Sunday, May 29, 2011

Diet Eman: Invasion of the Netherlands

Diet Eman, 1940. Courtesy of Diet Eman.

On May 10, 1940, 20 year-old Diet Eman woke to what sounded like someone beating a rug with a mattenklopper (rug beater). But she suddenly realized that it was the middle of the night and that the “pop-pop-pop” sound was coming much too fast to be a Dutch housewife doing her chores.

Diet ran to join her father and mother, who were already standing outside in the front of their house. There, up in the night sky, they could see an airplane battle. They all ran back into the house and turned on the radio. It was true: Hitler had invaded the Netherlands, only a few hours after promising over the Dutch radio that he wouldn’t. They were at war with Nazi Germany.

In spite of the danger, the next day Diet decided to bicycle to work at the bank as usual. She was surprised when she was stopped on the street by a Dutch policeman who ordered her to slowly speak the words schveningen and schapenscheerder. The Dutch police were trying to weed out Germans posing as Dutch who would most likely not be able to pronounce those Dutch words.

But no matter how many phony Dutchmen the police were able to find, the Germans kept coming. After five days of defensive fighting, and after the city of Rotterdam was bombed to the ground, the Netherlands surrendered to Germany.

Opening paragraphs of "Diet Eman: Courier for the Dutch Resistance" from Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue.

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