Visiting the Air Force and War Museum in Texel, Himself and I suddenly find ourselves in a large hall full of all sorts of aircraft. It is so large and so full of items that I know that I will have no hope to walk around it all. Instead of trying, I start by talking a photographs as far around me as possible. Here is a photographic over view of what I saw…
February 26, 2017
February 25, 2017
Continuing yesterday’s blog post I am looking at a poster entitled, “Nederland in oorlogstijd” (the Netherlands in wartime).
The place we are in is the Air Force and War Museum in Texel, one of the Wadden Islands in the north of the Netherlands.
As I described in my previous post, the detail in this poster made me turn back for another look, each of the smaller “pictures” within the frame joined up to make a bigger story that illustrated life in the Netherlands under German occupation.
I love the style of the illustrations, the strength of the images when combined with the poignant words, and how typical of the time the artwork of the poster is now, when looked at from modern day perspective.
The smaller pictures surround a larger one, a map of the Netherlands that shows invasion and battle movements, bomber plane and the like.
As with yesterday’s post, translated caption text that were included with the smaller pictures are included above each one.
Although not shown in the same order as on the poster, I have posted these in the most logical and natural sequence in light of their accompanying texts.
The story continues:
And when the enemy was seen, people disappeared fast away
Everything that served the enemy was taken away in the dark
How many hours were people counting, here patience was severely tested
In the direst of situations families escaped famine like this
Beams and board of friend and neighbour were used to make a warming fire
In response to a fearful sigh, food was thrown out of the sky
Covered in sun and happiness the liberator was welcomed with enormous happiness
February 24, 2017
Sometimes you go past something in a museum, and then something about the item attracts your eye and you go back for a closer look.
Such was the case when Himself and I visited Texel’s Air Force and War Museum.
The item in question was a poster, that according to the title, ” Nederland in oorlogstijd” (the Netherlands in wartime) and depicts the events in the nation between 1940 and 1945.
The smaller pictures around the central map are miniature artworks in themselves and taken as a whole, they tell a story about the war.
There are (just) too many photographs for one post, so I will split them into two.
The other half will be posted tomorrow. I have translated the small text of the “story” into English and put them into as logical order as possible (they form a square around the central map and were not numbered.) These are beautiful, and a delight to the detail fanatic and historian alike…
The small pictures…
And where-ever you went the Gestapo was present…
The respect for another persons home was not honoured by the enemies gun
And brothers who spoke our language were doomed with a star
The work offered by the enemy was accompanied by whip and bullets
Many anguished sighs were heard near the barbed wire of Vught (Kiwi’s note: Vought was a Dutch concentration camp)
The heart of the nation was angry and sad because of the murder of Rotterdam
The sacred word and prayer supported moral resistance
People gathered with determination the arms for the freedom struggle
Silent as a quiet rumour, messages were sent through the air
The press, working away from the enemy always offered the free printed word
To be continued…
February 23, 2017
The next display that caught my eye at the Air Force and War Museum in Texel is also one that I didn’t expect to be present in this kind of museum.
A closer look revealed it’s aviation connection, because in fact this porcelain is a tea set used by KLM in either it’s Business or First Class service.
There are not just porcelain cups, saucers and plates, but also milk jugs, napkin rings, salt and pepper set, a small tray for other condiments.
Together with KLM engraved glassware, dinner at thirty thousand feet is indeed a far posher affair at the front of the aircraft than it is with the crowded masses and their plastic implements at the back.
Himself and I buy one lottery ticket per month… if we ever win big I am certain that a nice trip to New Zealand in Business Class would be a wonderful treat.
Until then we will go with the famous quote made by Victor Kiam, who was also famous for the catchphrase, “I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company“. The company in question was of course Remmington, and when Kiam took over they were in trouble so he told employees that costs would have to be cut to save jobs and keep the company from folding.
Executives who has been used to flying Business were required to change to Economy, an action that Victor Kiam led by example with the famous quote: ” After all, the back end of the plane arrives pretty much the same time as the front“. The plates may be plastic in economy and given the choice I would love to be wined and dined with a service such as this, but when reality sets in I will take practical over pretty any day.
February 22, 2017
Leaving the informational movie theatre in Texel’s Air Force and War Museum, Himself and I make our way into a large hall.
The date was Good Friday 2016 and we were taking a little break away from the rest of the family, who were off with friends and other kids.
Just inside the entrance to the hall is a very distinctive display cabinet, filled with of all things, Delft’s blue porcelain houses.
Naturally I am curious as to why on earth this is in a museum dedicated to aircraft and war memorabilia, so went to read the information board next to it. From this I learned that these are:
“KLM Delft Blue Houses. The houses, numbered 1 to 94, are filled with Bols Dutch gin and are handed out at the end of intercontinental flights to passenger flying Business Class. House “94” is a copy of the “Oudheidkamer” in Den Burg.
