History & Genealogy

Mayor in Wartime

We write the year 1936. A young man, 28 years old, is appointed by Royal Decree as mayor of a small municipality in Zeeland, Cadzand. Cornelis le Nobel is greatly welcomed in the otherwise quiet West Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. With good intentions and a focus on the future, he starts his job. However, in 1940 it was done with peace, World War II breaks out. Cadzand is also not spared. A difficult time is coming for the mayor and his people.

Cornelis (known as Cor and / or Cees) was born in Kampen on July 1, 1908 and until his appointment in 1936 he worked as a municipal secretary in the municipality of Oudenrijn (near the city of Utrecht). In 1938 he married on January 29 with Rie Ackerstaff in Deventer, the birthplace of his wife. In Cadzand the population was happy with the arrival of the new citizen father 'from the other side'. Carts were decorated and the entire village ran out. It was a great party. Cadzand is in those days, in the late 1930s, an agricultural village with less than a thousand inhabitants. The crisis time prevails and tourism was still unknown. People worked with the farmers on the land with the result that there was a lot of unemployment during the winter period and therefore a lot of poverty. Cor le Nobel did not want to be addressed as 'mayor'. He was called Cees by many. He was a social person and could get along with almost everyone. One of the things he arranged was providing employment for the unemployed.

War time
May 1940, World War II breaks out in the Netherlands. German soldiers will enter the Netherlands on 10 May. On May 14, the Germans demand the surrender of Rotterdam. This happened, but the city is bombed anyway. After this bombing, the Netherlands decided to capitulate. The capitulation did not apply to the province of Zeeland. On May 15, German units invade Zeeland, fierce battles take place. On the morning of 17 May Walcheren and Zeeuws Vlaanderen are still not in the hands of the Germans. That same afternoon, Middelburg is bombed and at 18:00 the white flag is hoisted as a sign to capitulate.

Cadzand is also not spared. Mayor Le Nobel is given the first assignment to demolish the 20 machine guns in the dunes and hand in the weapons. Cadzand is part of the Atlantikwall and a so-called marine coastal battery is installed. The coastal battery at Cadzand is one of the most important and belongs to the Festung Schelde-Süd, which runs from Breskens to Knokke-Heist in Belgium. Dark and heavy years break, but in the meantime they try to continue with 'normal' life. On December 9, 1940, the mayor fold of a daughter, she calls her Hermina Johanna Magdalena le Nobel, called Hanny (mother of Marc, the webmaster).

A precarious position
As mayor in times of war, Cees le Nobel has to balance a lot with a narrow margin. He knew that if he was thanked, an NSB mayor came and so he did it his own way. He had to navigate and seemingly "cooperate" with the sleeves to minimize all kinds of nasty measures, including the removal of labor and the demolition of houses. Kees liked to drink, was jovial and cozy. In Oostburg was the headquarters of a German general. He came in contact with German officers at the drink table. Visible to everyone, he drank with the sleeves. He then winked (!) Even to his acquaintances, he made no secret of it. In this way he arranged many favorable cases and certainly not for his own interests. He never took "promotional gifts" from the sleeves. Precisely at times of striking behavior Kees managed to get a lot out of the waiting for the population. In this way he managed that many boys did not have to go to Germany to work there (arbeitseinsatz). Thanks to a stamp of employment they were allowed to stay. He also managed to prevent old people and children from having to leave the municipality and that the demolition of houses was limited as much as possible. The price tag attached was that the farmers helped by horse and cart to strengthen the coastal defense for the Germans.

In 1941, the Germans progressed to the mayor's residence, Huize Beatrix, on the Keiweg in Cadzand-Duinen. Cees le Nobel is assigned a house in the Mariastraat, he moves in with Saartje Risseeuw. Some people were jealous that his mayor's residence was only broken down much later than the order, for the purpose of bunker construction for the Atlantic Wall. They did not understand how he dealt with the sleeves. Only his real friends knew something more, because he had to be very careful with his double role. The muffs once wanted to pick him up because they suspected doubles (possibly by betrayal). This seems to have been sworn by a huge liquor.

False gossip
Cadzand was liberated on 30 October 1944 by the Canadians. Immediately after the War, Cees le Nobel, in the eyes of some people, was suspected of "healing with the enemy". He was deposed. This was based on an intrigue of 3 people (one of them aspired the mayor position). They told false gossip and passed this on to the Queen's Commissioner. This happened more often shortly after the liberation; there was a witch hunt. Neighbor quarrels, jealousies and the like were also exploited. Cees has never been a member or sympathizer of the NSB with certainty. This was proven conclusively, shortly after the War in 1946, from N.S.B. registers (RIVO sections Walcheren & Zeeuws-Vlaanderen) and about 10 witness statements from people who had experienced him up close. He was officially declared 'purified'. Cees was widely appreciated as a good fatherland who, as a mayor, held a precarious position. Like everyone else, he was not perfect. He sometimes got the appearance of people who did not understand his role. He left the area and left for Utrecht.

City councilor
Cees was very social as a person and he would have liked to be seen. This was clear when he returned to Oostburg in 1955. He was divorced (1954) by his wife Rie Ackerstaff and remarried with Rie Sopers in 1955. He lived in the Elmsee house (= old name for 'big hole') on the Zuidwal. He participated in the municipal council elections in Oostburg in 1962 under his own name (Free List) and immediately won a seat. For more than 6 years (2 service periods) he has been a municipal councilor here. He was also a member of the local committee organized consultations. On May 29, 1968, Cees dies unexpectedly as a result of a perforated appendicitis. On 1 June he was buried at the general cemetery in Oostburg. The funeral was attended by many, including the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of Oostburg and almost all council members. Cees has turned 59.