Local Heart, Global Soul

April 13, 2017

A Painting By de Goya, Fort Kijkduin, And A Sobering Connection…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Fort Kuijkduin has seen many changes since it’s formative days as a single story series of complex tunnels and bunkers.

Over time more layers were added, the fortifications increased and the size of the site changed as war, and the defences needed against enemies changed.

The complex tunnel system (or at least some of them) are open to the public, but accessible only by staircases, so out of reach for me and any other less able-bodied visitors.

Although I missed this section of the complex there is still plenty more to enjoy on the upper levels and if you really wanted to stop and look at everything in absolute detail, then one visit here would not be enough.

Models, diagrams, historical artifacts and more abound.

In the first hall that I enter, a mannequin figure in one of the alcove cells immediately gives me the impression of a famous painting by Goya and indeed I find out that this is no coincidence. I studied this painting in my Art History days of youth.

With my study notes long gone I found this excellent background:

In 1807 Napoleon offered an alliance with Charles IV of Spain in order to conquor Portugal. Napoleon’s troops poured into Spain, supposedly just passing through. However the alliance was a trick: The French were taking over and Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, was now the new King of Spain.

On May 02 1808 hundreds of Spaniards rebelled. Unsuccessful, these freedom fighters were rounded up and massacred by the French. Their blood literally ran through the streets of Madrid. Goya, although having French sympathies in the past, was appalled by these events and commemorated the uprising in two paintings, the most famous of which being “Third of May 1808”.
To discover why this exhibit is here I read from an information board:

On 02 May 1808 the Spanish people stood up against the French but their attempt was unsuccessful. The painter Francisco de Goya made a moving painting about the mass execution that followed.

Many (Spaniards) were made prisoner of war and were forced to work on all sorts of large projects throughout the French empire. One of the persons depicted being executed in this painting is a symbol for all of the prisoners of war who were transported here and forced to dig out Fort Kijkduin.” I had no clue that this connection existed. It’s a sobering thought, not just for the Spanish who lost their lives but also for those and all the other prisoners who were forced into hard labour both at home and abroad.

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Fort Kijkduin, situation 1812, lighthouse removed 1822…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Fort Kijkduin, situation 1990…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Francisco de Goya / Third of May 1808 / Painting

Den Helder: Fort Kijkduin / The Netherlands

April 12, 2017

English: We Shall Fight On The Beaches!… Opps, But Not Ours!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Arriving in the entrance hall of Fort Kijkduin, located close to Den Helder in the Netherlands, visitor attention is immediately caught by a large exhibit.

It depicts the landing battle between the English and (Napoleon’s)French on the beaches here. An information board translates as:

The early morning landing from 27 August 1799.

The English ships produce such heavy fire that the Bataafse army could not prevent the enemy from coming ashore.

Even worse, both of the rifle battalions (green uniforms) had to retreat to the hamlet of Groote Keeten.

Additionally, the second Battalion of the 5th Half Brigade (Blue and white uniforms) was forced to retreat to the Koegras.

The losses from the Bataafse side: approximately 1400 men.
The losses from the English side:approximately 500 men.

As a result of this landing Napoleon ordered the buildings of fortifications in Den Helder, including this fort.”

The little model figures and boats depict the battle, but are safely under a protective cover, away from inquisitive little fingers.This is how, as soon as we get in the door, we find the reason that this fort was built…  and since starting at the beginning is  very good idea, so in we go!


(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)

Den Helder: Fort Kijkduin / The Netherlands

April 11, 2017

If This Is The Posh One, Then Where Did The Squaddies Squat?

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

The strong, cold, gusting wind that greeted us at Fort Kijkduin during the 2016 Easter weekend a gives me a special sympathy for this next subject.

Whilst everybody else scurried hurriedly to the entrance to get out of the wind, Moi, Kiwidutch Plod, was relegated to the rear, slowly making my way with the crutches, taking both rest and photographic stops.

On the other hand though, the biggest advantage of my slowness is that I get to see the most… which is how I managed to add another quirky loo to my photo collection of beautiful, quirky and novel lavatories.

