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Bernardus IJzerdraat

Date of Birth : 13-10-1891
Date of Death : 13-03-1941
Age : 49
Cemetery : Plot A. Grave 473
Organisation : De Geuzen
Bernardus IJzerdraat was born on 13 October 1891 in Haarlem, The Netherlands. He was a son of Willem Bernadus IJzerdraat and Anna Margaretha Helena IJzerdraat (nee Buckmann). He worked as a restorer of gobelin tapestry and as a teacher in Rotterdam. He later started his own artweavingschool in Laren. In de 1930's the school had to close because of the economical crisis. Hij then worked as an advisor at a tapestry factory in Dinxperlo. In 1936 he joined the Eenheid door Democratie (Unity by Democracy) movement, which was against fascism, national socialism and communism.
In 1939 IJzerdraat returned to Rotterdam en became a teacher at several schools in Schiedam and Vlaardingen. The German bombing of Rotterdam on 14 May 1940 and the following Dutch capitulations made a strong impression on IJzerdraat and made him call for resistance. IJzerdraat founed one of the first resistance groups in The Netherlands, called De Geuzen (The Beggars), after the Watergeuzen (Sea Beggars) who were very succesfull in the Eighty Years' War between The Netherlands and Spain. On 18 May 1940 their newspaper, called Geuzenbericht, already appeared. It was the 2nd edition. The first edition is said to have been spread on 15 May 1940, but no copies are known to exist and it might be there was no 1st edition at all. In the newspaper IJzerdraat predicted the Germans would take all resources, would introduce ration coupons and would force Dutch people to work for them.
On 25 November 1940 IJzerdraat was arrested after he was betrayed to the Germans. At his home the Germans found a list with the names and adresses of the other members of De Geuzen and of another resistance group De Oranjewacht (Guard of Orange). 18 of them were arrested. After a trial most of them were sentenced to death. IJzerdraat and 14 other members of De Geuzen, together with 3 so called February-Strikers (after the February Strike, the first public protest against the Nazis in occupied Europe, organized by the Communist Party of The Netherlands) were killed on 13 March 1941 at the Waalsdorpervlakte, Wassenaar, The Netherlands. The names of the men killed that day are: Bernardus IJzerdraat, Jan Wernard van den Bergh, George den Boon, Reijer Bastiaan van der Borden Nicolaas Arie van der Burg, Jacob van der Ende, Albertus Johannes de Haas, Leendert Keesmaat, Arij Kop, Dirk Kouwenhoven, Jan Kijne, Leendert Langstraat, Frans Rietveld, Johannes Jacobus Smit, Hendrik Wielenga, Hermanus Coenradi, Joseph Eijl and Eduard Hellendoorn.
In 1941 Dutch journalist, poet, writer an resistace fighter Jan Remco Theodoor Campert, who himself died in concentration camp Neuengamme in 1943, wrote a poem about the 18 men killed, called The Song of the Eighteen Dead. The first verse:
A cell is but six feet long
and hardly six feet wide,
yet smaller is the patch of ground,
that I now do not yet know,
but where I nameless come to lie,
my comrades all and one,
we eighteen were in number then,
none shall the evening see come.
(Click here for the full poem)
In 1955 IJzerdraat was posthumously awarded the Verzetskruis (Resistance Cross) and in 1991 he was posthumously awarded the Geuzenpenning (Beggars Medal).
Picture: 13-09-2016
Picture: 20-05-2017
Sources: Website Oorlogsgravenstichting, website https://warpoets.org.uk, website www.jaarvanverzet.nl and Wikipedia


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