepted for the SS. In 1941 he was placed against his will in the prison in Scheveningen. His psychotic problems came to the surface again. From January until April in 1942 he was treated in a German Luftwaffe hospital against his will. In September 1942 he was transferred to Camp Amersfoort. In December he had a break down again. He was temporary paralyzed on the left side of his face. In the Wilhelmina Hospital in Amsterdam he even is locked up in isolation. According to his doctors he is a danger to himself and to others. Despite the Germans having their doubts, he was allowed back to work at the camp in Amersfoort. In the camp he drinks a lot of alcohol, coffee and took pills. Intoxicated by this, he tortured prisoners in horrific ways with the use of a gummi-stick, bamboo and the infamous “Kotälla-kick” (kick in the cross).

Kotälla asks the Rijpers where they got the weapons. Nobody had any idea. He shouted: “Are you children of a pastor? The churches must be great in Holland when all children of pastors lie!!” When Kotälla and the guards left the room Frans whispers that he told them he was the one who is responsible. He hoped to spare Klaas and Henk van Dijk this way. Henk van Dijk told the family that the Germans told him they would shout them. The Rijpers told him he shouldn’t believe that and they encouraged them to stay brave.

Who told the Germans about the radio and/or weapons in the house of pastor Rijper? Many have speculated about that until this day. Did the boys become incautious? Was there leak in the resistance organization? Was there a infiltrator? The truth never came out. The most likely story is that the Germans knew the Rijpers were “Orange-minded” (Royal Family minded) and they were linked though daughter Suze to Gert Veenendaal who was wanted by the Germans and was hiding.

Europe is half liberated by then. It is clear the Germans will lose the war. The Germans don’t care that much about the criminal proceedings anymore, for what they were worth. In June 1944 the Germans got the order that everybody who had guns, ammunition or explosives could be shot without a trail. SS General Karl Eberhard Schöngarth, the commander of the SIPO head office in The Hague then, send a message that “allowed” the occupiers to shoot arrested prisoners without trial. Klaas, Frans and Henk van Dijk were also candidates. Sjouke, Anna, Johan, Jo, Mien and Trijntje are held during the investigation for their involvement. Sjouke stays with the two youngest boys in one cell. Because there is just one mattress, the boys take turns on the bed with Sjouke, and on the cold floor. Maybe to set an example, Kotälla lets them watch the mistreatment of other prisoners. Of one prisoner he took the glasses and crushed them on the floor. He told him he didn’t need them anymore. Henk says: “I still can hear the guard say that. Now I know what happened to that prisoner. But back then I didn’t realize it. It is in my mind now more than ever.”

Henk Rijper also remembers a conversation between his father and a camp doctor. “Now we really are in hell.” says the doctor. Sjouke answers: “It may seem like that, but believe me, God is here also.” Henk listens to it with amazement. “Then I thought, if that is true, then that is the God I want to serve.” This is the foundation for his faith in the rest of his life.

On Saturday November 18th 1944, a few hours after the family interrogation, Klaas Rijper, Frans Rijper, Henk van Dijk and a man named Van Breukelen are taken from their cell by Kotälla. The boys are pretended to be put on a transport to Utrecht and then to Germany. The Germans even filled out the paperwork. But there is no transport, only a walk on the half finished shooting range. Kotälla puts on a white doctors coat to protect his uniform from blood spatter. The four boys are unarmed and not blindfolded standing in front of SS men Oberle, Brahm, Reuswich, Herzog, Neuman, Feuerstein and their commander Kotälla. In this hopeless situation one of the boys plays his last act of resistance. It could have been Frans, since he was well spoken. He said: “You are quite a man, shooting us. I’m sure you get the Iron Cross for that!” And that impressed Kotälla. He tells about it in June 1945 in a interrogation. SS Sergeant Karl Weinand Feuerstein confirmed this last act of resistance in his interrogation. “Kotälla stood next to us and commanded to shoot every man, to him shoot the appointed boy. Three of them went down immediately, the fourth apparently wasn’t dead immediately, so Kotälla shot two or three of them again.

Until the end of the war the family doesn’t know about the killings. They think the boys are in a concentration camp Neuengamme near Hamburg or in the prison in Utrecht. The camp in Amersfoort was a transit camp and the camp administration gave the family false hope.

