After having been prosecuted for selling ‘Mein Kampf’ and getting a slap on the wrist for it, the Totalitarian Art Gallery in Amsterdam is back in the news with a ‘very rare’ signed copy of Hitler’s controversial book.
The local Anti-Facist League is demanding the book be confiscated and that the gallery be closed down, but the police told them they cannot legally do either of those things. ‘Mein Kampf’ (‘My Struggle’) can easily be found on the Internet since about 1998, but the book version is still banned. As well, the copyright on the book will run out in 2016, making it even more difficult to control any distribution of the work.
Gallery owner Michiel van Eyck is currently displaying the book in his shop, not selling it, and there’s nothing illegal about that. There’s an appeal currently ongoing on the original verdict against Van Eyck. However, banning a physical book that can be found easily and for free is ‘mopping the floor with the faucet running’, as the Dutch would say.
(Link: www.parool.nl, Photo by Adam Jones, some rights reserved)
Tags: Adolf Hitler, Amsterdam, censorship, Mein Kampf
When rebels raided an ISIS safe house in northern Syria, they secured dozens of passports stolen from Westerners, Al Aan TV reports.
Among the many real passports was also this forged Dutch passport signed by the mayor of ‘Enshede’. Since there is no place called Enshede (but Enschede exists), border controls should have no problems stopping the holders of other copies.
Using the sch-sound to separate the good guys from the bad has long been practice in the Netherlands and Flanders, especially since foreigners don’t seem to be able to pronounce it correctly. The Flemish are said to have used the war cry ‘schild ende vriend‘ (shield and friend) during the Battle of the Golden Spurs to differentiate themselves from the French, and fishermen returning to the main land after the Nazi attack on 10 May 1940 were told to use the password Scheveningen to tell them apart from German agents.
I am guessing the forger wrote the name Enschede the way he heard it.
(Link: RTL Nieuws, Photo: Al Aan TV / RTL Nieuws)
Tags: dumb criminals, Dutch language, forgeries, forgers, ISIS, Islamic State, linguistics, passports, spelling, Urk
Although windmills are an iconic representation of the Netherlands, they haven’t actually been used much for the past two centuries.
The ‘invention’ of the practical steam engine by James Watt in the 18th century made short work of the Dutch reliance on windmills. The use of wind power for pumping water out of polders saw a sharp decline in the 19th century.
Ironically, the abandonment of windmills did not stop the development of these devices in the Netherlands. According to Low Tech Magazine:
In the 1920s and 1930s, however, when windmills had stopped working almost everywhere in Europe, the Dutch started a research program that led to the final development of the classical windmill. In 1923, the “Dutch Windmill Society” was founded, with the mission to improve the performance of windmills generating mechanical energy. Among the members were famous millwright builders like the Dekker Brothers. The results were spectacular.
[While] a traditional windmill could be worked for around 2,671 hours per year in the Netherlands, the new streamlined design could be operated for 4,442 hours per year – more or less doubling the annual energy output.
(Link: Making Light; photo: regular windmill De Put in Leiden by me)
Tags: 19th century, pumping stations, pumps, windmills
Anne Frank and her sister Margot probably died a month earlier than previously recorded at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. According to Erika Prins, a researcher at the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam, her death was placed in February instead of March. Both girls died of typhus, with most typhus deaths happening some 12 days after the first symptoms.
Anyone who knows the story of Anne Frank often has the feeling that if she had held on a bit longer, she could have been liberated, which was never really the case, but now even less so.
“The new date of her death changes little about the tragic lives of Anne and her sister Margot, who went into hiding with their family in an Amsterdam canal house but were eventually betrayed, sent to Nazi concentration camps and died in the Holocaust along with millions of other Jews.”
Jews hid in many places across the country (in Dutch). You can also see Anne Frank on YouTube in a film fragment, the only time ever apparently. As well, many people think Anne Frank was Dutch, but she was German.
