IJzerdraat, Bernardus, born 13-10-1891 in Haarlem. He was a tapestry restorer from Rotterdam, as he became involved as early as 1936 in the Eenheid door Democratie movement which opposed Fascism and Communism. He had been a teacher in manual skills and writing, at the teacher training school in Rotterdam. IJzerdraat started his own art weaving school in Laren, but because of crisis in the 1930s, he had to close the school.
Immediately after the bombing of Rotterdam , with about 650 deaths and the destroying of the center of the city, during the German invasion in 1940 , he set up the first Dutch resistance group, De Geuzen, and published the Geuzenbericht, a resistance pamphlet, the very next day . He foresaw “a new Alva soon, with blood council and inquisition“. In line with this comparison with the Eighty Years’ War, he named his resistance ‘Geuzenactie’ (Beggars’ action). They warned from the beginning for the pro German propaganda of the NSB
, the Dutch National Socialistic Party of Anton Mussert and Kees van Geelkerken.
By spreading his Geuzen message (a chain letter) he hoped to form a Geuzen army. On May 18th 940 his first appeal appeared in the papers, the Geuzen magazine, IJzerdraat found allies in Jan Kijne and Piet van der Harst from Vlaardingen and Arij Kop . The men agreed that the Germans had to be sabotaged and spied on, and that information had to be passed on to England. Jan Kijne was executed age 46 on 13-03-1941 and buried on the cemetery Emaus in Vlaardingen. Van der Harst was captured in 1942 by the SD and landed in the concentration camp Buchenwald, but survived the war. He had to recover for a long time in a santorium and died old age 87 on 07-06-2007 in Vlaardingen and buried on the cemetery Holy in Vlaardingen. Arij Kop was executed on the Waalsdopervlakte age 39 and also buried on the cemetery Emaus in Vlaardingen.
After the foundation, the organization was not in command of weapons. It was decided to make clubs and a revolver was stolen from a German soldier. Such activities were not of high priority though, because the most important objectives were sabotage and collecting information. Data were gathered about German troops, headquarters and ships in the harbor. Lists of NSB members and ‘moffenmeiden’ (term of abuse for Dutch girls who had relations with Germans) were also drawn up . After the war the heads of the women who slept with Nazi soldiers were shaven and signed with swastika’s. Sabotage was committed, though on a small scale. The telephone lines which connected the searchlight installations and the anti-aircraft guns in Vlaardingen were destroyed seven times in 1940. Through an appeal in the local paper and posters, the occupier made clear in September that year that “the German Wehrmacht would employ the toughest measures to the city of Vlaardingen and its inhabitants”. When a saboteur was caught red-handed, live ammunition would be fired immediately. After this, it was decided to stop the acts of sabotage.
The leaders of the Geuzen hoped to acquire a large resistance group through their chain letters, which did happen. Soon, armies were created in Rotterdam, Maassluis, Delft, Zwijndrecht and Dordrecht. They had hundreds of members.
Death and burial ground of IJzerdraat, Bernard.
Ijzerdraad on drums.
Bernardus Ijzerdraat was arrested by the SD on 25-11-1940 together with other members of his group when the Germans discovered a list of names and addresses at his home. Eighteen members were captured in the so called Geuzen Process. Three of them were minor and escaped the deat penalty. Their place was taken up by three communist involved in the February Strike. After a show trial, the German Reichsminister Dr. Hans Lammers approved the executions of the Geuzen, the Group Bernard Ijzerdraat, he age 49 and 17 other were shot at the Scheveningen Waalsdorpervlakte on 13-03-1941.
It was the first mass execution in the Netherlands. The fusilladed men were buried at the Waalsdorpervlakte by the occupier. At that time, another 157 Geuzen were held captive in the Oranjehotel. They were eventually sent to various concentration camps. 63 of them did not survive the imprisonment. Some of these victims, as Bernard Ijzerdraat are reburied on the Netherlands Field of Honor in Loenen now.