Dutch ID resistance man 77 years after death using relatives’s DNA

  • A DNA match has identified the remains of a man found after WWII near a Nazi prison in the Netherlands.
  • The man had been identified as Kees Kreukniet.
  • He was named after a DNA match with his great-nephew.

The remains of a man found after World War II in a mass grave outside one of the Netherlands’ most notorious Nazi prisons have been identified through a DNA match with a living relative, investigators said on Saturday.

Dutch military and civil examiners named the man as Cornelis Pieter “Kees” Kreukniet, aged around 50, after an investigation located his great-nephew using DNA.

“The victim could finally be identified as Kees Kreukniet, who was shot by a firing squad outside the Scheveningen prison” in late 1944, said Ronald Klomp, chairman of a Hague-based foundation dedicated to tracing missing war victims.

The search to identify Kreukniets’s remains makes for a great detective story: through scraps of clothing on the remains, Klomp’s foundation found the name of a clothes shop close to where Kreukniet lived until his arrest in The Hague in October 1944.

They also traced his name in a so-called death book of people who died at the Scheveningen prison, known as the “Orange Hotel” because of the thousands of pro-Dutch resistance members locked up there.

Klomp told AFP:

The book gave his cause of death as pneumonia, but our investigation showed he was executed by firing squad and dumped into a mass grave.

Through his clothing and dental records, a Dutch army unit dedicated to the tracing and reinterment of WWII remains, found a relative and did a DNA test – which matched.

Kreukniet’s story could then be told: he was involved in printing a Hague-based resistance leaflet called “Ons Ochtendblad”, distributed by Hague municipal workers at the time.

Nazi forces occupied the Netherlands between 1940-45, prompting the Dutch royal family to flee to Britain in exile shortly after the Germans invaded on 10 May 1940.

Kreukniet was arrested when a consignment of paper was accidentally delivered to the wrong address and the Nazi secret service was tipped off, national NOS news broadcaster reported.

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Like many others, he disappeared without a trace after his arrest.

His and the remains of eight other victims were first discovered in 1947 and buried as “Unknown Dutch”.

In 2012, he was reburied – his identity still unknown – until an investigation by the Dutch military unit looking into identifying the remains was contacted by Klomp’s foundation and together the puzzle was solved.

“I’m glad to finally know what happened to my great-uncle,” relative Joop Kreukniet, who donated the DNA, told the NOS.

“It’s not a positive story. But it does bring a certain relief to know what happened there,” Kreukniet said.

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