Two days after the execution, on Monday November 20th, Dutch officers held a raid in the house of Gert Veenendaal, the husband of Sjouke’s daughter Suze. The so-called deserted German R. H. Bel (aka R. de Lange) is in hiding next to the Veenendaal family on Hof 6 in Amersfoort. He is a V-Mann (Trust-man) who infiltrated in the resistance. Bel tells the officers that his neighbor is in his house right then. The officers go to the house but Gert Veenendaal (aka Mr. Jansen) isn’t found, but in the hiding place on his address on Hof 7 they did find 5 people who were in hiding. Three of them didn't survive and die in a German concentration camp.

Pastor Rijper doesn’t know anything about the execution of his sons and is still in prison with Johan, Theo and Henk. The following Tuesday, at 10pm, someone banged on the door. Three police officer came to pick up Theo and Henk. Probably because they were too young for the camp. Sjouke doesn’t know where they are taken. The boys are brought to the police station and stayed there for a week in a cell. Theo is scared and emotional. Henk tries to support him: “Come on. You are giving them what they want.” During the day the boys have to pick up food for the prisoners from the kitchen. When the guard doesn’t pay attention, other prisoners try to talk them into escaping, but the boys decide to stick together and stay because they have nowhere to go.

Sjouke is still in prison with Johan. Sometimes he writes home. Family and friends sent him cigarettes and some food. Anna writes about his temper at that moment: “He is totally aware that he didn’t do anything a patriot shouldn’t do.”

A few days after their arrest the women are allowed outside. When they are outside, they see a German on a bike with a bag of Klaas on his shoulder and their clock on his carrier. Their house is robbed! On Saturday November 26th, Sjouke doesn’t feel that well. Anna asks if doctor Boerma will check up on him and the doctor does. The day after Sjouke and Anna see each other again, he tells her he is afraid for the interrogation scheduled for the next day in Utrecht. He is afraid he won’t be able to hear the questions properly because of his deafness or maybe to give a wrong answer. He is afraid he might be tortured. But he finds strength in his faith in God. Like he knows about his fate he says: “Whatever happens to me doesn’t matter. I did whatever I could to take care of you and the kids, and the Lord will take care of you from now on. I am much sooner at my Savior.”

Tuesday morning on November 28th, 1944, Sjouke meets his wife Anna for the last time in the bunker. Apparently the interrogation didn’t take place. He is allowed to go home since he is sick. They said goodbye. The announcement of a release was used by Kotälla to keep the prisoners in the dark. This also happened to eight men who blew up a signal box. They all are waiting in a room because there is apparently no transport. It is starting to get dark. Sjouke is softly singing psalms. Then the eight men are called: Philips Haye, Philip Bergwerf, Eduard Reinke, Ubel Bulthuis, Cornelis Haye, Andries de Vries, Jan Bronsdijk, Hendrik Kolkman. Kotälla, who is known for his dislike of pastors looks at Sjouke and says: “Take that old man also. He is crazy anyway.”

Wearing a black coat, grey gloves a grey shawl and a black Garibaldi felt hat, Sjouke Rijper walks on the Appélweg. They are going the wrong way! He realized they weren’t going home. They walk in the direction of a farm, just outside of the camp. It is a walk from almost 600 meters and Sjouke has trouble keeping up with the rest of the group. He is leaning heavily on the silver handle of his walking stick. The spot they are going to is a little field behind the farm. Here Kotälla takes the rings and watches from the men. The first four men were shot one by one. The Pastor had to wait with the others, standing in front of a open mass grave. Standing there and knowing what will happen he asks if he is allowed to read something from his bible, but he doesn’t get permission. Kotälla takes the bible and throws it in the hole. He also brakes Sjouke’s stick and throws it in the hole also. Kotälla steps aside and at 5.30 in the afternoon he gives his second order: “Get ready! Aim! Fire!” The word spreads fast about the murder of Pastor Rijper. Anna assumes something terrible happened. But nobody dares to speak with her. On Wednesday Anna is called in by doctor Boerma and he tells her that he knows for 99% certain her husband is killed. That afternoon came the confirmation. Anna is still with Jo, Mien, Trijnie and Johan in prison. “They couldn’t let the guards know they knew. The Germans wanted to keep the execution a secret. We had to be brave, otherwise they would try to find out who had talked. We couldn't go anywhere with our grief.”

The youngest boys, Theo and Henk are brought to a German friendly bakers family. But these people aren’t German friendly and they are even going to the same church as the Rijper family is. This baker delivers bread to the Germans, but didn’t turn his back on his fatherland. The boys still don’t know about the fate of their father and they have to help in the bakery. Their clothes were dirty and on a cold day the boys go to warehouse Ramselaar where their sister Mien worked before she was arrested. Theo and Henk ask for clean clothes but are sent away, but they try again and again and finally they got some long socks. The boys want to go home and pick up some clothes but the NSB family Doorten now lived there. This family not only moved in, but is also selling the furniture. Theo and Henk decide to go for it and break in broad daylight in their own house. A dangerous undertaking. There is snow. Friends are on the lookout. They pretend to work on clearing the streets. The idea is that when there is trouble they stick the shovel up in the air. Many valuable things are already stolen. With the use of the bakery cart the boys secure the remaining family items, including potatoes which Sjouke earned with his preaches.

