This resulted in a large stream of evacuees from Arnhem and Oosterbeek. Many chose to take the road through Deelen and on towards Apeldoorn. A significant second stream headed for Otterlo and Harskamp. And so in September 1944, dozens of refugees, including a large group of holy brothers evacuated from Oosterbeek, arrived at De Harscamp Farm at the edge of the village of Harskamp.
This farm was owned by Helena Brückmann-Kröller, the daughter of the founder of Museum Kröller-Müller. She herself lived in Het Klaverblad, another farm about 100 metres away; her own house had been taken over by German officers. Next door was Huize Harskamp, the headquarters of the German local military commander, and next to this was the German Krankenrevier (military hospital).
The refugees included Jewish people in hiding, so they were now literally just a stone’s throw from dozens of Germans.
From the end of September, life at the large farm was organised under the leadership of the Roman-Catholic brothers. The facilities included a soup kitchen, which was quite the feat: the number of residents rose to over 100, and some 500 meals were prepared every day. This was because Harskamp and the surrounding area were flooded with refugees, and the local population often had to use the soup kitchen as well.
Brother Apollonius and Brother Placidus each kept a diary. On 16 April 1945, they wrote: “By now Canadian tanks have arrived at Harskamp. Tanks were drawn up here at the farm. Three Germans drove into the courtyard, suspecting nothing. When they spotted the Canadians they tried to turn around but the Canadians immediately opened fire. One Canadian Indian was hit in the back of the head. He was taken to the field hospital but after half an hour this soldier, who had given his life for us, was reunited with the Creator.”
The fallen Canadian soldier was Maxwill Warren King (born 1921). He left behind his wife and 1-year-old daughter and lies buried in Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery.
Do you want to experience this story on its original location? The information panel can be found slightly off the cycle route network north of the Laarweg and Heersweg intersection and south of camping 'De Harscamp'.