96-year-old woman confesses to 1946 murder

Posted June 08, 2011, at 8:54 p.m.

AMSTERDAM — A murder mystery has been solved — 65 years later — with the confession of a 96-year-old woman.

The 1946 killing of Felix Gulje, the head of a construction company who at the time was being considered for a high political post, roiled the Netherlands, and the failure to find the assassin became a point of contention among political parties.

On Wednesday, the mayor of Leiden, Henri Lenferink, said a woman has confessed to the killing, saying it happened in the mistaken belief that Gulje had collaborated with the Nazis.

Lenferink said he received a letter from the woman, whom he identified as Atie Ridder-Visser, on Jan. 1. Two subsequent interviews with her and a review of the historical archives persuaded him that her story was true.

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. 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 had been a member of the resistance during the 1940-1945 Nazi occupation. Rumors had been circulating that Gulje was working with the occupation authorities, and he had been targeted in the underground press. His company did regular business with the Germans, and several employees belonged to a pro-Nazi organization.

He was arrested after the war, but acquitted.

After his death it emerged that Gulje had sheltered some Jews and had given money to help hide others with other families. A banned Catholic association also held secret meetings in his home, Lenferink said.

 

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