A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Autobiography of Carl Kaas

A Member of the Dutch Underground in World War II

Chapter 74. Our First Raid

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When the battle line came closer to home, we did less sabotage work and concentrated more on what had to be done when the final push would start.

Now I came in contact for the first time with other members of the underground. Our meeting place was on the Soesterweg in a bakery which was run by a couple with no children. Quite an assortment of people: a sailor of the merchant marine, partly deaf about sixty years old; two brothers in their early twenties; a runaway Jew; a runaway Polish POW; an assortment of people from all walks of life with one common goal. Altogether there were about fifteen in our group. There were several more like us in the city, so they said. This was a good place for us to come together because of the bakery and a store in front. People could walk in and out without suspicion. We always had to be on the alert for traitors, they were everywhere.

One afternoon, when we were instructed and brought up to the latest developments, an army truck stopped in front of the store. In a flash, the place was empty - before the soldiers got off the truck. We weren't gonna wait to find out what they were up to.

Jaap and I went through the back fence into the railway yard which was directly behind the bakery. We definitely were faster than a greyhound on a race track. Diving behind freight cars, we felt it was time to slow down and assess our situation. What happened? Was it a Razia? Very likely, because no truck with soldiers would come to buy a loaf of bread - because they knew too, there wasn't any.

We couldn't go back until we found out what happened, so we continued through the hundreds of railway cars until we reached the other side. We did not walk in the normal sense of the word - it was more like we crept from one box car to the next, eyes everywhere.

When it got dark, we crossed the B & W Lane, from where I had stood years ago in awe of the trains busy shuttling back and forth, blowing whistles and steam. But now a deadly stillness with hundreds of cars unattended and forlorn.

Jaap knew a preacher who was living on this side of the tracks. We found our way to his house and he took us in for the night.

The next day, we found out that it was a Razia (Raid). They went through the whole house and bakery, turned everything upside down but did not find anything. Were we betrayed? Very likely, but by whom, nobody knows.

The beautiful part was they never found our arsenal. Right next to the bakery was an auto wrecker. He had a whole bunch of car frames stacked tightly together on end. Our cave was below all those chassis. To get to it you had to know exactly past which frame to squeeze and worm your way through this maze to get in the chamber where we kept the sten guns, rifles, hand grenades and, of course, the machine gun we had borrowed from the Germans some months ago. Who was gonna use it in time of need, I don't and did not care, because I would not know how to operate the killing machine. I am sure they had enough people in the underground with previous experience to handle it.

Here I found out too they had a rifle range in the basement of a church - which one or where I don't know and they would not tell until my time came up for practice. As the war front came nearer, we spent more time in the back shed at the bakery, waiting for orders. The orders were transmitted by couriers on bicycles or walking on foot. It could be an old man with a beard shuffling along, it could be a mother with a baby in the carriage, it could also be an unshaven person pushing a wooden wheeled hand cart with an armful of firewood.

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