The Lords and the Ladies of the Castle.

I had done two blogs about these children before, but because it is such an uplifting story I decided to revisit it once again, I also came across a few new pictures.

Hoensbroek Castle, one of the largest castles in the Netherlands, was used from December 23, 1942 as a children’s home for 120 children under the government guardianship. They came from the Meerzicht children’s home in the dunes near Velsen, which was led by the Congregation of Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus. For the construction of the Atlantikwal by the Germans, many buildings had to make way, including the children’s home. Hoensbroek was liberated by the American army on September 18, 1944. The children remained in the castle until May 1946, where NSB and SS men were also housed after the liberation.

The tiny Dutch children, (no more than three years old), entertaining G.I.’s in the grounds of Hoensbroek castle. The children are dressed in national costumes and dance a Dutch Folk Dance.

Hoensbroek Castle was home to 145 Dutch children who were cared for by nuns. American G.I’s would assist the nuns, by taking these three-year-old children for walks.

From left to right Walter Ward of Newark, Thomas McMorrow of Brooklyn and James Firman of Delaware, Ohio.

In October 1942 the German occupiers had ordered the boarding school’Meerzicht’ in Velsen to be evacuated.it was going to be demolished, because it would be in direct line of fire.. The Germans were going to build a 5 km long defense line and the boarding school was in the way.

Frantically the nuns looked for an alternative accommodation. They were offered the castle Hoensbroek in December 1942. They moved in on December 23 just in time for the Christmas celebrations. The distance between Velsen and Hoensbroek is about 200km. For the children that must have felt like moving to the other side of the world.

Velsen would only be liberated in May 1945. in fact technically it was only liberated on May 7,1945 which was 2 days after the official liberation day in the Netherlands. However the southern part of the Netherlands was liberated in September 1944. Hoensbroek was liberated on September 17,1944. This means the children were not only freed earlier, they were also spared the awful famine of the 1944/45 winter.

The children lived a relatively undisturbed live in the castle. Several times it had been declared unsuitable for the Germany army. However a few days before liberation there were a few nervous moments.

Some SS men who were on leave from battle in France. had stayed in the adjacent farm and had been throwing hand grenades in the canals surrounding the castle, just for fun. They had also been walking around naked.

On September 12, 1944 a highly placed SS officer had visited the castle for inspection, he was told there was no room. His reply was not too worry about that, the SS would make some room, while he was looking around at the yard where the children were playing at the time. But he left.

The following day another highly placed SS officer, who had a limp, came to the castle but he too left.

The mayor drew up a false statement, claiming that there had been an outbreak of Polio in the castle. It was therefor not suitable as quarters for the German troops. The Germans didn’t care.

But on September 17,1944 the allied troops liberated Hoensbroek and its castle.

After months of fighting fierce battles this must have been the most adorable way ever how the US troops to spend their days taking these adorable toddlers for a walk, only a few days earlier the Germans had uttered a threat to kill the children.

The castle had also functioned as a shelter for some local people, but they left on September 18 shortly after the liberation.

After the liberation, the outbuildings were requisitioned for housing prisoners, including NSB and later SS. By the end of 1945, more than 800 had been captured. Posts with wire mesh and barbed wire were installed in the courtyard and coils of barbed wire were laid along the canals to prevent swimming over. A guardhouse was placed on the square for armed military surveillance. Not an ideal combination: a children’s home in the Castle Building, prisoners in the farms and barbed wire in between.

They were sentenced to work in the coal mines by the Dutch government and the Allied forces , mainly in the Maurits and the Emma(which was located in the vicinity of Hoensbroek}

The last children and sisters left on June 2, 1946.

sources

https://www.nlveteraneninstituut.nl/verhalen-van-veteranen/kasteel-hoensbroek-en-haar-bijzondere-bewoners/?fbclid=IwAR2U1wU6oPFVryvlSNK-HSD3H8ZcZT6bmAazEbgpP20IyhWJoR6BUS9R3j4

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/thema/Kasteel%20Hoensbroek

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Who is an immigrant? I am one.

The buzzword nowadays is “immigrants” and in hardly any context it is used in a positive way. Here is the thing though, who is an immigrant?

This is just a micro snapshot in history. It is basically a background of my family well at least from my Mother’s side.

