The Hague - Vondelstraat Wireless Training Centre
When Karel Richter arrived at MI5's interrogation centre, he too admitted to being trained at a flat in the Vondelstraat. By piecing Karel and Josef's statements together, we can circle a bit closer to an exact location for the flat.
According to Richter and Josef, the Vondelstraat was a fairly broad residential street with a few green grocers and tobacco kiosks and ran west from Prinzenstraat (likely Prinsestraat) to Elandstraat. According to Josef and Richter, one side of the street had large, five story red stone apartment houses, newly built, while the other side was somewhat older. Richter said that he was taken to one of the large, new blocks of apartments and that there was no concierge but the usual continental automatic bell and front-door release. This meant that each flat had a separate number and one entrance door might access seven or eight flats. Richer and Josef could not, however, agree on the flat number. Richter thought it was #131 or 132 while Josef thought it might be #184. After repeated conversations, Josef admitted to Richter that the flat number could have been #131 although both men were still quite uncertain. Richter later stated that “it is certain that if one is coming from the Church and the library and goes down the Vondelstraat on the right hand side, the door is the last but one, just before a small square where the Vondelstraat joins the Elandstraat. I think I can remember seeing no apartments with even numbers on the right hand side of this road.”
This last bit of information is quite helpful in untangling the issue. Given that the Vondelstraat runs in an east-west direction, we can be quite certain that the flat's address was on the north side of the street, near the west end, where the Vondelstraat meets the Elandstraat.
|The Hague - Vondelstraat - 1929 - looking westwards|
(From Local Heart, Global Soul blog)
The image at right was taken in 1929 and looks in a westerly direction near where the Vondelstraat bends towards the west. One can see the ends of the houses that line the intersecting Bilderdijkstraat, Tollensstraat and 2e de Riemerstraat. There are no apartment buildings lining the north side of the Vondelstraat. It is unclear from the image if apartment buildings existed along the south side of the Vondelstraat (left side of the photograph).
|The Hague - Vondelstraat looking east from the intersection|
with Elandstraat - 1935 (from Pinterest)
Based on the identical architecture of the buildings, it would appear that the apartment buildings on both sides of the street were built around the same time.
Along the north side of the Vondelstraat, the apartment buildings from Bilderdijkstraat to 2e de Riemerstraat look identical to those along the south side of the Vondelstraat. The Huispedia site notes that several flats were constructed in 1930 which would be expected. based on the above images.
The image below is from the north side of the east end of the Vondelstraat - note the windows on the ground floor, the doors and the concrete blocks above the doors.
|The Hague - Vondelstraat - north side, east end (Google Street view)|
The image below is from the south side of the east end of the Vondelstraat - note the windows on the ground floor, the doors and the concrete blocks above the doors. The only difference between the south side and the north side is that the concrete blocks on the south side above the doors appear to have more moss and mildew staining, to be expected given that the they face towards the north and get less sun exposure.
|The Hague - Vondelstraat - south side, east end (Google Street view)|
As for apartment numbers, the north side of the Vondelstraat has odd numbered units. The block just east of the 2e de Riemerstraat has flat numbers 93 to 105 and the numbers decrease towards the east. The first door on the north side of the Vondelstraat, near the Bilderdijkstraat is numbered 5 to 15. The flats on the south side of the Vondelstraat have even numbers.
The question then becomes, when was the last section of apartment buildings on the north side of the Vondelstraat (west of the 2e de Riemerstraat) constructed? Were they built by January 1941 when Josef and Richter received their training?
|The Hague - Vondelstraat - looking east from the intersection with Elandstraat.|
There is no date on the postcard but a comment on the site noted the the
flats on the left were constructed in 1940/41.
(from www.htmfoto.net site - but currently a broken link. A note on the main
site states that the site is no longer being maintained.)
(postcard from the collection of Gerard van der Swaluwe)
A comment on the photograph noted that: "The flats at left were completed in 1940/1941."
The Huispedia site also notes that 131 Vondelstraat was built in 1940. It would then seem quite clear that Josef and Karel received their training at 131 Vondelstraat.
But there is a slight hiccup.
|The Hague - Vondelstraat - block of flats constructed in 1940/41 - flats 125-139|
Copyright 2010 G.K. Jakobs
If one walks down the north side of the Vondelstraat from 2e de Riemerstraat towards the Elandstraat, there are six entrance doors to the "new" section of flats (constructed 1940/41).
The second to last entrance door bears the flat numbers 173 to 187. The entrance door for flats 125 to 139 (including 131) is actually the second door after the 2e de Riemerstraat or the fourth door from the intersection with the Elandstraat.
Two possibilities would seem to present themselves.
Perhaps the "new" block of flats were constructed in two sections. The first building west of the 2e de Riemerstraat (with the first three entrance doors, the middle one of which is 125-139) may have been constructed in 1940 and therefore the door for 125 to 139 would have been the second to last door before the intersection with Elandstraat. The last block of flats (with the last three entrance doors) could have been constructed afterwards. The Huispedia site, however, notes that flat 173 (which would have been the second entrance door in the second block) was constructed in 1940 as well.
The other option is that the "new" section was present in its entirety in January 1941 and that the second to last door was the actual door of the wireless training flat, in which case it would have been an odd-numbered flat between 173 to 187, and much closer to Josef's recollection of it being flat #184.
I have considered the possibility that the flats have been renumbered since 1941, but this seems unlikely given my experience with buildings in Germany. Unless the buildings were destroyed during the war, most tend to keep the same numbers over time.