Local Heart, Global Soul

January 7, 2018

A Quiet Spot To Light A Candle…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Lastly, when leaving Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog for the last time, we come across what I first thought to be a Catholic Cemetery.

Instead it shows what appears to be the Stations of the Cross, each of the scenes in a small enclosed box to protected it from the elements.

An information board close by reads: “Kapel van Nijhoven” (Saint Salvator Chapel / St Salvadore of Nijhoven)
Nijhoven is a very old settlement. The name comes from “nieuwe hoven” which means “new farms”.

Excavations have shown that a wooden field chapel was here as early as the post-Carolingian monastery time. In the 14th century there was a stone field-chapel which burnt down in 1585.

In the 17th century the chapel was rebuilt as a cross-formed church which was of the same size as parish churches of that time. In 1648 Protestants tore down and destroyed the contents of the church.

Miraculously a large wooden crucifix was saved which is now in the Sint Remigius church of `Baarle-Hertog. In 1807 a large part of the church was demolished and in1926 the protestant community decided to demolish the entire building.

All of the architectural ornamental elements were used to restore the Reformed church on the market (in the town) of Ginneken. In 1930 the Catholics built the current chapel on the foundations of the previous “Priesterkoor“ (Kiwi’s note: sorry, I couldn’t translate this last word, the closest I could guess was “priest” “Choir” but I know for certain that that’s not correct).The architect is the Benedictine monk Van der Laan”.

A meditation garden surrounds the grotto, and as usual Himself and I lit candles for a friend of ours who is a Catholic nun. Even in the dead of winter this is a calm and serene place and we were pleased to have stopped here before our trip home and back to the rush and roar of family life.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 6, 2018

Buying Up Large At Cheaper Prices…


(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Before we head away from the centre of Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog, there is one other thing that we have seen in some of the side streets a little bit further along.

What we have seen are many signs advertising Tobacco and Fireworks. Each of the establishments selling these is located on the Baarle-Hertog (Belgian) side of the enclaves and they are taking advantage of the tight Dutch laws around tobacco and fireworks.

With Belgian regulations, taxes and prohibitions far more relaxed than the Dutch ones, these shops have sprung up in various parts of the Belgian enclaves so that Dutch customers can circumvent Dutch regulations.

For instance: in the Netherlands fireworks are only available for sale for the traditional New Year celebrations on the very last days of the year.

Fireworks may be ordered in special fireworks shops early in December but you pay for your order then and only pick up the actual goods between the 28th and 31st December.

The setting off of fireworks is strictly prohibited until around 6:00 p.m. on 31st December. Before then the police roam the streets playing a cat and mouse game with anyone letting off fireworks earlier and dish out heavy fines to people not complying with the bans. Belgium on the other hand has more relaxed laws on fireworks so Dutch rebels buy them in Baarle-Nassau and stockpile them, letting them off earlier and hoping not to get caught. Tobacco products in the Netherlands carry a higher tax rate than Baark-Hertog (Belgium) so there are no shortage of buyers coming to buy up large at the Belgian cheaper prices.


(photograph © Kiwidutch)


(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 4, 2018

The Typical Tourist Pose…

Himself and I start fooling around with photographs of the unusual border that marks Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog so starkly. The street near the old “Stadhuis” (Town Hall) in Baarle-Hertog (Belgian territory) is a quiet one that branches out onto another small and fairly quiet street. I photograph him in the typical tourist pose: standing stride the border with one half of him in The Netherlands and the other half of him in Belgium. The silver domed disks in the road showing that the quirky borders are anything but logical.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 2, 2018

Do The Funky Chicken…

A few metres from the convent in yesterday’s post, I found a shop with these funky chickens in the window display. Who could fail to be cheered up by these whimsical lovelies?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 1, 2018

Opened Up Opportunities For Girls Who Passed Through These Doors…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself and I toured Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog during a weekend away for two at the beginning of 2017.

This intriguing place where enclaves and counter-enclaves boggle the mind and make you wonder continuously which country you are in, is also full of some very beautiful buildings.

This one, a “Klooster” (convent), is yet another example of this.

Located a short distance from the former “Stadhuis” (Town Hall) in Baarle-Hertog in Belgian territory. There is an information plaque which translated into English reads:

Convent. In 1879 the Franciscan nuns came from Herentals to Baarle-Hertog to provide Catholic education to girls. Until 1917 they taught girls from Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau. They are credited with founding the first convent in Baarle and they were also the last ones to leave in 1999. They were active in education until 1979 and Sister Damiana was the last actively working teacher.