This was the first copy and it was donated on 7 October 2013 to the Mayor of Texel, Francine Giskes.
During this ceremony, all of the houses exhibited here were promised by Mrs Hartman on behalf of KLM, to former President of the board of this Museum, Theo Whitte.”
Unfortunately house number “94” is not labelled and nor are any of the others, so it’s difficult to tell which one it is, especially since the shelves are not symmetrically spaced in the lower half of the cabinet.
By just counting from left to right (as logically as possible) house “94” could be the first house on the very bottom row but I am not certain if the houses are even in numerical order, it is possible that since this house is especially designated that it is either the house at the very top or at top right of the display.
Both are too high up to see if there are any labels, and sadly I am not familiar with the historic buildings of Den Burg to recognise it.
These little bottles are beautiful, I would love to own this collection (certainly not for the gin, but for the bottles) and it’s an unexpected place to find them since Delft is more in my back yard than Texel’s. I have no clue if this is a tradition that KLM still follow, if so, there are some very lucky owners of these lovely little bottles around the world.
February 21, 2017
It’s not unusual for museums, exhibition centres and historic sites to show short films to visitors.
Sometime these films depict an introduction, or show series of events, but they all need to seat the public whilst the film is being shown.
Himself and I have sat in many of these little “theatres”, from inside a rough little hut, seated on a chunk of sawn off log, seeing how maple syrup is made in Vermont and Maine, to sophisticated theatres in large commercial productions, we have sat in all manner of theatres and seats.
The one in the Air Force and War museum on the Dutch island of Texel during the Easter weekend of 2016 however, is one we will not easily forget.
In keeping with the nature of the museum, all of the seats in the theatre who’s films guide us through some of the regions history, are aircraft seats!
They were very comfortable, and for me a welcome change to rest my leg for a short while. I have to confess that I could easily have gotten comfortable enough in here to have had a little nap after looking at the film, but the rest of the museum beckons.
Not only are the seats aircraft seats, but the theatre is also shaped like the inside of an aircraft. Himself didn’t say anything at the time, but mentioned on the way home that this was one little movie theatre that he really liked and won’t forget in a hurry, I hadn’t mentioned it when we were in there either but I had exactly the same thought!
February 20, 2017
My next post from Texel’s Air Force and War museum is all about the remains and former parts of the defensive batteries that were built around the region during World War II.
There are two main information boards that go with a series of quite amazing models, made by a “B. van Leersum” they show all of the defenses as they would have been in 1940.
If I am totally honest I am curious about the models but less knowledgeable about the technical details that go with them, so I have written up the information that went with the display, and will leave my dear readers to hopefully make better sense of it than I did.
“The North Battery
This was called by the Germans the “Marine Battery Eierland”, “Nordbatterie” or “Batterie Texl-Nord” and was located near Marker Pole No. 28.
The battery was operational as early as 1940 and was used to fire on the channel between Texel and Vlieland. The weaponry consisted of three 15cm cannon, originating from the former Dutch coast battery of Den Hoorn.
On the outer dunes, three open firing positions were built for it. Later on in the war this battery formed part of the Atlantic Wall. Four more advanced 10.5 cm cannon and concrete bunkers were also installed together with a command post bunker with aiming equipment.
In the dunes behind these bunkers there were a number of smaller bunkers, among others for ammunition storage and to house soldiers etc.
After the war the bunkers suffered from coastal erosion and some even fell onto the beach. They were a risk for coastal sea defenses, so they were demolished, and therefore why there is not much left today.
This model shows the situation of 1944 with the three foundations of the 15 cm weapons, the four cannon bunkers with the 10.5cm cannon and the command post bunkers.’
” Coast Battery Den Hoorn
This Dutch battery of 3 x 15L35 was constructed 1938-39 in the dunes near the village of Den Hoorn but was part of the “position of Den Helder” which formed a defense around Den Helder to protect the strategically important navy post and the Texel channel.
This battery consisted of the following constructions: Command Post, three firing positions which were also used as ammunition storage, an ammunition lift, a waiting room for soldiers, staff accommodation, three measuring posts and a workroom.
This battery was made for indirect firing so that the cannon did not have to be positioned on the outer dunes. From the command post and the three measuring posts, the distance and the direction of the target were defined.
This information was passed on to the workroom where with the help of a type of mechanical computer, the data was transformed into aiming information for the soldiers manning the cannon.
German occupiers repositioned the cannon as early as 1940 to the north battery, the command bunker was still used for observation. The command post on the Loodsmansduin, the three firing positions in the nature reserve de Bollenkamer and the southern measuring post near beach post number 8 in the inner dunes are still present.
