Carl Mooijman hoped to track down people who helped Putten’s ancestors after the town and its people were violated by the Nazis in the Second World War.
Stroud Town Council clerk Helen Bojaniwska says Putten’s centre was razed to the ground and all its menfolk were rounded up and taken to concentration camps in 1944. Hundreds died.
The Germans attacked after resistance fighters from the town killed some German officers.
Ms Bojaniwska said: “I understand that the story got back to Stroud, possibly through soldiers who visited the town after the liberation, and a collection was made to help the widows and orphans of Putten. Carl wanted to come to Stroud to say thank you and hopefully meet someone who might remember the collection.”
In recognition of the kind-hearted donation, Putten created the Theater Stroud. Mr Mooijman came bearing a commemorative spoon which he hoped to present to someone who remembered the collection. If no-one is found it may be given to the museum.
Old newspapers uncovered by Town Councillor Chas Townley show the West Country retained links with the town after the war.
The Gloucestershire Echo ran a story in January 1948 to say Nazi chief Friedrich Christian Christiansen had been charged with ordering the town to be burned down and would stand trial in Arnhem the following month. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his war crimes.
In March 1946 a Western Daily Press and Bristol Mirror reporter spoke to six children who were staying with families in Yorkshire for four months. It said the children were thin and unsmiling when they arrived, often crying in the day and at night.
Their translator, Dicky Tymensen, said: “The Germans took away all the men from the village for revenge. There were about 600 of them and only 30 came back. The children have lost their fathers and brothers.
“Sometimes still when talking about the terrible things one starts to weep. Normally they have forgotten about it until they come to think that their brothers are not at home. They are learning to forget a little.”
Some of Putten’s orphans also stayed with families in Bristol. A Western Daily Press report about their arrival in February 1946 says many of the children’s parents had been shot. They were to be treated to parties, weekly film shows, trips to Weston-super-Mare and Cheddar, and free visits to Clifton Zoo.
The then-Lord Mayor, Alderman James Owen, said: “The fact we know of the suffering of our neighbours in Holland is an appeal to sustain them in their time of need.”
Mr Mooijman’s visit shows that feeling remains.
Anyone who remembers the collection for Putten’s widows and orphans is asked to contact Stroud Town Council at [email protected].