The plot thickens. Last week we told you about a commemorative kerchief from Stadskanaal, a small town in the northeast of The Netherlands. We added that the kerchief included the embroidered signatures of some twenty-five names, plus references to the town of Stadskanaal, the name of 'Ons Belang', and two dates in the year 1945. This week we have received really interesting information from various sides.
As a result the story has unexpectedly taken a new twist. As pointed out to us (Deandra de Looff, many thanks!), the name of 'Ons Belang' was not only that of the local straw board factory, but also that of a temporary internment camp for men and women arrested for collaboration with the Germans. In fact, the camp was 'opened' on 7th May, some three weeks after the liberation of the area, and remained in use well into 1946. The camp was located on the premises of the straw carton factory, 'Ons Belang', hence of course the name of the camp. The initials J.K. that were embroidered on the kerchief, as we initially read them, could in fact also be read as I.K., for 'Internerings Kamp', as Deandra de Looff suggested. Furthermore, the embroidered names, as suggested by another correspondent, are not local, and likely represent people from outside Stadskanaal (thank you, Jacco Pranger).
The dates on the kerchief, which could be read as 17 May 1945 and 5 September 1945, may have been of great importance to the camp, the internees or their guards.
We will continue this intriguing piece of research, based on a simple handkerchief given to us by the owner of a local Leiden curio shop. It may well reflect a darker and hidden aspect of Dutch post-war history. We will keep you posted.
Gillian and Willem Vogelsang, 12 April 2015