(Links: phys.org, www.nu.nl, Photo of famous chestnut tree: annefranktree.com)
Tags: Anne Frank, Germans, Jews
Anyone who has been to Charleroi, Belgium knows its particular mix of worn and torn houses, industrial greyness and general sadness that is contagious if you stay there too long. The city has a reputation for crime and violence, but has many good sides related to food, culture and even sightseeing if you give it a fair chance. However, it is a huge contrast to other nicer and possibly more economically sound Walloon cities like Namur and Liège, and surely like nothing you’ll ever find in the tidy, shiny Netherlands.
The film ‘Bienvenue à Charleroi’ (‘Welcome to Charleroi’) was shot by Dutch director Jelle Dijkstra and his good friend co-director and co-editor Derk Zijlker.
Charleroi was voted ‘ugliest city in the world’ in 2008 by readers of Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. High unemployment, crime and poverty rates, political and social scandals, abandoned factories and ghost undergrounds all contributed to this negative image.
Watch the film here and find out for yourself if it’s really that bad (English subtitles). At 5:59 there’s a sign in French that roughly reads ‘Life isn’t easy when what you see is black’ (as in being depressed).
(Link: www.vice.com, Photo of Charleroi by Gerard Stolk, some rights reserved)
Tags: Belgium, Charleroi, Jelle Dijkstra
On 8 January a crowd watched world’s biggest and most expensive vessel ever built, the Pieter Schelte, float into the Port of Rotterdam. The ship was named after Pieter Schelte Heerema, founder of the Swiss-based Allseas group and a maritime engineer, but also a member of the Nazi Waffen SS, convicted and sent to prison for three years for his crimes against humanity in WWII.
The ship is owned by Schelte’s son, Dutch businessman Edward Heerema who has received much flack and petitions from Jewish groups and others to change its name. The Dutch government had given Allseas’ Netherlands subsidiary a $1 million tax break for its part in designing the ship, adding to the ship’s controversial nature. “While Mr Heerema’s father had been recognised by the courts as providing “very important” services to the resistance, he was earlier a “prominent” figure among Dutch collaborators with the Nazis,” according to the Netherlands Governmental Institute for War Documentation.
Edward Heerema distances himself from his father’s past, stating that the ship was named after “the offshore pioneer that he was”. Read more about this huge vessel and see more pictures.
(Links: www.ad.nl, www.jpost.com, Photo of Pieter Schelte ship by FaceMePLS, some rights reserved)
Tags: Nazis, Rotterdam, ship, vessel
British geography professor and author Miles Ogborn’s book ‘Indian Ink: Script and Print in the Making of the English East India Company’ has an image of a Dutchman performing waterboarding on an English pamphlet of 1624. The image depicts an English merchant being restrained while a Dutchman pours a jug of water over his cloth-wrapped face.
Wikipedia explains the Dutch-style waterboarding in more detail:
“It consisted of wrapping cloth around the victim’s head, after which the torturers “poured the water softly upon his head until the cloth was full, up to the mouth and nostrils, and somewhat higher, so that he could not draw breath but he must suck in all the water”. In one case, the torturer applied water three or four times successively until the victim’s “body was swollen twice or thrice as big as before, his cheeks like great bladders, and his eyes staring and strutting out beyond his forehead”.
In colonial times Dutch and English merchants fought over spices in the East, giving rise to acts of torture, with both sides publishing pamphlets to try and discredit the other, like a 17th century flame war. In 1623 on the island of Amboyna In the Molucca Islands, the Dutch East India Company led by Dutch Governor Herman van Speult was said to have tortured and executed English, Japanese and Portuguese prisoners. English pamphlets featuring ‘gory frontispieces’ were refuted in turn by Dutch publications, but the affair was never settled. Van Speult thought that English merchants together with Japanese samurai mercenaries and possibly some Portuguese planned to kill him and overwhelm the Dutch garrison once an English ship arrived for support, justifying his actions.
