YOUR RADIO OR YOUR LIFE
Bright red faces
Suddenly in August, German policemen came to the door, a certain Commander Weber accompanied by two sergeants. They had come to confiscate a radio and a motorbike, they informed Beks. ‘I sold them last year’, he lied with a straight face. Weber and his men did not believe him. They searched the entire house, the longer it took the more angry they became: they knew for certain that they were going to find something. They handcuffed Jan Beks ‘with bright red faces’ and marched him across the market place towards the town hall
Meanwhile mayor Ed Steger was at work in the town hall. He was shocked to see Jan Beks come in handcuffed. What was going on? He spoke briefly with Weber and then, watched by four eyes, with his fellow villager. Someone’s playing a betrayal game, Steger revealed. There’s no point in denying it, he strongly advised Beks. ‘It is serious, my man, you must realise that.’ If Beks wanted to avoid never going home again, it would be better to confess, advised Steger: ‘Choose between your family or disappearing indefinitely in Camp Vught.’ Beks made his decision.
Back in the Molenstraat Jan Beks showed the three policemen where the radio and the motorbike were concealed, and they were confiscated. Weber took him to Oirschot police station where they discussed what to do with him. He was declared to be Staatsgefährlich (Danger to the State). The verdict: from now on he must report every week to the Ortskommandantur (local headquarters) in Eindhoven to ensure that he obeyed the rules from now on. But Jan Beks was now ‘free’ to go back to his family.
Jan Beks and his family survived the occupation unharmed after this incident. Beks was well-known and respected in Oirschot. It was not only his work as an architect but also his social awareness that kept him closely involved with village life. When he was killed in an accident in 1953 it was a great shock to the residents of Oirschot.
T.his text is based on an interview by Jan Kuijpers with Hans Beks, the youngest son of Jan Beks. The interview appeared earlier in De Uitstraling publication
Jan Beks (Image: Family Beks private collection, undated)