Search for unknown family story in podcast ‘The arrest of a Coevorer resistance group

The family knew that Willem Mantel had been part of the resistance in Coevorden during the Second World War. But nobody really knew what he was doing. Podcast maker Freek Schröder dives into a piece of unknown family history to unravel the story of his great-grandfather.

“All I knew was that he had been in the resistance,” Schröder tells about Willem Mantel in the Radio Drenthe program Drenthe Toen. In the podcast ‘The arrest of a Coevorder resistance group’ he takes the listener along in his search for the acts of resistance of his mother’s grandfather.


Schröder begins by mapping out his family history. “From there I went on to find out more about him,” he refers to Mantel. “He was born in Delft and also studied in Delft. He worked at the NS and became a teacher at the Rijks-HBS in Assen,” he says in the radio studio, which is located in the former Rijks-HBS.

In 1934 Mantel became director of the Rijks-HBS in Coevorden. Six years later, when the Germans invade the Netherlands, he serves in the army that does not last long. “He goes back to Coevorden. In 1942 he is asked to join the resistance,” says Schröder.


“My family itself knows little about the resistance.” And so the podcast maker has to go to other families for stories about the resistance. That is how he ends up with the Hartemink family. The two Hartemink brothers from Dalen are in the resistance together with Mantel. “The family farm from 1937 is still there in Dalen. The nephew of the Hartemink brothers lives there. I visited him, he told me what he remembers about his uncles and my great-grandfather.”

In this way, Schröder also discovers a part of the Netherlands unknown to him, because the Amsterdammer, who was born in Delft, was not familiar with the area. The nephew of the Harteminks tells of a weapons transport from the farm, in which the horse has to pull ‘gloepens hard’ to pull the heavily loaded cart.

There are also people in hiding on the farm. In his search, Schröder tracks down one of them. A Reformed boy from Rotterdam is placed with the Reformed peasant society in the countryside. “During the war he was a boy of ten, eventually fifteen. I called him and it turned out that he had never talked about it. He is glad he was able to talk about it. He played an important role on the farm at the wave of arrests.”


During the arrest wave of the Landwacht in 1945, dozens of resistance fighters were arrested in Southeast Drenthe. On January 8, engineer Willem Mantel is arrested. “Eventually he ends up in prison in Assen and he is taken to the Woeste Hoeve near Apeldoorn. There he is executed as a reprisal after the attack on the German general Rauter,” says Schröder. The Hartemink brothers are also among the 117 people who are put in front of the firing squad there.

Mantel’s body is buried in a mass grave, reburied in Coevorden and finally moved to the honorary cemetery in Loenen.

The arrest of a Coevorder resistance group can be heard in various podcast apps such as Spotify.