Says Matzen, “It was a national event, and I think it was highly traumatic for the core members of the van Heemstra family, of which Audrey was a member, and something that deeply affected her, because once again, just like when her father left, now another father figure has been taken away, and it deepened her insecurity, a lifelong insecurity.”
Matzen additionally describes it as the ultimate straw for Ella van Heemstra’s fascist sympathies.
“She had already become disillusioned by 1942,” Matzen says, “but even as late as the holidays in 1941, she was still staging pro-German events in Arnhem. But when Otto was shot, Ella took Audrey and moved in with Otto’s wife, who was Ella’s sister, Meisje, in Velp… Meisje and Otto were supposed to move in with their grandfather. Otto never actually got to move there because he was arrested and detained, right before that. The house always felt empty because of this.”
The struggle crime that left Aunt Meisje a widow additionally compelled the van Heemstras to be extra lively in resisting their occupiers. Audrey would converse, on transient events, about dancing for the Dutch resistance and elevating funds that contributed to sabotaging German operations. What she didn’t speak about was her performing as private assistant and gopher to the native physician who organized the operations. Indeed, one of essentially the most intriguing parts of Dutch Girl is how Matzen does what the Nazis by no means may: reconstruct the resistance community in Velp and the bigger Arnhem space.
“I was sitting with some contemporaries of Audrey’s,” Matzens says of his time on the bottom in Velp, “and they were young girls during the war. In one case, one of the daughters of this man, who turned out to be the resistance leader [Dr. Hendrik Visser ‘t Hooft], was just a year younger than Audrey… and they casually mention, ‘Oh yeah, our father, the doctor, was the resistance leader in the town, and he used to say, ‘Oh, Audrey was my assistant.’ I almost spit out my lunch.”
Dr. Visser ‘t Hooft, was an enigmatic figure, brazen enough to personally steal a German officer’s motorbike and discuss his means out of it, and in addition shrewdly adept at rallying all of the household medical doctors within the area into his underground efforts. Visser ‘t Hooft knew medical specialists have been a valuable commodity in wartime, even to Nazi occupiers, simply as he knew the Germans paid youngsters no thoughts.