April-May Strike Death Penalty
From the collection of the War and Resistance Center Groningen (OVCG)
h 30 cm x w 35 cm
On 29 April 1943, Wehrmachtbefehlshaber (Wehrmacht Commander) General Friedrich Christiansen announced that Dutch soldiers who had fought against the invading Germans in May 1940 would again be taken as prisoners of war and sent to Germany to work in factories and on the land.
A wave of anger engulfed the country. A spontaneous protest strike broke out in the Stork Machinery Factory in Hengelo. This was followed by the so-called April-May Strikes that swept the rest of the country, except for some cities in the west of the Netherlands. SS and Police leader Hanns Rauter tried to stop the action using violence: he instituted martial law. Twenty-year-old Jogchum van Zwol from the village of Leens, who hadn’t even gone on strike himself, was the first to be summarily executed. He was shot in front of a firing squad on 1 May 1943 in Groningen and buried somewhere in an unmarked grave. When his worried father cycled to the city of Groningen a day later to look for his missing son, he encountered a group of men standing around this placard: an official announcement that his son had been executed by the German occupier. This massive act of resistance in the Netherlands ultimately resulted in 175 deaths.