The picture at the start of the blog is a picture of the marriage certificate of my maternal grandparents. They got married on December 28,1915.

The groom Durk Jager, the bride Tetje Hoekstra. They lived and were married in a small village in Friesland, in the Northwest of the Netherlands. The village Harkema-opeinde was part of the wider municipality of Achtkarspelen.

It was a rural place and there was not much work to be got. In Limburg, in the Southeast of the Netherlands, there was plenty  of work though. This was because of the ‘black gold’, coal . In the early part of the 20th century. Between 1906 and 1926 coal mines were opened in the most southern province bringing with it job opportunities, not just only in the coal industry but also in the wider economy.

The biggest and the last one to be opened was States mine Maurits in Geleen, which opened in 1926.

That was the call for my grand parents to pack up things and uproot the family for a journey southward to Geleen. Even though the Netherlands is just a small country, in the 1920s a journey like that was the equivalent of emigrating to the US or Canada nowadays.

I used the term emigrating because that is what they were doing. The place they were going to was alien to them. Coming from Friesland they had their own language, a different culture and also a different religion, Friesland being a predominantly Protestant province where Limburg was a predominantly Catholic province. Even the landscape was different.

The new immigrants arrived in Limburg and had to adapt to a new way of life.My Grandparents weren’t the only ones to leave Friesland, because of the lack of work in Friesland a great number of Frisians chanced their luck in the hilly area of the Southern part of Limburg.

I am an immigrant too, because I left that same hilly area of southern Limburg for the emerald isle, Ireland. I emigrated because of my wife, who had emigrated from Ireland to the Netherlands 6 years prior.

In 1997 we decided to move to Limerick in Ireland.

So many people have immigrated over the centuries, when you go back far enough in history you will discover that most of us come from an immigrant background.

So next time someone talks in a disparaging manner about immigrants , just remember they maybe talking about you or your family.

(originally posted on January 15, 2019. Reposted with minor amendments January 10,2022)

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Karl(Karel) Zaicsek-Defiant immigrant miner.

karel

As many of you will know by now I was born and raised in a small mining town in the south east of the Netherlands, the town is called Geleen. But like many other towns in the world Geleen is divided in several neighborhoods, the neighborhood I grew up in, is called Lindenheuvel.

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In the 1926 the Dutch government opened a state run coal mine called Maurits adjacent to Lindenheuvel. This created employment for not only the Dutch but also other nationalities, Geleen became an attractive option for immigrants.

Karl Zaicsek,s  parents were some of those immigrants.They moved from Hungary to Lindenheuvel in Geleen. It is not known when exactly Karl and his parents to Geleen, all we know is that Karl’s father died on the 9th of February 1939, Karl was only 17 at the time. So I presume it was up to him then to provide for his family. He got a job in the mine.

On May 10th 1940, German troops invaded the Netherlands, and a few days later after the bombing of Rotterdam, the Dutch army capitulated . The Dutch government had already gone in exile in London.

Karl  continued working  in the mine during the war but he also became a member of the council of resistance, he had the code name Koenen.

His acts of defiance against the German oppressors consisted of distributing illegal literature,ammunition and delivery of food to those who were in hiding.

On September 12th ,1944  Karl and his mate Jan Barning were caught by German soldiers outside the entrance of the SBB-Stikstofbindingsbedrijf(Nitrogen Fixation factory).

SBB

They had just come back with supplies,it is thought that Karl  had a basket of butter on his bicycle.

The pair however did not want to be escorted to the German HQ and decided to make a run for it.Jan Barning threw his bike at the German soldier who escorted them  and then he and Karl made a run for it. Jan was nearly shot in the head but managed to run into a nearby hostel for mine workers.

Unfortunately Karl Zaicsek was not as lucky  and was caught again  between Sittard and Hoensbroek and was executed on the 12th of September 1944 but other sources say the 16th of September. The sad thing about this Geleen was liberated only a few days later on September 18th.

His family only received confirmation of his death in 1951. On the 20th of July 1951 they held a funeral service for them.

