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Civil authorities


The civil authorities in Zeeland - with mayor Walre de Bordes of Middelburg in the driver-seat- showed great vision and responsibility when they announced the evacuation of Walcheren's most prominent two cities, Flushing and Middelburg. The mayor had considered the possibility of German raids against these cities, and since he had carefully kept track of the news of the previous days, he decided to act. He realised very well that the Germans would attack Zeeland soonest since more and more French troops occupied Walcheren and the reports of closing German ground forces were clear enough.

Mass evacuation

In the morning-paper an announcement from the mayor was advertised in which he called upon the population of the two aforementioned cities to evacuate their homes and find shelter in the country, the west part of Walcheren. Obviously a quick reference to the terrible events in Rotterdam on the 14th was not necessary. All realized what was at stake and many civilians had already before left their homes for the relative safety of the country-side.

A challenge was the fact that these sudden evacuations had not been carefully planned upfront, like those in the areas nearby the two defence lines had [pre-war]. Since the military authorities had requisitioned practically every available (motor)bike, horse, cart, car, truck and bus, the majority of citizens had to walk to safety. The country of Walcheren would for some time be packed with both the refugees from the cities, the 14,000 people from the area around the Bathline / Zanddijkline and the 4,000 soldiers who head fled Noord-Brabant. Notwithstanding those challanges, the advice of the first citizen of Middelburg would proof to be more than justified.

The mayor of Middelburg proved himself even more a man of vision when he motivated many Jewish civilians to leave the island and try to reach safe areas in Belgium and France. He feared for their well being when Germans would eventually seize and occupy the island. Alas, only few Jewish citizens followed his wise advice. But then again, who had the visional eye to foresee what virtually nobody kept for humanely possible, but would yet occur during the five years of darkness to come ...?