This one has a sign outside: “Officiers Latrine” so clearly historically this was one of the best loos in the Fort.

I find myself wondering that if this was the luxury version offered to the Officers,  then what was made available to the poor lesser ranks must have been pretty grim. Access to the Officers Lavatory was via the inner courtyard, exposed to all weathers, which here in North Holland could be brutal in winter. With no visible ventilation it probably stank too. Toilet facilities in centuries past always seemed to be rather rudimentary, but a soldiers life was already a tough one so adding a freezing seat for the basic necessities of life seems cruel indeed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Den Helder: Fort Kijkduin / The Netherlands

April 10, 2017

Almost Literally Getting Blown Through The Front Door…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Family Kiwidutch and friends are visiting Fort Kijkduin on the outskirts of Den Helder in the Netherlands.

The day presents us with high gusting winds and dark stormy skies, but the wind has a plus side: it is blowing the bad weather away.

The sun is trying to break through the dark clouds, succeeding more and more as the day goes on, so we have been exceptionally lucky: especially considering that we packed the car on the nearby island of Texel this morning in drizzling rain.

Entering the Fort we find a series of courtyards, the first one is flanked my two small buildings, one of which looks more like a house than the other.

Then comes a bridge that connects this courtyard area with the larger one within the inner fort walls.

During our visit I never made it around the lower level courtyard (a third one, that is encircles the main Fort complex. Whilst I am taking photographs from the bridge, I happen to see a door open below me, a family come out, clearly with the intention of walking around the lower level. It only takes a minute in the cold gusting wind for them to decide to turn around and go back inside. I laugh, but can’t blame them, even the grass on top of the high wall above them is taking a battering.

Some of my photographs are a little fuzzy too: even a DSLR camera could not always focus as I tried to stay on my feet, and that’s even using every wall, rail and sheltered nook I could find to stay steady. The silver lining to this blustery weather however, is that the rest of my family, our friends, and every other set of visitors I see at that moment scurry past me as quickly as they can in search of the shelter inside, therefore I have no-one walking in front of my lens as I  take photographs.

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

The sign “Officiers ingang” translates: “Officers entrance”…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Even the grass is getting a battering…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

The family literally come outside for thirty seconds before deciding that inside is a better deal today…

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Den Helder: Fort Kijkduin / The Netherlands (Website: Dutch language only)

April 8, 2017

An Instant Feeling That This Visit Was Going To Make My Day…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

During the Easter weekend of 2016, Family Kiwidutch and two sets of friends spent most of the weekend on the Dutch island of Texel.

Easter Monday saw us all back on the mainland in the port town of Den Helder and about to visit somewhere special: “Fort Kijkduin“.

“Kijk” in Dutch means “look” or “view” and “duin” means dune, so a literal translation is “dune view” but like many place names around the world the literal translation doesn’t really work or sound right in other languages, therefore during our visit here I will just refer to it as “Fort Kijkduin”.

First of all we got a good look around the outside of the fort.

Part of the structure has been restored, some has been added, the most obvious part of this being a large section of roof. On a stormy, windy day like the one of our visit, this was especially welcome. There are cannons dotted around the location, both inside and outside of the imposing walls, located literally in the dunes on the opposite side of Den Helder to the Texel ferry and fishing port, it is in a lonely and desolate location. That said, the outskirts of the town are slowly creeping towards the fort, a fact of life for many historic places that were once in relative wilderness, especially in times when the fastest mode of transport was a horse.

If you visit the website (at the end of this post) you will find a little flag to represent an English translation version, but sadly for the non Dutch visitor,  it leads only to a “reserved domain” where they hope to put the English translation at some time in the future. I will therefore endeavour to provide as many translations as possible and applicable, but in the cases where “a picture tells a thousand words” I will let them do so.

My “driver” (Himself) is a saint of a husband who does a slow circle of the car park so that I can get as many photographs from as many angles as possible with the least amount of walking, the kids and friends having already been dropped off so that they can burn some energy and make a head start. Regular readers will know that I love places like these: here I had an instant feeling that this visit was going to make my day.

(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)

Den Helder: Fort Kijkduin / The Netherlands (Website: Dutch language only)

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