A friend is telling

Joop Schaap

Joop Schaap was about 27 years old when I learned him to know. He lived in the years ’25-’28 in the so-called Staatsliedenbuurt in Amsterdam-West, where I was an active member of the Communist Youth League ‘De Zaaier’ and met him several times. He was a member of the C.P.H. (Communist Party Holland) and worked mainly with dockers and sailors, with whom he had a lot of contacts.

Due to private circumstances he was removed from the C.P.H and he moved to Rotterdam. Here too he had good contacts with boat workers and seamen. Due to his activity, he again became a leading position in their organizations, and here it was that he made his illegal connections when Hitler came to power in 1933.

Through the Rhine shipping and through seagoing vessels from Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Antwerp and the Scandinavian countries, large quantities of propaganda material were smuggled into Nazi Germany. Many German emigrants in the Netherlands and elsewhere could continue their work in Germany through this material.

By means of Schaap, in the election struggle in the Amsterdam labor districts, a “Red Sailor” of the Hamburg-Amsterdam line, together with Pam Pooters, Adr. Koejemans and others, spoke against fascism.

During the war years, this antifascistic propaganda continued, of course, under even more difficult conditions. But, moreover, direct sabotage was carried out by Joop Schaap’s companions on expedient German ships loaded with weapons.

Until the Gestapo arrested the entire Dutch group by betrayal, arrests were also made in the foreign ports. Joop Schaap was caught in Copenhagen where he had fled to. In Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the Nazi hangmen caught, Leen Seegers and his mother, Theo Fleeré and his wife, Achillus Bequin and his wife, Evert Hoedemaker, Proost Jansen, Van Den Honaart, Roel Vogelzang, Willem van Vreeswijk, Arie Tettelaar, Leon Barbier, Jan Hoorn, Jan van Schaik, Mathijs Kerver and Adriaan Joh. Feij. The latter has “betrayed” and mentioned to S.D. and Gestapo practically all members. Maybe also Herman Mark might have been caught, I could not figure it out. He made all sorts of storage spaces for explosives on a lathe (got from Joop Schaap).

Coba and Leentje, the women of the Amsterdammers Fleeré and Bequin, carried in special girdles to fill the body blocks with explosives filled or discharged bolts with a explosive load. Those were placed on or on ships who traveled to Germany, German ships carrying large loads of ammunition or weapons were blown through heavier cargo (bombs).

All arrested were brought to prison in Fühlsbuttel-Hamburg. There the interrogations were taken place. Leen Segers told me later in Sachsenhausen that in his conviction his mother died of the consequences of the perished misery and hardship.

For the process that took place in Berlin, (possibly not all) were involved in Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg. In any case, I had personal contact with young Leen Seegers and Theo Fleeré, both of whom had been in the hospital barrack for a long time with t.b.c. Also I met Arie Tettelaar and Evert Hoedemaker. Evert has made an important contribution in the camp for the preparation for an armed insurgency (that has not taken place) by the smuggling of weapons from the camp sites around the camp.

I have heard the names of Kerver and Bequin in the camp, insofar I have not had a personal meeting with either of them. Vreeswijk I remember vaguely from the camp, I’m not sure about that. Of the rest I only learned after I received the death list of Plötzensee. Coba, Theo’s wife, I have known since the first world war when we were neighbors in the Polanenstraat in the Amsterdam Spaarndammerbuurt. Her brother-in-law, Jan Lemaire Jr., was also in Sachsenhausen. He arrived with the same transport from Amersfoort in Sachsenhausen in February 1943. There he led the cultural work for the Interrogations in captivity in this great camp until the liberation.

On Thursday, July 25, 1941, my notes indicate that the transport from the prison Fühlsbuttel arrived at the camp Sachsenhausen. They received the registration numbers between about 38741 (the number of Arie Tettelaar) and 38813 (the number of Evert Hoedemaker), so that about 70 people from Fühlsbuttel were transferred. The same day more transport prisoners came in, but they received much higher matric numbers. Of the others in the Schaap group, the prison numbers are not known to me.

Hoedemaker and Tettelaar returned after the war, hence I know their numbers. The ladies Bequin and Fleeré were released before, probably Fey too. Those who do not appear in the Plötzensee list have probably died in a camp or during transport.

To attend the session of the Nazi court, all Sachsenhausen stakeholders went ‘auf Termin’ as the official term was. Also the two t.b.c. sick, Leen and Theo. After returning to the camp after months, they returned, without their friends, Joop Schaap, who was arrested on July 30, 1943, and Leon Barbier, Achille Bequin, Jan Hoorn, Jan van Schaik and Willem Vreeswijk, all killed in September 7 at Plötzensee.

Theo Fleeré died after t.b.c. in Sachsenhausen’s sick barracks, according to his wife on December 19, 1943, shortly after his friends said goodbye to him.
Leen Seegers Jr. – his father was caught in Buchenwald – went to Jan van Kuik on transport to the infamous Lublin-Majdanek camp, where he apparently died according to there friends’ announcements.

How and where the others of the group Schaap have died have remained unknown.

There was, to my knowledge, nothing written about the heroic comrades of the ship sabotage team against fascism, which I thought it was good to tell about, even if it was in this flawed manner.

Our fallen combatants whose youngest, Barbier, was a worker from The Hague, only 22 years old and the oldest Schaap, Amsterdam sailor, was only 44 years old, WE NEVER MAY FORGET THEM.

Wim Zwart


At a given moment, it was winter ’38-’39 I received a call in Zaandam that I had to go directly to Amsterdam to bring Joop Schaap to Belgium, he was searched by the Amsterdam police.

I just disassembled my motorcycle to store it for the winter. I quickly assembled the motorcycle and drove to Amsterdam. His parents had a grocery store in the Albert Cuypstraat, but Joop was in the house of Leen Seegers. There he would be in the portal, I had to drive by and he would jump at the back.

The house was surrounded by police. I rushed into the street, the door opened. Joop ran out, jumped and off we went. Soon we had the police behind us. We drove up the Haarlemmerweg and then entered a playground. Our pursuers wandered past, we could “quietly” pursue our way.

At ten to half-one, Joop had to catch the night train to Paris, which at that time left direction Brussels. Joop picked up the train at the very last moment. Numb, really stiffened from the cold, he rolled off the motorcycle, a Belgian comrade picked him up and carried him half the train.

I have not seen him anymore. We were stuck at the same time. I was also sitting in Hamburg for nine months alone in a cell, later I was taken to Sachsenhausen.

My life is due to a small red book that I received before the war when I worked for Spain. It was about what we could expect when we were caught and how we could cope with it at the best.

At the front of the book was stated : “With confessions, nobody has ever been released.”

Evert Hoedemaker – Woerdenseverlaat

Source: A. van Luttikhuizen-De Vries, Enkelen van de 56 miljoen, De Anti-Fascist, Apeldoorn 1985