World War I museum opens in Alkmaar


A museum consisting largely of dioramas of the Great War will open at 2 pm today in the Kruithuis (old munitions house) in Alkmaar, Noord Holland. Named Le Poilu after the nickname unshaven French soldiers acquired in the war, the museum mainly looks at the Battle of Verdun, where 300,000 soldiers died and many more were wounded. The museum was founded by Peter Wories from nearby Heiloo, who has been fascinated by WWI ever since he found out that his grandmother was originally from Antwerp, but fled the city to the Netherlands when the Germans attacked in 1914.

The originally medieval museum building is attached to the old high school in which in 1914 German soldiers were interned. The Netherlands remained neutral during the war, or rather, were allowed to remain neutral, but being so close to the action the country did suffer from the fallout. It harboured many Belgian refugees, and because supply lines across the North Sea had become unsafe, suffered from food scarcity.

Museum website, via RTV-NH (radio). Photo of poilu and sculptor Jean Boucher by an unknown photographer.

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