Friedrich Franz Carl (1894)
Julius Friedrich Wilhelm (1919)
In the book “Jaren van Verduistering” (translated: Years of Blackout), Tini Visser describes in a clear and readable way the German occupation years of Amstelveen (a city very closely situated to Amsterdam). In this book, considerable attention is paid to the illegal activities of Carel Baller (born 1894) and his son Juul Baller (born 1919). Because this was a significant period in their lives, they deserve some attention.
F.F.C. (Carel) Baller
Carel was a member of the Amstelveens Gereformeerd Herstelverband Gemeente (Reformed Reinstituted Church). Live became growingly difficult during the first years of the occupation. In the beginning of 1942 clergymen were regularly arrested, imprisoned and then released after a few weeks. In the beginning of February 1942, pastor Hinlopen was informed by pastor Van Endt that the ‘Sicherheitsdienst’ wanted to arrest him. Pastor Hinlopen did not want to hide and expected that once arrested, he would be released in a couple of weeks. However, this was not the case. At the 20th of April (Hitlers birthday), pastor Hinlopen was amongst the first pastors to be deported to Sachsenhausen. After it became known that he was deported, Carel Baller and mr. Gerarts took over parts of his tasks.
When a Jewish family that used to live in Amstelveen, but were now imprisoned in concentration camp Westerbork requested help in obtaining baptism certificates, Carel falsified the the church records and send the baptism certificates to the family. Little is known about the other resistance activities employed by the small church community.
During the later years of the occupation period, less and less food was available for the people living in Amstelveen and Amsterdam. By searching for food together, members of different churches in the area got to know each other better and started to trust more on each other. After a while a combined interdenominational purchase committee containing both Catholic and Protestant church members was established. As far as we know, Carel was one of the founding members of this food purchase committee. The food was, amongst other places, bought in Friesland and brought to Amstelveen with two trucks. It was often heavy journeys full of problems. Food was also brought to the cities by ship.
The churches often gave the food to the poorest inhabitants of Amstelveen. Juul transformed his house into a centre where everyone could bring their surplus food. The food was then redistributed to people with a doctor’s note. The food was also given to people in hiding. This was all done completely illegal.
Before the second World War broke out, Juul worked at a shipping office in Amsterdam. After the company was shut down, Juul started working at the rationing service in Amstelveen. Most employees here used to work at Schiphol airport or other companies that were closed. People working at the rationing service, part of the ‘population department’, were anti-German. In an important service like the rationing service, this had certain consequences. Juul did not feel like a German. Both he and his father were born in Amsterdam and felt Dutch. They could not understand how Germans could do all this.
In 1941 some people working at the rationing service and those at the population department started working together really well. There was always a tensed situation: people could come to the counter with a ‘special request’, but there were also NSBers (pro-German Dutch citizens) at both services. Sometimes civil servants were approached at home with a request to illegally distribute identity cards and ration cards. At the start these requests mostly came from Jews. They tried to help the Jews from Amstelveen as much as they could.
During 1942, more and more civil servants started to contribute to the resistance movement. Juul, but also his father Carel, falsified many identity cards. The civil servants became increasingly important in the movement, because they could distort the German systems.
By 1943, the rationing service had grown to approximately 30 servants. Besides the anti-Germans, two pro-Germans were present. The rationing cards were distributed every four weeks at different spots in Amstelveen, Nes, Duivendrecht and Ouderkerk. Every week, rationing cards that were used were handed in at the rationing service in order to buy new supplies. At this point in time Juul was working at the service providing medical care. He handed out extra rationing cards to the sick. One service was never dicussed: the secret care for Jewish and non-Jewish people in hiding.
Duos were created of civil servants who helped and supported each other. One of these duos was Ben Schutte from the population department and Juul from the rationing service. They worked under the code name ‘B2’ (Ben and Baller). Juul had a contact in The Hague who made sure that every stack of rationing cards contained 500 extra cards. One part of it was given to Carel to distribute in his own network, while another part was given to mr. Oranje (a fellow civil servant), and a third part went to a tobacco shop at the Amstelveenseweg. Juul himself took the train with the cards to bring them. One day, when he left the train at the station (Haarlemmermeerstation) he was stopped. But at that day he luckily only brought a cake.
After a while, civil servants knew from each other whether they supported the resistance movement or not. The amount of people in hiding grew, which made falsifying papers and cards more difficult. The pressure on the civil servants increased throughout the country. That is when the raids on the population register started.
During 1944, a raid in Amstelveen was prepared. They decided the most suitable moment by looking at the moment in the month when the largest amount of rationing cards would be present: when the old stack was not empty yet, but the new one had already been delivered. The cards were meant for the people working in the resistance movement and the Jewish in hiding. The raid was executed by the Feyenoord group, existing of some people from Rotterdam and some from Amsterdam. The chief of the population register, Van Damme, knew of the raid. Juul was acting chief and also knew what was about to happen. The raid was planned in the night between 25 and 26 July. Before that evening, all identity cards from men between 18 and 50 years old were taken from the register and put aside. Using a black hearse, the Feyenoord group gained a large loot: the rationing cards for two months for the region (40000 ration cards). They also took the entire population register including 515 blank, rubber stamps etc. The hearse was too heavily loaded, because after some kilometres it broke down. The Van de Leest family helped out.
The next day 3 civil servants did not show up for work: Juul Baller, Picard and Ben Schutte. They had been warned that a pro-German civil servant had declared that they were involved in the raid. The same afternoon a motorcycle with sidecar showed up at the house of Juul and Ali Baller. Juul was in the sidecar, and an unknown man walked up to Ali. Juul waved that it was all right. It turned out that the unknown man was a disguised Anton van der Hurk. He came to pick up the rubber stamps. In the end the raid was a success without anyone getting hurt. The rationing cards went to people in hiding throughout the country, but a part stayed behind in Amstelveen. During the days afted the raid, civil servants used the chaos to destroy even more identity cards and place falsified cards between the real cards. The Baller and Schutte families went into a temporary hiding. Juul and Ali Baller went to Loenen at the Veluwe (on the other side of the country). They lived in the house of two older ladies together with their little son Carel (born 9 March 1944) until ‘Mad Tuesday’. The house of Ben Schutte was first confiscated and then completely stripped of all possessions. The house of Juul and Ali remained untouched (no one knows why).
During the war many illegal newspapers were established, e.g. the Christian, countrywide paper ‘Ons Vrij Nederland’ (Our Free Holland). This paper was headed by pastor Van Nood. Juul distributed the paper. Later Van Nood started another illegal paper ‘Ons Noodrantsoen’ (Our Ration). He did not know that three days earlier ‘Het Laatste Nieuws van Strijdend Nederland’ (The Last News from Militant Holland) was established as well. Both papers were combined into one, because they did not want any competition to arise. Juul did the administration for Amstelveen. For all of these and the not-described illegal activities, Carel and Juul Baller received a Vredesboom (a Freedom Tree) in the Juliana park of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel.
Many thanks go to Ankie Baller for this information