Sunday, 29 April 1945

Emil Hermann GmbH & Co KG: Exemption Gerardus van der Broek

Emil Hermann GmbH&Co KG: Exemption Gerardus van der Broek

While the Rotes Rathaus ("Red City Hall") is already being stormed in the city centre, Soviet troops in northwest Berlin are advancing on the ruins of Charlottenburg Palace and occupying the Jungfernheide S-Bahn station. At Saatwinkler Damm 42/43 the war ends for the Dutch forced laborer Gerardus van der Broek. He had spent the last nights here in the factory of Emil Hermann GmbH & Co KG. His accommodation at Kreuzberger Obentrautstraße 33 was no longer accessible due to the fightings.

Born in 1922 in Delft in the Netherlands, van der Broek was conscripted to Berlin in May 1943. He is first sent to the Rehbrücke transit camp in Potsdam. The authorities assign him to work at the Daimler Benz AG plants in Berlin-Marienfelde. Here he lived in various accommodations, tents and barracks. In August 1943, after an air raid on the camp, van der Broek tries to escape but is apprehended in Leipzig and has to return to Berlin.
During an air raid in November, the camp of the Daimler factory is completely destroyed. Van der Broek now has to work in the office of Emil Hermann GmbH, founded in 1855 as a "colonial product trading company" at Saatwinkler Damm. He lives in an apartment of the company in Obentrautstraße. The administration of Gedelag AG (Association of German Food Wholesalers) is also located here. Van der Broek gets to work by public transport.

An interesting contemporary historical document is van der Broek's notebook from the time in Berlin. From May 1943 to the beginning of April 1945, he documents the exact dates of air alarms and attacks, as well as all parcels received in Berlin and the loss of personal effects after bombings.

After returning on foot, Gerardus van der Broek reached the Netherlands on 16 June 1945. Three days later he returns to his home town of Delft.

(Source: report by Ton van der Broek)