Klaas van der Land’s Liberation Story (1)

14 August 2019 by Wes Bredenhof

In my last post, I concluded with a brief reference to my maternal grandfather’s involvement in the Liberation of 1944 (75 years ago).  I’m going to follow up and explore that a little further in a couple of blog posts.  I have a few primary source items in my possession that shed some light on what happened with the Liberation in a sleepy corner of the province of Groningen.

Marum is where my mother was born.  It’s right on the border with Friesland — in fact, my Opa was fluent in Frisian.  I visited there in 2004.  My grandparents owned and operated a small shop in the neighbouring village of Nuis.  However, they attended the Reformed Church in Marum.

I have a 1977 Yearbook from the Liberated Reformed Church in Marum.  It came into my possession after my grandfather died.  I believe he received it in the course of some correspondence with Rev. W. Scherff.  He was apparently doing some research about the Liberation in Marum (the church he was serving at the time) and wrote to my grandfather in Canada.  This Yearbook contains an outline of the history of that church.  Please note the entry for October 21, 1945:

Translation:  “Deacon Klaas van der Land liberates himself.  Different people do that after him.  They find ecclesiastical shelter in Kornhorn [another village to the north of Marum].  Church services are started (in the community hall) under the oversight of the consistory in Kornhorn.  The church here was re-instituted on January 12, 1947.”

You might be wondering how a deacon ended up leading the Liberation in this small church.  For example, where did the pastor stand?  The pastor was Rev. S. van Wouwe.  Because of the Second World War, he was out of the picture.  He was what they called an “onderduiker.”  The Nazis had a keen interest in arresting pastors critical of the Third Reich.  Van Wouwe must have been one of those.  He was forced “underground.”  However, even after the war, he didn’t go with the Liberation.  In fact, none of the other office bearers in Marum did either.  Klaas van der Land was completely on his own in terms of leadership.  I don’t know what the size of the congregation was at that time, but we do know that it was a mere 15 communicant members who went with the Liberation in Marum.  According to the 1977 Yearbook, the Marum congregation had grown to 153 members total.

More next time…