A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Autobiography of Carl Kaas

A Member of the Dutch Underground in World War II

Chapter 89: Noose of a Different Kind

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Many other events happened in my life in which I was not directly involved or that did not affect me personally but I think are worth mentioning because they are not an every day occurrence. In a previous chapter I wrote about a noose I got caught in, but this is about another noose, not such a pleasant one.

We had a neighbor farmer by the name of Johan Wanders. There was a fellow in Woudenberg, (the place were Pa carted his milk cans to everyday) whose name was van Putten. Another guy, who worked with Papa Rutten in the flour mill, was named Oosterbroek and lived close by in "Ruige veld," which means Rough Field. What do those three men have in common? They were married to three sisters - which was not uncommon. Maybe so, but what was unusual was that they all liked ropes.

Pa Rutten came to work one day at the mill and got the surprise of his life - his co-worker, Mr. Ooterbrook, was there already but not working: he was hanging with a rope around his neck, from a rafter, deader than a door nail. Pa cut him down, but the man was totally out of breath, unable to thank him.

Brother-in-law, van Putten, could not sleep too good. Was it because he was thinking about Oosterbroek and what he had performed with a noose? It must have appealed to him because he snuck out of bed and got himself a rope too. He headed for the shed behind the house, tied his rope to a rafter, stuck his head in the noose and never said goodbye to anyone. His wife did not agree to that it seemed, because she chased after him with a knife, and before he could depart from this life and his wife, she cut him loose and saved his life. She must have given him a good talking to because he never tried that again.

Johan, the farmer across the street from us, had some grazing land at the end off the school lane. One day, he had a rope wrapped around the handle bars of his bicycle. He stopped on his way to chat with Dirk van Garderen about the weather, of course. The rope he had was in case he had to bring home a calf or heifer. At supper time, when everything was ready: potatoes on the table, kids ready, father was not there. A search went out in the neighborhood. They found Dirk was the last person to have seen him. He recalled Johan was on his way to the cattle and nobody had seen him since. Had he gotten a flat? No, he could have walked home. Maybe he was still looking at his cows.

Dirk jumped on his bike and went looking - indeed Johan was still looking at the cows, but from an odd angle: from up above, with his head in a noose. Did Dirk tell him to get down that it was supper time? Did he ask Johan why he had that rope around his neck? Was that rope not intended for a calf? Had he missed and got it around his own neck instead? Whatever happened, Dirk got no answer, so he climbed in the tree and got a cold shoulder. Dirk reported, Johan won't need or eat supper tonight.

Related resources:

Suicide by hanging: multicentre study based on coroners’ records in England by Olive Bennewith, BA and David Gunnell, PhD, FFPH, Navneet Kapur, MD, MRCPsych and Pauline Turnbull, BA, Sue Simkin, BA, Lesley Sutton, MSc and Keith Hawton, DSc, FRCPsych, from British Journal of Psychiatry, The Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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