A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Autobiography of Carl Kaas

A Member of the Dutch Underground in World War II

Chapter 83: The Rebirth

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When the other truckers became aware that I was in business on wheels only, they rushed out to do a little better.

Tim Hoogland found and bought a "BERLIET", a French made vehicle, very heavy with a four cylinder gasoline engine, so wide he could not legally bring it home or drive it on our narrow roads in the country.

Ali Hoogland, Tim's brother who had the cartage run, got himself a left handed, four-wheel drive, single tire Chevrolet army truck.

Joe Schut, who had taken his pre-war truck apart and hid the pieces, was putting it back together.

The first job I got was to haul traitors and NSB'rs to and from work. All them criminals were housed in the German built concentration camp of which one was in Amersfoort. The government, or whoever was in charge, would not let people sit around, they had to work to improve the land by digging ditches, levelling and straightening the roads. During the big depression before the war, the unemployed did that work, now the despised took over. That gave me a good start.

In the meantime, I applied for a new truck. This was a complicated process. They were importing a few trucks, but to figure out who should get one - this took a lot of brain power, I guess. They only had so many for distribution. I told them, of course, that what I was doing was very, very important and by golly, in less than a year I could go and buy a new Ford truck. I would have preferred a Chev, but in Amsterdam, there was an assembly plant for Fords and none other.

Now while I am at it, might as well go whole hog and put a back dump box on it. Can you imagine the difference it made when one unloaded a cargo of sand? Customers really liked it! One farmer had never seen a dump truck so when I hauled a load of (takke bossen) firewood branches in bundles, he said "Dump it". "Gladly." The whole stack which took half an hour to pile on the truck - bingo! - was right on the ground. It was quite a mess to straighten out, but that's alright.

When I got my new truck, I kept the old one, hired a driver and put him to work too. However, that was only short lived. As soon as the Department of Highways found out, I had to get that truck off the road. They told me, "There is another guy who wants to make a living, you are not going to take his business away." Where is free enterprise? Is competition not a good thing?? This was the law. "Okay, okay, I will sell one."

One thing was nice so far: I could transport anything from cattle to furniture, household goods to bricks, for the time being, anyway. I was asked to take on a contract with a feed mill in Utrecht, the "SOL" company. Every week, I would pick up a load and distribute it to the different farmers who figured theirs was the best feed in the world - maybe so, I did not mind.

The house we grew up in was built with the bricks of an old castle, called "Zwanenburg" (Mansion of the Swan) which had stood near us. After a couple of hundred years, it was torn down and the bricks were used to build the "ROZENBOOM" (Rose tree). It was built on top of a kind of morass. When a heavy truck came down the road, you could feel the house lift up, when the truck passed by, the house came down again. Can you imagine the cracks in the walls? They ran in every direction. Whole chunks of plaster on the outside fell off. It was really time for a change.

There was one huge problem to build a new house: the cost would be prohibitive. A permit to build was easy after they inspected our abode. To help make it possible, the government was willing to help us out. We had to come up with the cash but they would pay the interest on the difference between the cost to build and the "value" of the house. The "value" was determined by what the house would be worth based on the rental income one could get for it.

When everything was done and completed, our house was valued at only half the cost, or in our case, $15,000. They would thus pay the interest over the $15,000 for ten years. They would then evaluate the house, and if still over-valued, would pay for another five years. Finally, after 15 years, if the house was still not worth $30,000, they would pay off the difference. Ha, ha, easier said than done. I consulted our building inspector and explained my situation, and he figured, "Yes, it could be done." "Shall I go ahead? And when I get the cash, will you help me get a permit?" "I see no problem," he said.

I had an uncle who I thought was well to do. When I asked him to supply me with the loot, however, he did not comply. I really believe he could not afford it or maybe did not have it at all.

When I got a commitment from the bank, I went back to our building inspector and proudly said, "Here you are. Let's get the OK from the government". It was like a "Believe It Or Not" story. He totally denied ever making the promise that he would help. I was not very nice to him after that.

Now what? I needed a lot more persuasion than I personally could press for. So I went to see my old friend Lt. Huygen. He was now in the new Dutch army and already promoted to Captain. He agreed immediately to look into it and see what he could do. What a wonderful friend to have. He went from office to office, and in no time, he had the necessary papers and the commitment of the government to pay.

I asked how he did it. "Well, before I walk up to those people, I pull the collar with the three stars out and let it hang out, so they see whom they are talking to and give me respect." Thank you, Captain!!

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Related resources:

National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands. Dutch: Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging (NSB) in Nederland from Wikipedia.

What did the Dutch people think of NSB (Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging) in WW2? "After the war, NSB members saw their possessions confiscated without any remuneration, NSB leaders were either executed or imprisoned for life, some 150,000 others (both members as well as their families) were interned and many of those were sentenced to several years in prison for collaboration with the enemy. It was virtually impossible for former NSB members or their family for that matter, to return to and take part in Dutch post-war society."

World War II: Dutch Collaboration--Retribution.

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