A Forgotten Piece of History Remembered Again in the Sequel to The Hidden Village
The story of what happened in the Veluwe woods 75 years ago continues to intrigue me long after I finished writing The Hidden Village. I visit the place at least once a year when on holiday and it seems only right that I keep writing about the extraordinary stories associated with the real hidden village.
Het Verscholen Dorplies deep in the woods just outside the village of Vierhouten. There are now signposts along the cycle paths that lead to it, but it’s easy to miss.
I’d been cycling past the place for nearly 20 years before I noticed the stone commemorating its existence. You have to search for the reconstructed underground huts scattered across the area as they are buried beneath branches and foliage.
An information board at the “entrance” gives some information, but how many people know about the sacrifices made by these ordinary people to keep this group of Jews safe from the Germans?
Initially, my research didn’t throw up much other than what was written on that information board. After much googling, I came across an out-of-print book on bol.com by A.Visser, a man who pulled together archive material about the building of the village and conducted interviews with people associated with it. It was a goldmine of information and gave me so much insight into how a local community pulled together to build this woodland village in an act of defiance against the Germans. It was hard to understand why this book was no longer in print and that there was little else written about the place.
Then, six months after The Hidden Village was published, I was in a bookshop in Nunspeet when I came across a new edition of A.Visser’s book. The original material was as I remembered it, but now included many new stories which have since come to light.
This updated record of events provided me with a backdrop for the sequel to The Hidden Village and picks up the story at the point that the village is ambushed by the Germans.
I made more trips back into the Veluwe woods to soak up the atmosphere and imagine what life must have been like for these people, knowing that one slip could cost them their lives.