May 7th, 1945. Two days earlier the German army officially surrendered
to the Allied forces, and the Second World War in Europe was over.
After suffering five long years of German occupation and a winter with
extreme food shortage (elderly Dutchmen still speak of the famine of
"de hongerwinter"), the residents of Amsterdam celebrated at "the Dam",
the central plaza in Amsterdam, with happy music played by one of the
still-working Dutch street organs named "het Snotneusje".
The liberation festivities irritated a group of disgruntled German
SS soldiers who were drinking in their "Grote Club" (on the corner of
the Kalverstraat and the Dam) and wondering about their future. That
afternoon they went outside with their machine guns and fired random
salvos at the crowd. Several people were killed and many were wounded.
By sheer luck the organ grinder, who was working on the side of the
organ facing the gunners, managed to get behind his instrument himself.
Onlookers ran, and dozens of people took cover behind the street organ,
which was then riddled with machine gun bullets.
According to my dictionary the word 'snotneusje' should be translated
as 'snotty nose'. Figuratively, the word means something like brat,
urchin, or whipper-snapper -- take your pick. The organ was rather
small but loudly voiced ! (-:
The draaiorgel "het Snotneusje" is known to be the bravest organ of the
Netherlands, and it is now preserved in the Amsterdam Historic museum.
Hans Van Oost
[ Thanks for the remarkable story, Hans, and for the dramatic photo
[ of the panic at the plaza. I'll place them at the MMD Pictures site.
[ -- Robbie