In Lindenheubel a street was named after Karl.

sraat

I only found out about Karl a few years ago. I easily could have discovered his story a long time ago if I had only looked at the names on the monument in the center of Lindenheuvel, his name is one of the names of the soldiers and resistance fighters mentioned on the monument. A place I passed by and visited hundreds of times.

lheuvel

Even if I had been a bit more inquisitive about the street name I so often walked on I would have known the story of Karl. Only after I became an immigrant myself I discovered his heroic actions and that of so many other from Geleen.

 

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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https://www.wo2slachtoffers.nl/bio/56599/Zaicsek-Karl-Karel.htm

 

 

 

 

Who is an immigrant?

wedding

The buzzword nowadays is “immigrants” and in hardly any context it is used in a positive way.Here is the thing though, who is an immigrant?

This is just a micro snapshot in history. It is basically a background of my family well at least from my Mother’s side.

The picture at the start of the blog is a picture of the marriage certificate of my maternal grandparents. They got married on December 28,1915.

The groom Durk Jager, the bride Tetje Hoekstra. They lived and were married in a small village in the Friesland, inthe Northwest of the Netherlands. The village Harkema-opeinde was part of the wider municipality of Achtkarspelen.

harkema

It was a rural place and there was not much work to be got. In Limburg, in the Southeast of the Netherlands, there was plenty  of work though. This was because of the ‘black gold’, coal . In the early part of the 20th century.Between 1906 and 1926 coal mines were opened in the most southern province bringing with it job opportunities, not just only in the coal industry but also in the wider economy.

The biggest and the last one to be opened was States mine Maurits in Geleen, which opened in 1926.

mine

That was the call for my grand parents to pack up things and uproot the family for a journey southward to Geleen. Even though the Netherlands is just a small country, in the 1920s a journey like that was the equivalent of emigrating to the US or Canada nowadays.

I used the term emigrating because that is what they were doing. The place they were going to was alien to them. Coming from Friesland they had their own language, a different culture and also a different religion,Friesland being a predominantly Protestant province where Limburg was a predominantly Catholic province. Even the landscape was different.

The new immigrants arrived in Limburg and had to adapt to a new way of life.My Grandparents weren’t the only ones to leave Friesland, because of the lack of work in Friesland a great number of Frisians chanced their luck in the hilly area of the Southern part of Limburg.

daniken

I am an immigrant too, because I left that same hilly area of southern Limburg for the emerald isle, Ireland.

So many people have immigrated over the centuries, when you go back far enough in history you will discover that most of us come from an immigrant background.

So next time someone talks in a disparaging manner about immigrants , just remember they maybe talking about you or your family.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Staatsmijn Maurits-Dutch State Coalmine

maurits-hoofdgebouw-1945-1

I can never understand people who are ashamed or embarrassed of where they are from or where they were born. You should always be proud of your roots.

Even if you live somewhere else you should never lose your pride of your birth place. It is perfectly possible to be proud of the place you were born and the place you live in.

My roots are in the south east of the Netherlands in a town called Geleen.

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Although it started of as a small village near a small creek it really started to prosper and became a vibrant industrial town after the State Mine Maurits opened up

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By the end of the nineteenth century, a few German and Belgian companies had started coal mining in South Limburg. Geologically, the Belgian Campine, South Limburg and large swaths of the German state North Rhine-Westphalia form a single coal-rich area. Recognizing the strategic importance of coal, the Dutch government founded De Staatsmijnen (The State Mines, later DSM) in 1902 (below we write ‘DSM’). DSM opened three coal mines in the Eastern Mining District, before turning its eyes to the Western Mining District, more in particular to Geleen.

The Geleen municipal council was not amused and sent the Dutch government a letter to object to mining operations within this calm, conservative and agricultural community.

From the letter sent by the Geleen municipal council, dated 14 March 1908:

‘But let us have a look at the drawbacks Geleen would suffer from the mines. We will not even mention the moral drawbacks, and of the material drawbacks we will mention only one: Where will the farmers find workmen to work their land? How much will they have to pay them? No, we hold Geleen, with its healthy, virtuous and prosperous population too dear to let its people be reduced to mine slaves.’

In neighboring Sittard, meanwhile, hopes grew that this ‘prize’ was theirs for the taking. The die was cast by Royal Decree of 12 March 1915: the fourth state mine was to be located in Lutterade, which offered the best possibilities to work the so-called Maas fields. A year later this mine was officially named Staatsmijn Maurits (Maurits State Mine). The work initially focused on sinking two shafts giving access to the black gold. January 1, 1926 marked the official start of the exploitation.

