In the presence of the family of Mr. Menzel, Mr. Pete Hoekstra, US ambassador, Mr. Theo Bovens, governor of Limburg and Mr. Jan Schrijen, mayor of Valkenburg, the highest military attaché of the US armed forces in The Netherlands handed over the medal of honor to Rotterdammer H. Menzel.
Mr. Menzel was born and lives in Rotterdam and reaches the age of 94 this weekend. After seven and a half decade, he received a medal of honor from the US government on Monday 16 September. This honorary medal, the Army’s Civilian Humanitarian Service Medal, was awarded to him for special merits at the time of our liberation and during the further course of the war.
The presentation took place last Monday in Valkenburg on the initiative of Museum Valkenburg and working group We Do Remember, together the organizers of a large-scale exhibition in which the story is told of Mr. Menzel and other latest Dutch and American eyewitnesses and where the young men from the US , who lost their lives during the liberation of Valkenburg, are honored.
Immediately after the fierce battle for Valkenburg, Hendrik Menzel reported to the American troops to work at the 91st Evacuation Hospital, which was housed in a former Nazi training institute in Valkenburg.
At that Evacuation Hospital, Hendrik and a number of comrades improved the dirty work. They transported the seriously injured to the operating rooms and the deceased to the mortuary. They cleaned up the rubbish and cleaned the rooms. In Valkenburg, more than 12,000 people were treated in those days. When, after a few months, the hospital followed the front to Germany, the management asked Hendrik and his mates to come along. They stayed at the hospital and helped the doctors and nurses, often in miserable conditions, to save many lives.
Hendrik Menzel is one of the last eyewitnesses. He played an important role in our liberation history. He kept everything in a diary that he handed over to the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (NIOD deposit no. 1891) after the war, so that we will never forget.