Wilhelm Gerards (Willi)
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Wilhelm Gerards is listed in the Resistance Memorial on the
central wall, row 07 #01


Limburg 1940-1945,
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Wilhelm Gerards (Willi)


 04-11-1907 Bottrop (D)      24-07-1942 Heerlen (34)
- Underground Press - Heerlen - Communists & Sympathizers -

    Wilhelm Gerards was born in Bottrop (D) to parents from Heerlen and had Dutch citizenship since birth. His father was a miner there. When he was less than two years old, his parents returned to the Netherlands with their little Willi. [2#8] He became a bricklayer by profession. [2#2]
    He was a member of the CPN [2] and chief distributor of De Vonk in Nieuwenhagen, Ubach over Worms and Schaesberg. He received the newspapers from Heerlen from Sjoerd Rinzema. [3]
    Willi Gerards was first arrested in connection with the February Strike on March 1, 1941. [4]
    In addition to arrests resulting from pre-arranged raids, some De Vonk distributors also fell into German hands through treachery or by accident. This happened to H. Keesman and W. Gerards on September 12 and in December 1941. Gerards was soon released again due to lack of evidence. [3]
    In connection with the theft of a bicycle, the Schaesberg police detained De Vonk distributor F.E. Scheper from W. Gerards’ group on May 29, 1942. Scheper was subsequently suspected of smuggling and a search of his house took place. [3]
    Dozens of De Vonk distributors from Schaesberg, Nieuwenhagen, Heerlen and Ubach over Worms were rounded up during Saturday, May 30, 1942. The entire organization collapsed. Several detainees underwent exceptionally harsh interrogations and were severely mistreated by Nitsch and his chief M. Strobel. [3]
    The chief of police in Heerlen wrote about him to the OGS: The mentioned Wilhelm Gerards ... who was arrested in Heerlerheide around July 22, 1942 by order of the SD, was shot during an attempt to escape, as a result of which he died on July 24, 1942 in the St. Joseph Hospital in Heerlen. [2#3]
    Other sources give a more precise date for his arrest.
    On August 17, 1942, the SiPo stopped Gerards one more in Heerlerheide while he was distributing the illegal magazine De Vonk. He was shot down when he tried to escape and died in the hospital. According to the Oorlogsgravenstichting (War Graves Foundation) [6] and wo2slachtoffers.nl [4] he died on July 24, 1942.
    He was cremated in Velsen, his ashes scattered there.
    Wilhelm ( Willi ) Gerards is listed in the Erelijst 1940-1945 (Honor Roll of the Dutch Parliament). [5]

    Footnotes

    1. Archief Oorlogsgravenstichting (@ Nationaal archief), Dossier Wilhelm Gerards
      #2#8
    2. Archief CPN (Communistische Partij Nederland), Limburg. Wilhelm Gerards: IMAGE 8
    3. Dr. F. Cammaert, Het Verborgen Front – Geschiedenis van de georganiseerde illegaliteit in de provincie Limburg tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Doctorale scriptie 1994, Groningen
      10. De C.P.N. en de illegaliteit, p.1002-1003
    4. wo2slachtoffers.nl/ Wilhelm Gerards
    5. Erelijst 1940-1945
    6. Oorlogsgravenstichting.nl