This model shows the parts of the battery that are mentioned.”
The Second World War was very far away from my family in New Zealand, and yet uncomfortably close for my Dutch family members. Looking at things like this helps me to try and make sense of the things that they went through, what occupation of their country was like and how the experiences of those times shaped and changed a nation. It’s a sobering time in Dutch history, a catastrophic time in world history … where the battery didn’t just apply to these structures being built, but also to the battery that the country was taking.
February 19, 2017
One of the next exhibits that we see in the Air Force and War Museum on Texel is an unexpected but beautiful set of Georgian artifacts.
The information next to it tells us:
“Beginning May 1999 the head of the Georgian Orthodox church, Ilja II, visited Texel.
On 3rd May he paid a visit to the museum to view the exhibit devoted to the “Georgian uprising”.
As a gift he brought with him an oil painting and a special book. The painting shows the “old Tbilisi”, the capital of Georgia, and the book describes part of the Georgian church history.
The gold plaque in the center of the exhibition depicts a knight in a panther skin, and another information board tells us that this is part of one of Georgia’s Epic Stories :
“In the epic story Rustaveli talks about matters such as love, chivalry, courage and friendship.
Although the epic story is written in Georian, the heroes come from other countries: Arabia, India and China.
The knight in the Panther Skin tells the story of the arabian nobelman Avtandil who is sent by his lover and also the ruler of arabia Tinatin, to find the mysterious knight in the panther skin.
After searching for three years Avtandil finds the knight who happens to be the indian prince Tariel and they become friends.
Tariel tells Avtandil that his lover Nestan-Daredjan is kept prisoner by devils / evil spirits in a fort. There is a passionate quest to find Daredjan and to free her.
At the end of the story there is a double wedding: the Royal wedding of Tariel and Nestan-Darejan, and that of Avtandil and Queen Tinatin.”
This is an unexpected find about the Georgian country and culture and tells us something interesting and fun that I would otherwise have had very little chance of coming across since Georgia is not in the mainstream media very much. The detail fanatic in me is also delighted by the gold-work in the picture… and added to this, who doesn’t enjoy a good story?
February 18, 2017
Himself and I, visiting the Air Force and War Museum on Texel back in the Easter of 2016, learned more and more about the regions wartime history with every step around the museum.
Several display boards filled with photographs tell us all about the deportation of younger men, in order to work under the occupying forces.
The text reads: “Beginning in November 1944, every male on Texel between the ages of 17 and 40 had to report to the former “zeevaartschool” (marine academy). On the 11th November, 806 men left the island in two groups.
The first group had to walk from Den Helder, via Hyppolytushoef, via the Afsluitdijk to Witmarsum, where they could sleep before walking to Leeuwarden.
The second group went by the ferry boat “Mars diep” to Harlingen and then also walked to Leeuwarden. Both groups had to deal with storm, cold, rain and snow.
At the Leeuwarden train station both groups were put onto a train to Assen. Here, they were housed in different buildings, including the Meester de Visserschool and the Agricultural school and at the “Port Natal” estate.
The men had to work for the German “Organisation Todt” in strengthening the so-called “Westwall”. This was one of the many lines of defense raised by the Germans as a response to the advancing allies.
Eventually all men returned safely back to the island.”
There are so many exhibits here that it would be impossible to give you a close up of all the photographs or a English text of them all… needless to say we both learned a massive amount and could not recommend a visit highly enough to anyone interested in history and local events.
We also learned to our complete surprise: “British-Indian troops arrived on Texel in the Spring of 1943 as Second Battalion of the 950e Infantry Regiment (II./ind.I.R.950).
They were taken prisoner in North Africa and later joined the German army. The Battalion was used on Texel in coastal defense (the “Atlantic Wall”).
Because the Germans had doubts about the effectiveness of the Indian troops during the Dutch winter, they were replaced in the autumn by part of the 803 North-Caucasian Infantry Battalion.
The Sikhs in the regiment were allowed to wear a turban, as can be seen in some of the photos. The used it to keep their hair bound up, as they were not allowed to cut it off due to their religion.” Details like this are not generally known outside of local war records. We continue to discover so many new things…
February 17, 2017
Himself and I are at Texel’s Air Force and War Museum. The island was of course subject to the German occupation during World War II along with the rest of the country. That said, little fighting was seen here so it was a rather relaxed posting for the occupying forces, something reflected in these photographs. This part of the exhibition covers some of the time during the second world war, it’s a very different view when compared to other exhibitions I have seen, for instance of bombed out areas of Rotterdam and parts of The Hague. It’s also a very different view to what my father experienced as a child living in The Hague. Let’s take a look…