The resistance of Truus van Lier
Growing up on the outskirts of Utrecht
Geetruida van Lier was born on April 22, 1921, near the house at Prins Hendriklaan 50. During her early childhood she would move here with her parents and older sister Miek. She spent her childhood and teenage years there. At the time, this house was still on the outskirts of Utrecht, with a view of the meadows around the city, and diagonally opposite the Kromhout barracks. Truus grew up in a loving, liberal and well-to-do family. The Van Liers were a Jewish family who had lived in Utrecht for centuries. It was a family full of doctors, lawyers and scientists. Truus' father, Wim van Lier, was a lawyer and worked at the Utrechtsche Hypotheekbank, together with his brother Alfred. Her mother Derkje was a successful biochemist and worked as a married woman, quite exceptional for her time. Later, when Wim's health deteriorated drastically, Derkje would become a housewife, being there for her family was her priority. But she certainly did not have a housewife future in mind for her daughters Truus and Miek.
When Truus was 19, the Second World War broke out. She had just graduated from secondary school in 1940 and was about to start her studies in Law at the University of Utrecht. She wouldn't be studying Law for a long time, Truus had other priorities. She soon exchanged her studies for a fight for justice and became involved in the organized resistance.
Truus has a gun
Truus was a member of the student association U.V.S.V. Through her student friends she came into contact with a student resistance group in Amsterdam. She got to know Leo Frijda and the brothers Gideon (Gi) and Jan Karel (Janka) Boissevain, the sons of resistance fighter Mies Boissevain-van Lennep. The brothers were members of the armed resistance group CS-6, Truus would also become an important member of this group. The parental home of Gi and Janka at 6 Corellistraat in Amsterdam formed the base of the group. The weapons and explosives used by the group were also stored here. CS-6 committed several attacks on police officers and collaborators, the most famous of which is the successful attack on the absolutely despised General Hendrik Seyffardt. Truus had once started out by hiding fugitives from the regime and conveying secret messages, but at CS-6 she learned to fight back with fire. Truus van Lier became Truus van Veen, who learned how to shoot and how to handle hand grenades. That was not for show.
The last job
Truus took on the task of assassinating the chief commissioner of the police in Utrecht, Gerard Kerlen. As chief of police, he was responsible for the Utrecht police, which was known to be 'fout', to collaborate with the enemy. There was even a special task force created specifically for maintaining the persecution of the Jews. This task force called the Central Control, popularly known as the 'Jewish team', arrested Jewish people in hiding on the orders of Kerlen or the Sicherheitsdienst and deported them. For Truus and CS-6 it was simple: Kerlen made the persecution of Jews in Utrecht possible, he had to die.
It was 1943, many members of the resistance had already been arrested or killed. The resistance and the German secret police, the Sicherheitsdienst, became increasingly fierce and violent. Resisting became more risky by the day. Therefore, Truus prepared her attack well. She shadowed Kerlen for weeks and memorized his route from the Paardenveld police station to his home on the street Willemsplantsoen. On September 3, 1943, Truus committed her greatest act of resistance, which would become a pyrrhic victory. She waited for Kerlen at the end of Walsteeg, near his house, and fired. Twice. Two direct hits. Kerlen died on the street in the arms of his devastated wife Alida. Truus escaped on her bicycle. For a long time it would remain a mystery who had committed this attack. Truus was the first woman to single-handedly kill a Nazi. A price of 10,000 guilders (now 70,000 euros!) was put on the head of the perpetrator. That prize was collected.
Truus was betrayed by a woman from CS-6. It was Irma Seelig, Leo Frijda's Jewish fiancé. Irma was arrested and put under pressure by the Sicherheitsdienst during her interrogation. In exchange for the names of other resistance members, she and Leo, also in the hands of the SD, would be spared. Irma broke and betrayed the others. It was in vain, Leo was executed in Overveen. Truus was clueless and could not escape, Irma tricked her and led her to her arrest. Truus was interrogated and confessed everything to keep her fellow resistance members out of harm's way. Women were more often spared from severe torture and execution, so it was better if the Germans thought that Truus had done even more than she actually did. At least, that was the idea. But it was 1943, and everything hardened, including the persecution of the resistance. Truus was deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, together with fellow resistance members Reina Prinsen Geerligs and Nel Hissink. There, the three women were executed by firing squad on October 27, 1945. Truus was only 22 years old.
Together with other members of the resistance, Truus contributed to the fight against Nazism, hatred and dictatorship. Her resistance is still alive in Utrecht, Truus has not been forgotten. At the site of the attack, on the Willemsplantsoen, is a statue and every year daffodils bloom there in the name of TRUUS on the waterfront. There is a Stolpersteine in front of Prins Hendriklaan 50 and there is a Truus van Lierlaan near the Jaarbeurs. But the most important part of remembering are people like you, who read Truus' story and pass it along.