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Mass executions at Twente airport

The Germans took possession of and expanded Twente airport during the war years. It was a terrible time for the people, mostly farmers, who had to leave their farm or home for this expansion. After the war it turned out that the airport was also a place to make people disappear. On July 30, 1944 the ‘Niedermachungsbefehl’ was introduced. Hitler decreed that from that date all form of justice was abolished and anyone guilty of any resistance could be killed without justice. It is not known how many people are involved because there are still people missing. They may have been deported to the infamous camps. Or being shot at the airport and buried in a bomb crater.

Following a confession by the arrested SD-leader Schöber, in October 1947 they started searching at Twente airport on his instructions. The Dutchmen who were shot by the Germans during the war are said to have been buried at the designated spot. The place was located in a remote corner of the airport at the end of the Weerseloseweg. This area then belonged to the municipality of Weerselo. It is a meadow surrounded by barbed wire, far away from the buildings at the airport. This place was surrounded by ruins of Allied bombed shelters. Coincidentally, the places where the victims were found were not bombed in March 1945.

The Identification and Salvage Service from Amersfoort, led by Captain J. Haverman, started a search using dipsticks. They could determine whether bodies were buried by the smell. This Service was later aided by people from the Illegality who took care of the demarcations and the digging of trenches. The bodies found were brought to Amersfoort for identification and the population was called upon to report missing persons and important features. The first bodies found were of three men and three women. Their find was described as follows: they were buried on top of each other at a depth of 1.5 meters. The garments were still recognizable. One woman was wearing a fur coat and a male victim in blue work trousers. A certain scarf was also still in good condition.

When it became known that victims had been found, the attorney-fiscal Mr. W. L. de Walle, Mayor M. van Veen of Enschede and Police Commissioner T.J. from the Wal to the appropriate place. In the end, 12 bodies were exhumed of which one person has not been identified. After further investigation in August 2022, the unknown man was identified as the 35-year-old Gerrit Abraham van Weeren.

These persons were registered in the death register of Enschede in October 1948 following a decision of the Court of Almelo. Geert Schoonman’s father submitted an official request to enter the death of his son in the death register of the municipality of Weerselo. 

Memorial near the airport in Deurningen.

Evers en Schoonman - Zwerver 1947