Father B.J. Baars, the head of the Wittem subdistrict of the LO, was the victim of an infiltration in the military hospital in his monastery by a German sergeant, a certain Lambertz from Aachen, who stated that he wanted to desert because he was such a good Christian. At first he was possibly even sincere about it. This infiltration was followed, on July 21, 1944, by a wave of arrests that would soon be called the “Strike of Wittem”: P. Horbach, H.J.D. Hamers, J.M.W. Bisschoff, Father Baars, J.H. van Houtem, Ortmans, the brothers E.A.H.M. and J.M.H. Merckelbach, the man in hiding G. Pirovano, the vicars P.H.H. Houben and L.M.H. Penders and two uninvolved inhabitants of Vaals. The vicars Wermeling and Franck as well as A. Noppeney escaped. J. Merckelbach and the two residents of Vaals were released after a few days. The others were transported from Maastricht to Vught on August 1 and five days later to Sachsenhausen, from where they were distributed among several camps. Only three of the ten prisoners survived the camps. The others died in Germany: H.J.D. Hamers (Oranienburg, 29-12-1944), J.M.W. Bisschoff (Buchenwald, 23-4-1945). B.J. Baars (Bergen-Belsen, 27-4-1945), J.H. van Houtem (Lübeck, 28-5-1945), L.M.H. Penders (Bergen-Belsen, 24-4-1945), P.H.H. Houben (Ludwigslust, 19-5-1945) and E.A.H.M. Merckelbach (Neuengamme, 15-1-1945).
|Wittem - L.O. - Father B.J. Baars C.s.s.R. was subdistrict leader of the LO-Wittem, which belonged to the district of Gulpen. The district meetings took place alternately in the house of the Sisters of Charity in Gulpen, in the convent of the Redemptorist Fathers in Wittem and in the convent of the Franciscan Sisters in Nijswiller. He was arrested at the Strike of Wittem on 21 July 1944.|
wall: right, row 38-01
Hubertus Petrus Hermanus
Eys, gem. Wittem
|Wittem - L.O. - priest - Hubertus Petrus Hermanus Houben was vicar in Epen and head of the Catholic Action. He administered charity funds in the L.O. district of Gulpen, along with the vicars Wermeling and Penders and with Jaques Knops and Sjeng Coenen, until Penders took it over alone. He was arrested at the Strike of Wittem on July 21, 1944. Shortly after his liberation, he died in Ludwigslust (Mecklenburg) as a result of his ordeal in the Neuengamme concentration camp. Buried in the Catholic cemetery in Eys.|
wall: right, row 39-05
|Wittem - L.O. - local contact - Sjeng van Houtem from Wylré was an auto mechanic an there local contact person between the people in hiding and the subdistrict of the L.O. (local contact: duikhoofd). He was arrested on July 21, 1944 at the Strike of Wittem and via Maastricht he was taken to Vught concentration camp. He later ended up in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg. As the Russians got closer, the SS sent their prisoners further and further into Germany. These murderous journeys were not called death marches for nothing. He was freed by the Russians in the Wittstock forest.|
His condition was very bad at the time. On May 6, 1945, the Swedish Red Cross took him to an emergency hospital in Lübeck, which had been liberated by the British on May 2. He died there on the 28th. He was first buried in the "Vorwerker Friedhof" in Lübeck. Almost 3,000 dead from concentration camps, Germans, Dutch, Poles, Estonians, Latvians, Ukrainians and Russians lie in this cemetery. He was reburied in the Catholic cemetery of Wylré.
wall: right, row 38-05
Emilius Antonius Hubertus Maria
|Wittem - L.O. - Emile Merckelbach was a member of the Provinciale Staten (Provincial Parliament) of Limburg and chairman of the Coöperatieve Veilingvereeniging Kring Gulpen (Cooperative Auction Association for Agricultural Products, District of Gulpen). On July 21, 1944, he too was arrested as a member of the L.O. at the Klap van Wittem, in which the L.O. of the district of Gulpen was dealt a severe blow. His brother J.M.H. Merckelbach was also arrested, but was released after a few days.|
According to oorloggravenstichting.nl Emile died on December 15, 1944, according to Cammaert and vriendenkringneuengamme.nl on January 15, 1945.
wall: right, row 38-02
|Wittem - Joseph Marie Hubertus Wauthlé was a lathe operator. Tried to escape to England, but was caught at the French-Swiss border. During forced labor he expressed his opinion too openly, as a result of which he was sentenced to death. In the German death certificate execution is given as the cause of death.|
Do you know more? Write us!
wall: right, row 38-03