Strikes in protest against the German occupier cost Willem Kraan his life

Just before his execution, on November 19, 1942 at Soesterberg airfield, 33-year-old Kraan wrote a poignant farewell letter to his wife Bets and daughter Catrientje. He showed himself to be militant. “I’ll be a Crane until the last second and I hope that all of you, especially you Beth, will live up to that name,” he wrote.

He also called on his wife to tell their young daughter in later life why he had died. “And you probably do hear Bets, because otherwise she would still be ashamed of her daddy, and that is not necessary, because I am not a traitor, I am falling for my ideal and I hope that this is not in vain.”

High price

After Willem’s death, Bets and Catrientje were left in great poverty. The grief over his death has left deep marks, right down to the present generation. His family is proud of what he has done, but the price was high. “What if he hadn’t done it?” Granddaughter Ellen Hettinga wonders. “Then my grandmother could probably have had a normal family life.”

Willem Kraan was posthumously awarded the Yad Vashem award ‘Righteous among the Nations’ in 1966 for his role in the February strike of 1941.

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