So a century of teaching took place here. It’s certainly a very different architectural style of school to the ones I attended in New Zealand. If the teaching styles were different I will never know, but I think the Baarle-Hertog kids got the more beautiful buildings, even if they did not appreciate that at the time. They also began at a time when far fewer girls than boys got any sort of education at all, so who knows what opportunities they opened up for the girls who passed through these doors?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 31, 2017

Remembering Heroic Actions…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The former school alongside the former Stathuis (Town Hall) in Baarle-Hertog  has the war memorial located on the outside of one of it’s walls.

This memorial commemorates also the actions of Miet Verhoven, Gerardus Gerritsen and Adriaan van Gestel who made the ultimate sacrifice in their efforts to help downed pilots back to safe territory.

This is a beautiful, poignant statue that gives a lasting memory to ordinary people caught up in horrific events far beyond their own making but who stood up, stepped out and showed amazing acts of bravery.

They make the ultimate sacrifice and deserve nothing less something beautiful to remember them by.

My only regret is that this statue is not located on the Main Street of Baarle where it could be even more appreciated.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Monument for those Executed

This monument is made in 1949  by L. van Der Meer in memory of the three inhabitants of Baarle who were executed on 10th September 1944 : Maria Verhoeven, Gerardus Gerritsen and Adriaan van Gestel.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 30, 2017

Former Belgian Town Hall In Baarle-Hertog…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next place that we come across is the former Belgian Old Town Hall in Baarle-Hertog. I did some research and discovered that:

“Old town hall of Baarle-Hertog in neoclassical style from 1877 to design by P.J. Taeymans, restored in 1988; until 1986 in use as a town hall and field sentry, present archive, work and exhibition space of Heemkundige Kring Amalia van Solms; located on the corner with the Desiree Geeraertstraat (Baarle-Nassau).

Detached double house with rectangular floor plan. Brick row facades on high pedestals finished on the front with pseudo-rustica facade with plastered and painted corner pillars.

Raised ground floor, only accessible via double stitch stairs and landing with wrought iron railing; the round arch door in the middle gives access to the basement.

Against the western side wall monument of brick and sandstone with bronze sculpture group by L. Van der Meer from Breda, erected in memory of the resistance fighters of Baarle-Hertog on 10/9/1944 and inaugurated on 10/9/1949.

(information from Provinciaal Archief Antwerpen, Gemeentehuizen, Baarle-Hertog)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“The Residence. This former residence was the first Town Hall of Baarle-Hertog and was in use until 1987. It was designed by P.J. Taeymans and built in 1877”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 29, 2017

Smuggling Letters Through The Lines…

Miet Verhoven. (photograph © Kiwidutch)

On our weekend visit to Baarle earlier this year Himself and I found an information board in the countryside nearby about the “Doodendraadroute“ (Route of the Wire of Death).

On Sunday, the next day we decided to look around the town a bit more before we went, and all of a sudden we found another one of “Doodendraadroute” series boards in one of the side streets.

This one was about the role of Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau in smuggling letters. Translated into English the board reads:

“Baarle-Hertog: letter smuggling centre”
In order to break the moral of the Belgian soldiers the German censor prohibited letters to and from the front.

But mail-smuggling networks were soon set up. Letters were collected in each provincial capital and sent to Baarle-Hertog via Brussels because Baarle-Hertog was the only Belgian post office on the border not controlled by the Germans.

From Baarle-Hertog the letters went via Baarle-Nassau, Vlissingen, London, Folkestone and Calais to the front (or to the government in Le Havre and visa versa).

For months on end families lived in uncertainty about the fate of their fathers and sons. It was a relief to receive the letters but they could not be delivered in the normal way. On the other first letter smuggling services was “Post de Geallieerden” / Post des Alliés” it was established in Folkestone together with the Belgium military censorship.

Post from the “werk soldatengroet” (literally: work for solders greetings) consisted of three similarly numbered strips, in this case: “NYH12/3 strip 2”.

The Germans could not find out who was the sender of the smuggled letters. Strip One, with the name of the soldier remained in Baarle-Hertog, strips Two and Three were smuggled into Belgium.

On strip Two came the reply and Three was the actual letter. Back in Baarle-Hertog strip One was sent together with strip two to the front.

(Kiwi’s note: this system appears complicated but if I have it correctly then it just means that only two strips are together at any one time and the sender and addressee are always kept apart.

Thus if a letter was intercepted then the Germans would only know where it was going or who it was from but not have both bits of information, thus the letter, and it’s possible postal route was more or less anonymous. Himself gave up trying to figure out how this all worked and said: “If it can fool the Germans, it can fool me”).

Belgian Post Office (Kerkstraat 1) the organisation “ Aide des Soldats Belges” sent parcels from here to soldiers at the front containing tobacco, food and clothing.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

By the end of 1916 more than 80% of all smuggled letters into Belgium came through here. The main smuggle services had their offices in Baarle-Hertog amongst others “Werk Soldatengroet (le mot du Soldat) “Union Belge, and “Post de Geallieerden”. Scan the QR code and listen to the story of Miet Verhoven.

