Mystery epigraph on church bell solved


Sixty years after a poetic text was engraved on the bell of the St. Pancratius church in the town of Haaksbergen near the German border, no one would have imagined the underground author making himself known.

When it came time to replace the church bell after the war, the town called upon the people to come up with a suitable text. The one chosen was from someone under the pen name ‘NNN’, which in Dutch read: “Mijn voorganger, door ‘s vijands nijd geroofd, gesmolten tot kanon, vervang ik thans, in groote dank, omvat mijn roep de vrijheidsklank.” (Roughly and quickly, “My predecessor, hatefully stolen and smelted into a cannon by the enemy, I now replace, with great thanks, as my ringing encompasses the sound of freedom.”

A man from the area, Ronald Floors, just happened to meet Wil Hekhuysen from Apeldoorn who told him his story a few days ago. Originally from Amsterdam, Hekhuysen did not want to be sent to a work camp in Riga during WWII, so he ended up going underground in Haaksbergen. Since he couldn’t really participate in the ‘contest’, he sent in his inspiration under a pen name, which was the favourite. He said to Floors that he was very proud he’d won, but couldn’t tell anyone. For years, he didn’t feel the need to make this known, until now. Ronald Floors looked everything up in the town’s archives after hearing the story and it checked out.


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