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Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema

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  • Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema

    I found this story while perusing the news this morning. I feel that the gentleman's statement at the end is indicative of a man who was truly aware of how fame can be a completely random thing.

    Dutch WWII Hero Roelfzema Dies at 90
    By TOBY STERLING, Associated Press Writer
    4 hours ago

    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - The Dutch World War II resistance hero, Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema _ better known as the "Soldier of Orange" _ died this week at his home in Hawaii, his family said in a death notice published in a Dutch newspaper. He was 90.

    Roelfzema was a student at the University of Leiden when the Nazis occupied the Netherlands, and he later went underground and fled to England, where he carried out numerous missions in the service of the Dutch royal house in exile.

    The notice in De Telegraaf, the nation's largest daily, did not specify the cause of death, but said Roelfzema died in his sleep Wednesday. He will be cremated and an urn with his ashes will be returned to the Netherlands "at a date to be determined later," it said.

    Roelfzema's wartime activities included delivering radio equipment by boat to the Dutch coast and collecting resistance fighters to return to England. He later became a pilot, carrying out 72 target-marking missions in bombing raids against Germany as a member of Britain's Royal Air Force.

    Roelfzema was born in Indonesia in 1917, then a Dutch colony. After the war, he immigrated to the United States, where he worked for various media, including NBC, and in 1955, he returned to Europe to work as a producer for Radio Free Europe.

    His fame in the Netherlands leaped after he published his book, "Soldaat van Oranje" (Soldier of Orange) in 1971. He became known outside the country after the book was made into a film of the same name by director Paul Verhoeven in 1977, starring Rutger Hauer in the title role.

    Roelfzema took a job with energy company Barnwell Industries Inc. in the 1970s, and later convinced the company to move to Hawaii, where it became a major gas and oil developer.

    In an interview with De Telegraaf in July, Roelfzema said he knew that he had received a disproportionate amount of recognition for his wartime exploits.

    He bears a Distinguished Flying Cross from Britain and the Military Order of William in the Netherlands, the country's highest honor, which bestows knighthood for bravery in battle.

    "I became a war hero because I stuck out, because I wrote about my experiences. But behind every soldier decorated with military honors there are a hundred anonymous heroes, some of them greater," he said. "I had the fortune to be recognized, and to grow old."

    He is survived by his wife, Karin; son, Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema Jr.; daughter, Karna Hazelhoff-Castellon; a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter.

    "God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy"

    Billy Currington

  • #2
    Soldier of Orange

    Thanks for posting this cst784.

    Slowly but surely all these men who are my WW2 heroes pass away: Fitzroy Maclean, Churchill's liaison to Tito's partisans in Yugoslavia; now Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, Dutch resistance hero from Holland and I fear that soon we will learn of the demise of Patric Leigh Fermor who together with partisans kidnapped general Kneipe from Crete.

    IMO Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema is the best know wartime hero in Holland no doubt through the highly successful movie Paul Verhoeven made of EHR's book. In this movie, 'Soldier of Orange' EHR is followed from his student days at Leiden university through WW2.
    This man had a 'good war' as far as such a thing is possible. Resistance activities of him and his student friends first took the form of pranks against Germans but he really got down to business after managing to cross over to England. From here his resistance career escaped the dangerous, dreary character that 'normal' resistance work normally entails.
    In wartime London, he became good friends with Dutch Queen Wilhelmina and her son in law, Prince Bernhard, who was leader of the Dutch forces. EHR learned how to fly from Prince Bernhard, in EHR's words the most dangerous episode in his life as the prince only had learned how to fly two weeks earlier. EHR crossed over the North Sea a couple of times afterwards to liaise between Dutch resistance and the government in London. What he did both in Holland and England is admirably covered in 'Soldier of Orange'. My favorite scene is where EHR, played by Rutger Hauer, dressed as a German officer, out-arrogances a suspicious German guard who wants to have a look at his papers.

    After the war Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema with his war hero status and close connections to the Royal Court could have any position he wanted in rising Holland, instead he chose to live in the USA. Being the man who he was, EHR was shortly involved in the failed effort to create an autonomous Moluccan Republic after Indonesia had become independent from the Netherlands.

    Last edited by Colonel Sennef; 29 Sep 07, 12:05.

    You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.


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