Thursday, June 9, 2011

96 year-old Dutch woman confesses to World War II-era murder

A 65-year-old murder mystery has been solved, with the confession of a 96-year-old woman in Holland.
On March 1, 1946, Felix Gulje, the head of a construction company in Leiden, Holland, was shot dead on his doorstep. During the Nazi occupation of Holland during World War II, resistance fighters had suspected Gulje of collaborating with the German occupation authorities. Dutch police officials had arrested Gulje after the war, but he was acquitted on collaboration charges. Indeed, in subsequent years, it's been reported that Gulje actually aided Jews during the occupation; he provided shelter and money, and allowing a banned Catholic group associated with the resistance to use his factory.
Yesterday, Leiden Mayor Henri Lenfrink brought the Gulje affair back into public discussion with an announcement that on January 1, he'd received a letter from Atie Ridder-Visser, a former member of Holland's anti-Nazi Resistance, confessing to Gulje's murder.
Lenferink "said a woman has confessed to the killing, saying it happened in the mistaken belief that Gulje had collaborated with the Nazis," the Associated Press reported.
"On the cold sleeting night of March 1, 1946, Atie Visser rang Gulje's doorbell in Leiden, and told his wife that she had a letter to give to her husband," the AP wrote. "When he came to the door she shot him in the chest. He died in the ambulance, the mayor said, reading a lengthy statement at a news conference."
Visser moved to Indonesia after the war, married, lived for a time in Spain, and then returned to the Netherlands. She never had children. She met with two of Gulje's grandchildren last month, to explain what she had done.
Lenferink said Visser would not be prosecuted for the crime, and urged reporters to leave her alone.
"Even now, after 65 years, the murder should be strongly condemned: It is a case of vigilantism, and is unacceptable," he said, according to the AP. But he added, "Mrs. Ridder-Visser is a very old, very frail woman who hears poorly, is disabled and needs help."
(Photos: Dutch construction firm owner Felix Gulje was killed on his doorstep in Leiden, Holland, in March 1946. Atie Visser-Ridder, 96, a member of Holland's Resistance, confessed to the crime in a letter to the mayor of Leiden, the mayor announced yesterday.)


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