GOSLAR 🚢 A World War 2 Relic
It's September 5th 1939, a few days after Great Britain declared war on Germany (September 3d 1939), when the Goslar (a cargo freight steamer) entered Suriname's waters. The Germans deemed it too dangerous to sail further to Europe and gave the orders to seek asylum in neutral countries. Suriname was at the time still a colony of the Netherlands, who was at the time neutral territory.
Suriname who also had citizens with German backgrounds let the crew in, who in turn sought to connect and make friends with the locals. Among them was the then police commissioner Van Beek. The crew consisted of fifteen/sixteen Germans and mainly Chinese (38) citizens. Because the captain Berkhoff found it too risky he opted to stay, which resulted in a mutiny of the Chinese crew, who only wanted to return home. The Chinese were then send away and the first few months in Suriname the Goslar didn't get inspected because there was no Dutch naval forces.
That all changed when Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10th 1940, after which the police commissioner ordered to intern the German crew members at 02:30 A.M. and gave them half an hour to pack their belongings. That half an hour was enough time for some crew members to open up a sea cock and let the Goslar get filled with water. It turned out that the crew members were expecting to be caught at some point, because they had moved all the coals to one side beforehand, which made the Goslar capsize on its side and gradually reaching the bottom of the river.
The crew and other citizens with German backgrounds (every German was an enemy at that point) got locked up and some found a way to escape a few times. The very first time they had escaped was a feat in itself, as they had traveled approximately 150 km. for eight days by foot to reach the border of Suriname with French Guyana. That attempt was almost a success, but thanks to the alertness of the local Soea they were apprehended to the authorities in Marowijne (Eastern border with French Guyana).
After the second World War the Germans left and went home, with the Goslar left behind to remind us of this to me incredible story. I remember my dad telling me this story when I was a kid and how the Surinamers wondered what was on that ship, that it seemed too valuable to not let it get into Dutch hands. There's even a childrens book written by Gerrit Baron about the mystery the Goslar holds, which is titled Het Geheim van de Goslar (The Secret of the Goslar).