The Fall of Lange Jan

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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.

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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.

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Deutschland 83

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One of my favourite TV shows and I was delighted to find out there will be a second season called Deutschland 86, because it is set 3 years later.

I only lived literally a walking distance from Germany in 1983 and in fact most of my life. Growing up as a kid I didn’t really think anything of it but in hindsight it was kinda bizarre.

Little did I know then, that we were really not that far away from the ‘battlegrounds’ of the cold war, even though the fact there were plenty of staff of the AFCENT (Allied Forces Central Europe Netherlands) in town and surrounding cities. One of the former coal mines was actually used as part of their HQ.

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And surely the AWACS planes (a Boeing 707 type plane with a radar dish on top of it) should have been a give away.

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Oblivious I just went about my business without a care in the world. Naively I felt quite safe where I lived, because often I had seen American Marines marching between Geleen and Heerlen(two municipalities in the south of the Netherlands), chanting stuff like “I like working for Uncle Sam” In fact I thought it was cool, and in a way it was I suppose.

Not realizing those very soldiers were there to assist the Dutch army in case of a potetntial WW3 breaking out.

The Germans though were a funny bunch particularly when it came to their music. From the 50’s to the early 80’s there music was really Schlagers, it can only be described as German folk music I suppose, I would call it crap but it is still very popular with some people who I don’t want to offend.

At the start of the 80’s though a new direction of German music emerged, it was called ‘die Neue Deutsche Welle, New German wave and it brought a few great bands and songs to the front. Bands like Nena,Trio,Bap and indeed Peter Schilling whose song Major Tom is used as the theme for Deutschland 83

 

One of my favorites of the NDW is a Cologne band called BAP , the song is about the Kristal Nacht (in english known as the night of broken glass) from a dark period in German history. The band sings in the local Cologne dialect which is very similar to the Limburg dialect. I will leave it with that. I hope you enjoy this little peace of history. Enjoy the song.