The family hopes Anna and the kids are released around Christmas, but that didn’t happen. They spent their days singing because singing relaxes. The days after there are also Christmas song filling the air. This gives hope to the Rijpers, but also to their fellow prisoners, of which some are in the dark isolation cells. They feel like angels have come down in the camp. One prisoner who didn’t survive the camp even writes about it in his last letter home. One day, when the ladies came back from their walk outside they have a short meeting with a prisoner who is in death row. He is thirsty and hungry. Jo and Mien slide thin pieces of sausage under the door on a paper. They make a drain from paper and pour drinking water through the peeking hole. But this isn’t without any risk of course. Mien remembers: “I almost start shaking again when I think about it”. She also remembers how she brought some Christmas bread around. A hollow iron pole from the bed is pushed between the heating pipe and wall. They push the bread through the tube to the other side. “Sorry it is tough.” They say. Humour helps surviving.

Not until January 23 1945, when they were locked up for 68 days, Anna and her daughters Trijnie, Mien and Jo are released. They move temporary into the home of son Piet Rijper on the Vincent van Goghstraat 3, which is close to their original home. Johan remain in prison. Jo immediately starts working for the resistance again. At the Land guards office a anonymous letter is delivered. The letter told them about a woman who would deliver a letter to a man. Jo says: I was that night at my brother in law’s (Gert Veenendaal) house who asked me to meet some hiders to investigate some complains they have about payments.” Jo has a letter in code in her purse. The code is made up by herself. For example: Piano 3 is a woman who plays great piano and lives on number three. On the corner of Bekensteinselaan and Aldegondestraat the Land guards Schipholt, Frima and two others are waiting for her. They take her in for interrogation. Land guard Alexander Loffeld pretends to be a British Secret Service officer to try and get the code from her, but without success.

Jo is brought to Camp Amersfoort. On the way Land guard Frimaaskss about her brothers although he of course knew about their fate. Jo answers that they are probably in Utrecht. After a tough interrogation by Kotälla, Jo Rijper is brought to the prison in Utrecht in cell 160 of the women section. Jo shares her cell with Joyo Bouvy who was publisher of anti-German literature. She never gave up the addresses of the hiders.

Johan is still in Block IV of the camp. He knows he is the only Rijper here and joked in a letter that the bunker became silent when the 4 ladies were gone. In the spring of 1945 many people were shot as revenge for acts of resistance like the failed attempt to kill High ranking SS officer Hanns Albin Rauter. Johan is put on transport several times but every time doctor Boerma gets him out and says he is too sick for transportation. Boerma thought no Rijper should die in this camp anymore. Johan is staying in the part where people are suffering diseases like typhus. It happened many times that he woke up and saw men had died around him. On June 11 he would become 18 years old and he would be old enough for reprisal execution. But luckily it didn’t come that far. The allies were gaining more land and the Germans figured they better leave after a Canadian offensive near Amersfoort. They did that on April 20th, a day after they transferred the camp to the Red Cross. Johan is released two days before. Very thin and with a shaved head he walks home. The welcome is warm. Jo is released on April 29th. She walks, weak as she is, from Utrecht to Amersfoort. When she enters the garden she breaks when she is welcomed by a happily surprised family. Everybody is happy with the returning of Johan and Jo, but in grief because of the loss Sjouke and in big worries about the fate of the other 2 boys and Henk van Dijk.

Two months after the liberation the body of Pastor Rijper is found in grave II, in a field behind the farm just outside of the camp. Apparently he is killed by a shot in the neck. On June 28 1945 Anna sends out the official obituary. “We know he is with Jesus, whose Name he preached with passion” stands on top of the obituary. Behind the names of Klaas and Frans stands a question mark. As long as there are no bodies, there is hope. Are they alive, in Germany? But four days later the bodies of Klaas, Frans and Henk van Dijk are also found. For Anna there is a heavy task. She has to identify Joseph Kotälla and he her. She stands eye to eye with him, the murderer of her husband and her two sons. “Do you know this woman?” is the question to him. He answers negative. Anna responded: “So, you don’t know me any more?” Kotälla: “Ah, are you the widow of the Pastor? You look much better now!”
After that she identifies, together with her daughter Jo, her husband, two sons and Henk van Dijk on the basis of clothing which were mostly marked with initials and also the walking stick of Sjouke. At the identification they got the pocket bible of him. They also recognize the scarf Klaas got from his sister and they see the blue sports jacket and dark grey striped pants of Frans. Jo had said to him that it was too short but Frans said that he would wear this pants. It was waiting for the liberation.

