Topics

Features

News Articles

Resistance work posthumously praised in hometown Enkhuizen

Mazereeuw brothers hid Jews in WWII


Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ENKHUIZEN - Their resistance work and arranging hiding places for Jews has been recognized by the Enkhuizen municipality 61 years after two local brothers were arrested and jailed by the SD. A plaque honouring Piet and Thijs Mazereeuw recently was unveiled at a bridge near their family home.

The thirteen siblings of the two Mazereeuw brothers had no inkling of the pairís activities until the day the two men were arrested by the feared Sicherheits-dienst (SD). Piet and Thijs not only had arranged hiding places elsewhere for Jews, they also were host to a number of such Ďguestsí themselves when their homes - across the street from each other - were raided in June 1943. Thijsí home was the hiding place for Saal and Fie Akker and for Saalís father; Piet was host to a Mr. and Mrs. Cohen and their son Nico.

In April 1943, the few dozen Jews living in Enk-huizen had been ordered to relocate to the ghetto in Amsterdam. Instead, nearly all went into hiding and most survived. The local synagogue, established in 1791, when there were 105 Jews living in the town, survived as well; it now is a protestant church.

Eventually, the activities of the Mazereeuw brothers came to the attention of the Sicherheitsdienst. The raid on the two homes led to the arrest of both men - it was Pietís 40th birthday - and of the Cohen family. Thijs had been warned and managed, with the help of his brother Klaas, to spirit the Akkers away. He was at a loss to explain to the SD the presence of luggage left behind. The brothers were not aware of each otherís resistance activities.

Jailed but released

Although they were jailed together in Leiden, Thijs soon was released. He returned to Enkhuizen, where he took the Akker couple back in his home, after they had been living for a while in a shack at a nearby field. The Cohens had been sent to Westerbork and soon after perished in a German concentration camp.

Piet Mazereeuw eventually was taken to the notorious prison in Scheveningen, known as the Oranjehotel. He spent three months in that prison before his brother Jaap - who just before the war had formed a seed company now known as Enza Zaden - managed to get him released.

Canada

Traumatized by his incarceration and grieving over the fate of the Cohens, Piet, his wife Annie (Verleg) and their young family emigrated to Canada in the late 1940s. The Mazereeuws were joined in Canada in 1957, by two other brothers, Jan and Andries, and their families. A number of nephews and cousins followed them. Piet first operated a dairy farm and later a German Shepherd dog kennel in Langley, BC, which still is in operation in Vernon, BC. Piet passed away in November 1996. His brother Thijs died in 1999. Of the fifteen Mazereeuw siblings, only Jaap, Dirk (now 90) and Sjoerd are still alive.

An area daily newspaper reported the Mazereeuw story to a wide public after reading about it in an annual newsletter issued by the local historical society Old Enkhuizen.