Recently I was adding distant cousins to my genealogy database when I came across the death information for one of them. Third cousin, twice removed, Jan Kamphorst died 1944 in Ladelund-Neuengamme, Germany. No doubt he was captured as a prisoner. My suspicions were confirmed when I discovered that Ladelund was a concentration camp. Further research revealed the gruesome details of the “Putten Raid“.
On the night of September 30, 1944, a group of Dutch resistance fighters ambushed a German army car carrying two officers and two corporals on the road between Putten and Nijkerk. The subsequent reprisals against Dutch citizens were considered some of the worst of the German occupation of the Netherlands. 661 adult men of Putten were rounded up. 602 of them were taken to the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg. Only 48 of them returned home after the war, many in emaciated condition.
One of the most important web sites documenting the events of October 1944 is Stichting Oktober 44. At that site, you can find a list of the victims of the Putten Raid reprisals, as well as documents relating to their captivity and death, some from the Arolsen Archives. Going through that list, I found a number of distant cousins who died in concentration camps:
- Dirk Buitenhuis, born June 2, 1920, Nijkerk, died November 16, 1944 in Ladelund. (3rd cousin, twice removed)
- Gerrit Buitenhuis, born March 31, 1923, Nijkerk, died December 14, 1944 in Versen. (3rd cousin, twice removed)
- Willem Buitenhuis, born June 1, 1908, Nijkerk, died January 18, 1945 in Neuengamme. (3rd cousin, twice removed)
- Hendrik Haverkamp, born August 13, 1905, Nijkerk, died November 29 in Ladelund. (4th cousin, once removed)
- Jan Kamphorst, born April 2, 1910, Nijkerk, died November 25, 1944 in Ladeund. (3rd cousin, twice removed)
- Aalt van Koot, born September 20, 1925, Nijkerk, died December 9, 1944 in Neuengamme. (5th cousin)
- Albertus Stoffelsen, born December 25, 1914, Nijkerk, died December 7, 1944 in Ladelund. (4th cousin, once removed)
- Evert Stoffelsen, born April 13, 1912, Nijkerk, died November 28, 1944 in Ladelund. (4th cousin, once removed)
- Ruth Stoffelsen, born November 2, 1919, Nijkerk, died November 24, 1944, in Ladelund. (4th cousin, once removed)
The first three in this list were brothers, as well as the last three. Also, Jan Kamphorst and Aalt van Koot were half 3rd cousins, twice removed. In addition, there are other victims who are not directly related to me, but can be connected to people in my database.
Genealogy is not an easy pursuit. Recording information can be boring, and sometimes you can get blase about things like infant deaths. But connecting your blood relatives to an atrocity like this can be quite jarring. I’ve heard stories of the war from both my parents, but nothing they’ve told me was quite as shocking as this. Surely, my mother’s family must have known about this. Even more personal is the fact that one of the victims listed above shares my birthday.
When I first posted this back in February, I knew of six distant cousins taken up in the raid. Today, a month later, I found another three. As I continue my research, I may well find a few more.