1945 Liberation

1944 bevrijding eindhoven.jpg 

On 18 September 1944 the English army enters Eindhoven.

Following the liberation of the area around Eindhoven, Dr. Betty Levie, the radiologist from the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), no longer needs to remain in hiding. She presents herself at a Red Cross branch of the American army in Eindhoven and is assigned the care of wounded civilians [36]. However, she cannot yet travel to Amsterdam. The allied forces underestimate the power of the German defences. They are turned back in operation Market Garden while attempting to make a quick advance across the Rhine, the Maas and the Waal rivers. In 1944, it was not yet possible to liberate The Netherlands north of these great rivers. As a result, there follows a long hard winter of shortages and hardships for the large cities in the West of the Netherlands. At the NKI everything was in short supply. The electricity supply is cut off and, for some time, patients can only be treated with radium. In the area around the Sarphatistraat, the German Wehrmacht and Orndnungspolizei barricade themselves around the Colonial Institute and the Oosterpark. The expectation is that the NKI will lie within the combat zone. Valuable X-ray machines are dismantled and protected under a thick layer of sand. In the winter famine of 1944-45, many carefully bred laboratory animals die of cold and malnutrition. 

In the Spring of 1945, the war front resumes its advance. Betty Levie travels with the Red Cross to the West leading a mobile medical team, which gives assistance to the victims of the winter famine. On 5 May 1945, The Netherlands is liberated. In the AVL things start to pick up. In the annual report, Wassink writes: "To our great relief, it appeared after the liberation, that our former employees, Dr. N. WATERMAN and Dr. B. LEVIE, who had greatly suffered under the restrictive measures imposed by the occupiers of our country, have managed to overcome this great ordeal and were able to report for duty ….. while Miss Levie, who in the mean time has decided to move abroad, has chosen to work in the Institute of Rotterdam during the time that she remains in the Netherlands". Betty Levie, who had already in the '30's cherished the Zionist ideal, left shortly afterwards for Israel. 

Prompt action was taken to replenish the Radium supply. During the period when The Netherlands was still under Canadian administration and trains were not yet running, representatives from the NKI travelled to Brussels to negotiate with the military authorities the release of Radium from the Union Minière. On the way, they stopped in Eindhoven and discussed with Philips the possibility of a rapid modernization of the diagnostic X-ray machines "and orders were placed with an eye on the future".



Bronnen & Publicaties

  • [36] Witness account for Yad Vashem Archives by Prof. Dr. Betty Levie, Januari 1975, record group 0.3, file nr 3968. Original Hebrew, English translation. ,