According to the site oorlogsdodennijmegen.nl, Willibrord Kerzmann is a war dead due to Operation Black Tulip.
Camp Mariënbosch was located in Nijmegen and although, according to the government an unknown number of Germans died during their internment and deportation there, apparently Willibrord Kerzmann was the only recognized fatality of this operation.
His death in October 1947 was front page news in several newspapers. Questions about this incident were put to the Minister of Justice in the House of Representatives. Willibrord was 68 years old at the time of his deportation, had worked in the Netherlands as a miner for decades and consequently suffered from the serious disease silicosis. On September 29th, 1947, he and his wife (and a group of other Germans) were arrested by the Dutch police at 6:00 am to be deported. He was in such bad health that he had already been given the last sacraments. Although the arresting policemen were aware of his poor condition, he was nevertheless deported to Nijmegen. He died during this deportation on an open truck.
Section by a doctor at the hospital in Nijmegen showed that Willibrord Kerzmann should absolutely not have been transported given his poor condition. In December 1947 the public prosecutor in Maastricht refused to investigate the case thoroughly, despite the urgent request to do so by Willibrord’s relatives.
The file of Willibrord Kerzmann is the only file of many hundreds of files of highly questionable deportations that was made public at the time. It is remarkable that the National Archives, according to their own statements, currently have no information about Willibrord Kerzmann.
In 2012, relatives of Willibrord Kerzmann submitted a WOB request to the municipality where he used to live, in order to obtain all the information about the preparation and implementation of his deportation. In response, the municipality stated that this information had never existed or got lost long ago. In 2013, however, the relatives received a book which was published in 2008 in which grateful use had been made of the authentic and official documents from the municipal archives about the deportation of Willibrord Kerzmann. The archivists of the municipality had given the author permission to publish these documents.
Willibrord Kerzmann’s identity card was forged after his tragic death. The forged identity card states that he was retired and the date of his deportation had been removed from it. Any connection between Operation Black Tulip and his death can therefore no longer be found on the identity card.
To date his family members have not been given access to his file. So far, the municipality has not been able to explain to them why, according to the municipality, they have no right to inspect information about the preparation and implementation of his deportation and why the municipality deliberately withholds this information.
The article below was published in the Volkskrant on October 9, 1947:
PAULINE was the daughter of a Dutch mother and a German father who came to the Netherlands after the First World War. Pauline has passed away. The following story was already written down by herself in 1998.
It was like this towards the end of May 1945. In the middle of the night my mother woke us up. In the house I heard strange noises; voices, clattering, loud footsteps, men yelling and running about. Mother dressed us, I was 10 and my sister was 8 years old. When we came down the stairs the men became calm, they were Amsterdam police officers. I was carrying a small suitcase, which may already have been ready, and we got into the police car, Mother, Father and both children. We drove to an area that I did not know, it smelled of water. It was the Levantkade, there were barracks there, it was a camp.
We stood there with a great many people in long lines, men and women separated, children with their mothers. It was still dark. Someone shouted that we should not put the suitcases on the floor. My mother said, “you can simply put the suitcase down”, but I didn’t. Then we came to a large dark room divided by a grid, the bottom was covered with straw, we were assigned a place there. We lay down and waited.
In the morning we were given small pieces of bread with water. Outside we could wash at a long gutter with water taps. Three young women, perhaps 18 or perhaps 28 years old, were guarding us. Two looked like movie stars, with long blond curly hair and they wore short tiger or leopard fur coats. In my eyes the fur was real. Their behaviour made a deep impression on me: how could they be so beautiful and at the same time so bad and mean (much later it dawned on me that they probably belonged to the Internal Forces, the armed resistance). Once, when we were outside to have a wash, we saw how hands were stretched out above the dividing wall and we heard men behind this wall shout “hunger, hunger”. Then my mother threw a piece of bread over the partition. She was punished with three earwigs.
After a few days, Canadian soldiers came to inspect the camp. Our mother told us that they were outraged by the circumstances and said that they had not come there to guard women and children. From that moment on we got slices of bread and milk and also some butter and jam. I don’t know exactly how long we were held in this camp. The days were very boring. There weren’t many kids our age, most of them were younger or still babies. Now and then the big sliding doors were opened and then I could see the men, they had to run fast and leap like frogs. The guards screamed loudly, the whole situation was terrifying, so I quickly went back inside. One day my sister and I were picked up by the police and handed over to an uncle, who took us to Groningen. My mother was not told where we were being taken, which was part of her punishment – or it was just to taunt and humiliate her because her husband was German.
Much later we learned that the butcher who lived around the corner and had a large family, had designs on our house. At that time, all one had to do was go to the police and say: “There are Germans living there”. That was enough. It was a good thing that this butcher did not know during the occupation that we had Jewish people in hiding…
My mother was released pretty soon after us, my father was kept a little longer in the camp on the Levantkade, just like the NSB members and other collaborators or simple craftsmen who had worked for the occupying forces.
In 1947 we were arrested once more. From Tilburg, where we lived at the time, we were transported via Amsterdam to a camp near Nijmegen. That was where all Germans were gathered. There were people from Limburg who did not even know that they were actually Germans. We could choose whether we were to be deported to the English or French occupation zone in Germany, the Russian zone was no option and the American zone was closed – and my father would have gone to Bavaria, where he came from. On the advice of a Catholic priest, my parents got divorced, that way my mother could stay in the Netherlands with us children (although we had the German nationality due to our father being German). My father eventually got a visa for Argentina, where his two brothers lived. Two years later my parents remarried, at a distance. Unfortunately, before we could join our father, he died.