(Link and image: resobscura.blogspot.nl, thanks Greg!)
Tags: colonialism, colonies, torture, waterboarding
Late November’s opening of the temporary exhibition ‘Sense of Smell’ of the Avans Hogeschool in Breda, a research project entitled ‘Famous Deaths’ featured a metal morgue-like box with the smells depicting the last five minutes of four famous people: Whitney Houston, Princess Diana, Muammar Gaddafi and John F. Kennedy.
“Those wanting to experience Houston’s final moments are transported to a bathtub at the upmarket Beverly Hills hotel where the diva died in February 2012. To the sounds of splashing water and Houston’s voice, a visitor first gets a whiff of generic cleaner, used in hotels around the world, followed by the olive oil the singer used in her tub. Then a strong chemical odour, similar to that of cocaine fills the box, grabbing its occupant by the throat, followed by the sound of rushing water and then silence.”
The metal boxes were completely dark inside and rigged with pipes leading to bottles containing pressurised smells. A soundtrack is played and on queue different scents are released into the box to recreate a specific final moment.
Avans mentioned that other institutions showed interest in the installation, so who knows what dead person we may have the chance to smell in 2015.
(Links: www.bndestem.nl, www.businessinsider.com)
Tags: Breda, celebrities, death, smell
The New Netherland Museum in Albany, New York will soon be saying ‘bon voyage’ to their Half Moon (‘Halve Maen’) replica, originally a Dutch ship from 1609. Owing to financial difficulties, the city of Hoorn, North Holland that already serves as a retirement home for many old vessels, has agreed to care for the 1989 replica, with the museum retaining ownership.
The Half Moon was used for educational purposes, teaching people about explorer Henry Hudson who came to the New World in 1609 for the Dutch East India Company on board the Dutch ship. Nobody knows yet how the ship will actually cross the Atlantic.
“From the moment the keel of the Half Moon was laid, it has been my ambition to see the Half Moon sail in Dutch waters,” said Andrew A. Hendricks, founder and chairman of the New Netherland Museum/Half Moon Replica. “After 25 years of service as the unofficial flagship of the state of New York, the Half Moon will have the opportunity to sail in the Netherlands.”
(Links: www.timesunion.com, en.wikipedia.org, Photo of Half Moon ship by Katy Silberger, some rights reserved)
Tags: Half Moon, Hoorn, New York, North Holland, ship, vessel
Dutch-American Saskia Sassen, 67, is a professor of sociology at Columbia University in New York City whose Nazi collaborator father is part of a recently translated book from German into English entitled ‘Eichmann Before Jerusalem’ written by German philosopher Bettina Stangneth in 2011. Sassen’s father, Willem Sassen was a Nazi journalist and close to Adolf Eichmann when they both lived in Argentina in the 1950s. Sassen would extensively interview Adolf Eichmann, a major Holocaust figure, at their home in Argentina on Sundays, which upset Saskia’s mother a great deal and had her parents arguing after he left.
For a long time Saskia Sassen refused to talk about that chapter of her life, leading a very successful career as a professor author and authority on many subjects in her own right. However, in recent years Sassen has, “found herself repeatedly confronting this missing chapter of her biography, as archival records emerge and scholars, journalists, and filmmakers seek her participation in projects connected to her father’s history.”
In 1948 Willem Sassen escaped with his family to Argentina, where he met a group of local and refugee Nazis who were obsessed with discrediting what they saw as enemy propaganda about the Holocaust. Sassen was horrified by the bloody details he learned about the concentration camps, but was sure Eichmann had been manipulated into organizing such crimes. Sassen wanted to write a book about it all, but it never materialised. In 1960, Israeli agents abducted Eichmann and rumors spread in Argentina that Sassen had betrayed him.
The rest reads like a thriller and could make an excellent holiday gift for some of you.
Tags: Adolf Eichmann, Argentina, holocaust, Nazis