Second world war

Second World War

The moving history of the underground hiding place

Below a sand dune on the Berkenheuvel park lays a war monument. This pitch dark space is a tangible memory. The space is supported by wooden beams and walls made of wooden poles. It is the fourth version of a hiding place from the last years of the Second World War. It started off as a single room, a hole dug by some young chaps from Diever, who had to hide from the occupying forces. One of them, Fokke Hessels, thought of the name Wigwam, which derived from his Red Indian stories. It was still only a hole in the ground in an extensive forest. Once the number of raids increased, it became more necessary to hide. The well-camouflaged hiding place was now in use continuously and was enlarged to become an ‘onderduikershol’ (underground hiding place). Friends living close by delivered medical and other supplies. Sometimes, the hiding place was the operating base for illegal actions against the occupying forces. In 1944, two American bomber pilots were hidden in the hole for weeks, while awaiting safe transportation by the resistance movement.


In the meantime, too many people knew or guessed about the hiding hole and ‘Americans’ in the forest. The occupying forces were hunting continuously, too. When several people got arrested, some information escaped. On 22 November 1944 a German soldier commando raided the hiding place and captured everyone. Later, helpers were arrested and taken away. Eight men were killed. A commemorative plaque at the entrance of the hiding hole commemorates their history.

Once the war was over, many people went to take a look at what remained of the hole. Restorations have taken place since, to prevent accidents (caving in). The hiding place was named 'Onderduikershol'. The place which used to be so hard to find is now very accessible, so that it can fulfil its role as a ‘natural’ war monument.

It was not the only underground hiding place in and around Drenthe. Many dozens have existed in forest and field. The most important ones are still known, fifty years on. Helping people in hiding has saved many lives in the Netherlands; some 16,000 Jewish fellow-citizens were saved and it also meant that Nazi Germany missed out on 300,000 labourers.

More war monuments

In the Wapserveld stands a monument to commemorate six young men who were killed by the German occupying forces on 8 September 1944. A seventh victim survived, but was disabled for life. The boys were part of a group of men who had fled from a labour camp in Vledder. The Sicherheitsdienst found the group and killed these men at this spot in the heath. The monument can be visited at your own convenience. It can be found along the Huenderweg (Doldersum-Wateren).

Another war monument was erected in the Hoekenbrink area. A Canadian airplane was shot down here on the 22 October 1943. Seven crew died. They were buried at the general cemetery in Diever. There is another modest war monument to commemorate a Jewish labour camp close to the Hoeve on the Bosweg (Forest Road) leading from Diever to Wateren.