The Hoefsloot family lived at Eusebiusbuitensingel 59, near the northern bridge incline in Arnhem, father Piet Hoefsloot was Commander of the so-called Oranjewacht in Arnhem one of the first underground movements of WOII, But he was arrested by the Germans on December 12th, 1940  and was executed on July 9th 1942 in Fort Rijnauwen in Bunnik. This left Mrs Hoefsloot and 11 children  to look after, they lived on the second floor of the house, on the first floor, live grandmother with her nurse and an unmarried sister of Mr Hoefsloot.

Anne Marie Hoefsloot (16 years)

On that Sunday, September 17, I sat with my brothers and sisters in Walburg Church. We were a huge noise outside. The air alarm went off and we heard planes humming and explosions. We sneaked into the tower, to look out of the windows at the top to see what was going on. There we saw a lot of parachutes in the sky. At home we told and then we had to go into the basement. The shooting started and later we also heard anti-aircraft fire and screaming and yelling. Tuesday morning the houses on the canal were on fire by the Germans, to get the British out. My brother Piet went to the school opposite our house waving a big white sheet there were the English, he told how we had to flee, an officer told him we could only flee under the bridge.

Well, that was something with all those kids. We walked with our bikes in hand and carried a white sheet to let them know we were fugitive citizens. There we went.
Planes were flying low over us. We hid under the bridge. An English soldier got us out of there and brought us into a house. We went into the basement and above us the English were shooting at the Germans. Still, we were extremely happy, because we really thought we were liberated! We were given chocolate and other things we hadn't eaten in ages. But the next day the Captain came down and said they couldn't occupy the bridge, we had to get out of there as soon as possible. We walked on and everything was on fire. The Market Square, The Walburg Church everything, very terrible. And so was our business, furniture store Hoefsloot in Bakkerstraat. We had to crawl over the rubble. German soldiers took us to the police station. They saw two grown men with our runner, they were my brothers. But the Germans thought they were English soldiers, hiding among our family.

Fortunately, my mother spoke good German and made it clear that they were her sons. On the way we saw a dead English soldier lying in the street (There was also an English soldier buried in our garden but after the war he was no longer there) they just left him lying there to scare us. We walked on under Zypse poort and there on the side of Sonsbeek, it was as if there was no war at all. That was so strange! people just knocked out their dusters there. There wasn't room enough at Aunt Annie's, so I went with a pair of sisters to an empty house in Heemstralaan and there they were without parental supervision. We loved that, of course. But then everyone had to leave Arnhem and we ended up in Schaarsbergen in a big barn. By now there were 26 of us. We cooked outside and went into the woods, which was totally forbidden. We saw dead Englishmen lying around and we would pass that on to my brother Piet. He then went to bury them.

After a week we had to move on and then we found ourselves in the long column of all those Arnheimers. We were received in a hotel in Apeldoorn, which of course we found mighty fine. But apeldoorn was full and we went on to Baarn. My brothers and I walked that whole stretch. Mother went with the little ones by truck. We walked with a cart with stuff and a white sheet on it. We were shot at by a plane on the way. We ducked into a foxhole and then they probably saw that we were refugees.

In Baarn there was room for us in a boarding house, in the attic. We all had to work, I worked for a doctor, I had to get receipts and evacuation money. We barely had food, but you weren't allowed to say you were hungry. For Christmas, my mother had gotten a piece of meat through the underground. She had roasted the meat for Christmas dinner and put it in the conservatory. When we came back from midnight mass, the meat was gone; someone had stolen it. We still felt bad about that. We then ate bulbs and nettles. What I found so degrading was that we could get food somewhere and then had to eat it on the sidewalk, we weren't let in anywhere. When liberation came there was white bread. We ate it right away. We had a lot of fun with the Allies we got cigarettes and took them home. What do you want with all those girls.

My brother Piet and I went to Arnhem; I also had to go with them to look for a new house for us. I was allowed to go into the city with an English jeep. So I drove through the devastated city, our business was burned and our house was completely destroyed (though badly damaged, theirs and that from the neighboors was still there unlike other houses who were burned down) Then I did think: So unimaginable that all this happened. At the high camp I found a house for us. First house still turned down, imagine as a 16 year old. Every afternoon the English came by and I had lunch with them. Delicious sweet tea and bread. Slowly through H.A.R.K. we got stuff again to furnish our house. The only thing left from the ruins of our house was a statue of Mother Anna (given to my grandmother when I was born as 25th grandchild) It is still with me in the cabinet.

Photo's statue and family via Mrs A Hoefsloot.,tills collection Ph Reinders, 1945 photographs house Gelders Archief