Baak – Unexploded mortar shells

Baak – Unexploded mortar shells

Baak – Unexploded mortar shells
Baak – Unexploded mortar shells
Baak – Unexploded mortar shells
Baak – Unexploded mortar shells

The village of Baak managed to remain more or less intact during the Second World War, and on 2nd April 1945, the last of the German opposition was finally rounded up. The village was free at last! Yet the sense of joy that came with it, was short-lived. Fewer than 48 hours after the village had been liberated, an unexploded mortar shell went off, killing nine people six of whom were children.

As the Allied troops made their way across the east of the Netherlands, they encountered unexpected and heavy opposition from German troops. Some of the attacks were particularly fierce. Many of the children in Baak had been forced into hiding in the week prior to the liberation: until 2nd April 1945, when the Canadian’s finally arrived. The streets filled with Canadian armoured cars and the Allies chased the last of the German soldiers out of their bunkers using flame throwers, and took them captive. Baak had been liberated.

The explosions continue
The liberation was doubly exciting for the children: they could finally play outside again. On 4th April 1945, a group of children was playing in front of Schooltink’s grocery shop, next to the deserted loading platform that had been used by the former steam tram from Zutphen to Emmerich. All of a sudden, an almighty bang and blinding flash brought playtime to an abrupt end. A mortar shell had exploded. Probably a German grenade fired from nearby Brummen, on the other side of the River IJssel. The explosion killed six children and three adults. The Schooltink family lost three sons, Theo (5), Joosje (7) and Benny (16), in one, single blow.

More killed by unexploded shells
Tragedy hit again later that day, in close-by Bakermark. Another mortar shell exploded, killing two little girls, Dini (5) and Annie (10). They were killed on impact. Then on 9th April 1945, two more people were killed by another of the unexploded shells. It was as if it would never end. This time, a father, and his daughter Rikie (8) were killed. On 6th May 1947, two years after the end of the war, and only one day after the village’s annual liberation-day celebrations, two more were killed: two brothers, Jan (4) and Benny (7) who had found yet another shell in a ditch.

For the villagers of Baak, the liberation of 1945 was a tragic time and the memories are terrible ones.

The victims from Baak
Annie van den Bos (10)
Jo Dahlhaus (7)
Dikkie Donderwinkel (9)
Opa G.J. Donderwinkel (67)
Jan Notten (4)
Benny Notten (7)
Theo Schooltink (5)
Joosje Schooltink (7)
Benny Schooltink (16)
Henk Thuijsman (17)
Rikie Vredegoor (8)
J.T.A. Vredegoor (39)
Dini Wieggers (5)

Baak – Unexploded mortar shells
Baak – Unexploded mortar shells
Baak – Unexploded mortar shells
Baak – Unexploded mortar shells

Baak - Granaatinslag na de bevrijding

Baak - Granaatinslag na de bevrijding

More information

Baak – Unexploded mortar shells
Zutphen Emmerikseweg 64
7223DJ Baak

Marker of location