When the Germans intercepted a Thank-you letter from England in 1918, Meet, a border guide from Hoogstraten was arrested for providing support to Belgian army recruits.

During WWII Miet was active in a group helping pilots to escape . On the site of the old town hall is a statue of this courageous woman.

Jacques Gevers, a refugee from Antwerp discovered a niche market in Baarle-Hertog. For a fee, he sent postcards with rare stamps from Free Belgium (unoccupied = this was only Baarle-Hertog) to collectors in the Netherlands.

These stamps were printed in London for the benefit of the Belgium Red Cross. They were made to replace the stamps confiscated by the German army.

Liberation Parade 12th August 1919, Soldiers from Baarle-Hertog were received in the town hall. Upstairs was the office of the local police were thousands of recruits of the Belgian army were registered and conscripts were medically examined.

(Kiwi’s note: Baarle-Hertog was a “safe” place for this sensitive information, because located safely within the neutral Dutch border it was the only unoccupied part of Belgium)
In 1918 it also hosted the “vredesgerecht” (type of local court) the large family of the local police officer lived downstairs.

Again, this is another part of “history” that we never learned in our History lessons, and with fewer and fewer people still alive from this time I can only hope that as many personal stories as possible have been collected and preserved for future generations.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 28, 2017

History Records Little Of The Wire Of Death…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When Himself and I were driving around the small roads of the district that surround Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog we drove past an information board.

Stopping to take a closer look we found lots of information in Dutch which translated into English read:

Doodendraadroute “Route of the Wire of Death”.
“Tension at the national border”:”Because Germany failed to control the large flow of influx of refugees, spies, soldiers, deserters and smugglers entering the Netherlands in mid-1915, they started to erect an electric fence along the entire Belgian – Dutch border: “Doodendraad” (Wire of Death).

The fence ran from the gate at the Meersweg in Minderhout (see photographs 1a and 1b) to the meadows along the River Mark.

The river was followed in a straight line to the bridge of Castelre about 200 yards from here.

There was also tension at the peace conference at Versailles (1919) where Belgium asked for border correction.

For it’s defence it had to rely on the Maas and Scheldlines (natural boundaries) Zeeuws-vlaanderen and the Dutch province of Limberg were claimed.

They also asked for a border correction in Baarle (see map) . Baarle-Nassau was already coloured (in their application) as Belgian soil. The trust between Belgium and the Netherlands was completely gone.

Belgium was furious about the retreat of 12 November 1918 of 70 000 German soldiers over Dutch soil with the spoils of war. The Allies were not informed beforehand.

In Baarle-Nassau190 German soldiers crossed the border. They were disarmed and returned home by train via Eindehoven and Kaldenkirchen.”

Here Lies Jeanne Philipsen / Born: Hoogstraten 23 August 1892 / Died: Minderhout 27 December 1914 / Victim of War

On the 27th December 1914 the congregation of Castelre were permitted to return home at 11:00 p.m. after the service. Afterwards the road between Minderhout and Castelre was closed by German soldiers.

In the late afternoon Jeanne Philipsen was shot here when she with her mother and brother still attempted to cross the border. Jeanne lies buried to the south of St Katharina Church in Hoogstraten.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Scan the QR code and listen to the story of Joke (Kiwi’s Note: this name is pronounced: “yoke-ah”) and Toke Verheijen. Joke lived with her parents in the second house along this side street.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Toke (in photograph) worked as a maid in Minderhout. The Wire of Death wire separated the two Dutch sisters, but they still kept in touch. On 9th October events went tragically wrong when both sisters were electrocuted.

“Wire separation WW1”. On 10 November 1918 the Netherlands granted political asylum to Wilhelm II, the German emperor.
The Dutch tradition to grant asylum to anyone who was persecuted was not set aside to allow the war’s victors to take revenge. The allies found this standpoint hard to understand.”

This is a part of the First World War that I knew nothing about. Before our visit to Brabant my Dutch husband hadn’t either. I find it amazing that books, films, and documentaries cover some areas and events of both WWI and WWII almost ad infinitum and yet other events, like this Wire of Death, so very little is recorded that it’s a complete shock to discover that something so inhumane existed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sign 9 after 1.9 km:   – follow junction 52

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 27, 2017

Character And Style Of It’s Own…

There was another church in Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog, close to the “VVV” (Visitor Information Centre) that I had not included in earlier posts. This one: “St Jozef” is fairly plain but I like the patterns in the bricks of the hall attached to it and the little ball-like finial on top of the tower’s spire. It’s very understated so probably I am guessing has Calvinistic leanings. I found that each of the Baarle churches I have featured so far have had their own character and style and it gives them each their own identity.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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