the following morning—three o'clock had just struck— Hitler's legions
were bombing all the flying fields in The Netherlands. Bank officials
and diamond dealers rushed to the bank. The Dutch were bewildered and
stunned. They didn't know the meaning of the word "blackout." They had
no shelters against air raids.
telephone calls were placed to all parts of the country to locate
Devrees, the bank's manager. He was not to be found. A director of the
bank, one of the three men who had knowledge of the vault's
combination, finally was located. He twirled the dials back and forth,
back and forth. Nothing happened. It may have been that the shock of a
near-by bomb had jarred the tumblers of the safe. Officials of the
cutting firms paced the floor frantically. Meanwhile, a cable arrived
from the English owners of the diamonds. It read:
CHARTERED SHIP CROSSING CHANNEL TO PICK UP STONES AT AMSTERDAM.
know how the country became a mass of ruin; we know that now. But the
bank officials were realizing that Devrees had set the time lock on the
vault for opening Tuesday morning. They called in experts to try to
blow off the door with TNT. They called in well-known crooks. But the
cold steel withstood the gnawing of the whirring carbon drills. The
safe expert hung several sticks of dynamite near the lock with tape,
discharged the load with an electric spark. A roar reverberated through
the underground rooms of the bank. Acrid smoke curled in under steel
safety doors. When the officials examined the door, they found that the
lock had been destroyed. The door refused to budge.
While the group of officials tried to decide what to do, word arrived that the Nazis already were in Amsterdam.