Henk Rijper inherited the silver handle of Sjouke’s walking stick. He donated it to the Foundation National Monument Camp Amersfoort where it is permanently shown in a showcase. After the liberation the family returned to their empty home at the Johan Bosboomstraat in Amersfoort.

On Wednesday August 22nd 1945 the Pastor, his two sons and the house guest Henk van Dijk are reburied on the cemetery Rusthof in Amersfoort. Four coffins stood in front of the hall, on those of the boys the Dutch flag and a wreath. The newspaper writes: A last salvo is fired by the honour guard of the Homeland Armed Forces over the open graves at the cemetery, which was the farewell of the comrades who preceded in the past battle.”

On February 8th 1946, Queen Wilhelmina writes her signature under a declaration of sympathy for the loss of Sjouke Rijper. In June another one is delivered, but now with the names of Klaas and Frans.

Joseph Kotälla stands in court for 77 murders and torturing of prisoners. His brother Paul asks for forgiveness. His father and two brother got killed in the war. His mother, Agnes Kotälla tries the same. Joseph wasn’t a member of the NSDAP party. She writes: “We have raised our children as good Christians and always told them to handle with Christian beliefs.” On December 14 1948 Joseph Kotälla got the death penalty which was changed into life in prison three years later by Queen Juliana. The former Minister of Justice Dries van Agt, planned on releasing Kotälla and two others (Fischer and Aus den Fünten) in Breda in 1972. Very strong resistance from the society, mostly from War victim unions prevent this. Anna Rijper is in favor of release. She says: “Just release them. God will judge on them.” Kotälla died in 1979 in the prison in Breda.

During the trail of Camp commander Karl Peter Berg, the partisan and detective Geriit Kleinveld says that he assumes Pastor Rijper is incidentally taken by Kotälla. Berg declares that it was a order to take him. “There was no order”, the attorney reacts. “It doesn’t really matter” a deep a aggravated criminal law expert says. “It was a crime to eternity!” Berg is given the death penalty. On November 22, 1949 he is the one who stands in front of the firing squad. Before a commander can give the command, Berg shouts “Fire!”, and the squad reacts immediately. His last command was his own death.

Rijper On September 1947 the Land guard couple who earned 3000 guilder with the sell of the furniture of the Rijpers is on trial. A year later, Anna, Jo and Johan testify against the group of Land guards who were at the raid in their house. Piet Frima got 13 years in prison, minus the time he already spent in jail.

Five years after the war a temporary monument is revealed at Camp Amersfoort. Jo Rijper revealed that monument.

Three years later Prime Minister Willem Drees revealed the monument which is there today. It’s called the Man of Stone.

The after-war church society criticizes the family for their resistance acts. The speculations is a heavy pressure on the family. Acts of resistance isn’t self-evident. Illegal is illegal they say. A church member visits the family. Of course the executions came up in the conversation. The Church member said: “Well, like Mattheüs 26:52 says, he who handles the sword, dies by the sword”. Daughter Mien wanted to do something to him, but she managed to stay calm. A letter brought some relief to the family: “Although thousands of voices whisper about the mistakes that are made, although slander tries to get to them, those who don’t see the light any more, those who don’t break the bread any more, for us they are, the Rijpers and the others, the shining example in a darkness filled world.”

There is also support from the Foundation 1940-1945. The foundation makes sure there is some extra money for the youngest children to study. On September 28, 1976 the city of Amersfoort decides to name the streets in a newly built neighbourhood after local resistance heroes. So there came a Ds. Rijperstraat (Pastor Rijper Street).

Sjouke just became 60 years old. In those 60 years he did a lot of work, and all that with bad health. He leaves a big family. Nine of the fifteen children had grandchildren. Some of the grandchildren are grandparents by now.

Anna Margaretha Catharina Rijper-Ros reached the age of 94. She died on December 14 1980 in Amersfoort. Four days later she is also buried in the grave of her husband, daughter and two sons. Weird coincidence or not, while lowering her coffin, machine gun fire fills the air. A military practice was at the nearby “Leusderheide” fields.



Flags half-mast at a cemetery in Amersfoort

© 2011