Envelope with the possessions carried by engineer Loep
Loep was missing when the Germans held a roll call on the grounds of the Stork machine factory in Hengelo on the second day of the April/May strikes. When he was arrested outside the factory, he truthfully responded that he simply had the day off. His statement was ignored. There had to be death sentences carried out, and there was no way around it. Loep did not distance himself from the strike: 'I stand with my countrymen and I don't want to be a strike breaker.' His body was never found. His family was given nothing but the envelope containing the contents of his pockets. Back to highlights
After their victory at Stalingrad, Russian troops were driving the Germans back. The English gained supremacy in the air, and German cities were subjected to heavy bombing. Hitler stirred the population on to an all-out effort in the Totalkrieg [Total War].
There was a massive move of German soldiers to the Eastern Front. Labour forces from occupied countries were put to work to keep the German war industry going.
April 29th, 1943: a completely unexpected announcement was made that 300,000 Dutch soldiers would after all be transported as prisoners of war. They had been released in 1940, but now Germany needed labour forces.
Spontaneous strikes broke out in the eastern region Twente and spread like lightning across large parts of the country. The strikes later became known as the April/May strikes, or the Milk strikes, because the strikes were mainly in the countryside and in many places farmers refused to deliver milk to the dairy factories.
The occupiers responded with force
Eighty strikers were summarily executed. Their names were printed on posters as a deterrence. Shots were fired on groups of strikers. An additional 95 were killed and 400 were seriously wounded. On May 3rd most of the strikers went back to work.
The strikes marked a turning point. After Amsterdam in 1941, the rest of the Netherlands had now experienced the German terror. Support for the resistance increased sharply.