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Canadians cleared fortified island only after Germans were tricked into surrendering

Liberation came late for Schiermonnikoog

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SCHIERMONNIKOOG, the Netherlands Ė The delay in the arrival of Liberation Day - May 5 - significantly heightened the unease and insecurity on the Frisian Islands in 1945. The nearby mainland mostly had been cleared of enemy troops in the week of April 15, the western part of the country had followed largely by May 8th. On Schiermonnikoog it would be another month before the German SS and SD units were disarmed.

The island had been heavily fortified during the occupation as part of the Atlantikwall defence line, with the number of German troops equaling the islandís own population of 600. The two groups had kept out of each otherís way, wearily maintaining peace. Instead of the arrival of Liberators, hundreds of SS troops along with members of the SD reinforced the German contingent on the island, even putting the regular German army unit on edge. The escapees from the Groningen area were contained on an isolated farm on the eastern tip of the island, far away from the local population as well as from the regular troops.

The German reinforcements on the island made Allied plans to disarm these troops risky at best. With the war over for weeks already, the Canadians did not want to spill more blood. A member of the Dutch resistance ended the impasse however when he, disguised as an Allied negotiator, approached the German commander with surrender instructions. The Germans fortunately took the bait, allowing for their peaceful evacuation to Wilhelmshaven in Germany.

Schiermonnikoog which was owned by German nobility, made Dutch history by being the last municipality to welcome its Liberators, on June 11. Neighbouring Vlieland was second last and had been cleared on May 30.