Geleen-Staatsmijn-Maurits-Lutterade-zw-672x372

In 1922, the first stone was laid for the main building of the Maurits State Mine in Geleen. From the opening in 1924 to the closing of the mine on 1 September 1967, this building served as the ‘nerve center’, not only housing the managing director, head engineer, supervisors and works office but also comprising the gigantic bath building (now demolished).

The main building was designed by the Amsterdam architect Leliman. He was a representative of the Amsterdam School, which reacted against the Neo-Gothicism and Neo-Renaissance of around the turn of the century. With Berlage as leading exponent, the designs produced by this school became more rationalistic, with fair-faced brickwork. Above the massive wooden front door the name ‘Staatsmijn Maurits’ was shown in brickwork in the same style, with above it four façade embellishments representing the ‘Mine God’, made in 1923 by the Amsterdam ceramist Willem Coenraad Brouwer.
After 1937, the building was gradually expanded, for instance with a new Wage Hall.

In the (old) Wage Hall the miners literally received their wages on Saturdays. Brass fencing was placed before the supervisor offices, and moving along the fence the ‘undergrounders’ came in to collect their pay packets. Against the walls of the hall you can still see the wooden benches on which the miners waited till their number was called.
In the early sixties, the (old) Wage Hall was embellished with glass art by Eugene Quanjel. Entitled ‘Carboon’, it represents the formation of the coal layers. Use was made of a special technique, developed by DSM, to glue the colored parts in between two glass plates.

Behind the Wage Hall there was in a huge changing room surrounded by baths for employees at levels. The original design was big enough for some 4000 employees (they worked in three shifts, six days a week). Everyone had their own clothing hook, which was lifted with a chain and secured with a safety lock, so that the clothes were literally high and dry.

Before going to the change room, the miners collected their identity badges. After changing, they reported to the lamp room where they were given the lamps needed for their underground work. The miners then formed a column on the footbridge to the shaft, with the shifts that had to go deepest heading the column. In the heyday of mining, in the early fifties, some 5700 employees worked underground and 3400 above it. The Maurits was Europe’s most modern, safe and efficient mine.

In 1957, the mine achieved a record coal production, but the glory days of the Dutch State Mines were soon to end. With the introduction of natural oil and gas, there was no longer much need for coal, and in 1965 it was decided to close the state mines. On 16 December 1965, Minister of Economic Affairs Joop den Uyl came to Heerlen to deliver the news in the local theatre. On 17 July 1967, the last coal was mined from the Maurits.

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Below are some pictures of some of the heroes who worked in the mine.Many died in the mines or at a young age.

groep

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onder

A lot has changed since the mine closed. After the closure another state company was set up, a chemical plant called DSM.

dsm

Geleen merged with the neighboiring town called Sittard, making it one of the biggest cities in the province of Limburg, with the very creative name Sittard-Geleen.

Although Geleen lost a lot of its vibrancy, I am still a proud Geleen man and I am equally proud of my new home Limerick hence a proud Limerick man also.

hof geleen

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The Fall of Lange Jan

Chimney_Lange_Jan,_Heerlen_(2)

Lange Jan(Long John) was the name of the 135 meter(442ft) tall chimney of the former coal mine “Oranje Nassau 1” in Heerlen in  the province of Limburg in the south east of the Netherlands.

800px-Heerlen_-_Schachtgebouw_ON-I

It had been erected in 1937/1938 and had been dominating Heerlen’s skyline. To put it in perspective the Big Ben tower in London is 96 meters (314ft)

The “Oranje Nassau I” had stopped production in 1974 therefore the tall chimney did not use any purpose anymore, The decission was therefore made to demolish the “Lange Jan” on the 21st of August, 1976.

However “Lange Jan” was not going away without a fight and plotted revenge by falling in the wrong direction after the explosives had been ignited,bringing down with it several power  cables.

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The people from Limburg are very proud of their traditions therefore to commemorate the event they arranged for a symbolic funeral procession and even printed some prayer cards.

Bidprentje1

1024px-Lange_Jan_sloop_21-8-1976

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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