The Stadskanaal embroidered kerchief, part 3

Following up on previous blogs, we can now relatively safely identify the embroidered kerchief from Stadskanaal. In the previous blog, we tentatively linked the kerchief to the internment camp 'Ons Belang', constructed in Stadskanaal immediately after the end of World War II, in order to house former collaborators with the Germans. We now have confirmation of this hypothesis: One of the embroidered names is that of Tony Bijland, to whose name is added the embroidered word 'zwemster' (swimmer [fem.]).

Tony Bijland was a female swimming champion who was particularly active in the early 1940s. Born in 1923/24, she trained in Hilversum with the HZC swimming club. In various war-time newspaper articles she is linked to the 'Nationale Jeugdstorm' (the Dutch variant of the Hitlerjugend). She joined the 'European youth swimming championships' in (German) Breslau in 1941. She was interviewed for the Deutsche Zeitung in den Niederlanden (Thursday, 13 July 1944; with photograph). Whether or not she sympathised with the German occupying forces remains unknown. We should not forget she was very young at the time, but it does explain her presence in the internment camp in 1945. How she ended up there, and how and why her name appeared on an embroidered handkerchief, remains a moot point.

Gillian and Willem Vogelsang, 14 April 2015

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