March 1, 2018

Germans pass on naming train after Anne Frank

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 2:30 pm


German railway company Deutsche Bahn has decided not to go ahead with plans to name one of their Intercity trains after Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who was deported by train to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944 and whose diary is world-famous. Frank was German until 1941 when she became stateless while living in Amsterdam.

Last September, Deutsche Bahn asked people to suggest names for trains, and along with Anne Frank, they suggested first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Konrad Adenauer and scientist Albert Einstein. Both Jewish and non-Jewish organisations pounced on the railway company with ‘this is a terrible idea, don’t do it’ and the original reply from the railway company was ‘Anne Frank stands for tolerance and reconciliation’.

Following the criticism, Deutsche Bahn is going to go the ‘IKEA’ route and give the trains names of German rivers and mountains.

A lot of companies and organisations seem to get Anne Frank wrong: as a Halloween costume, an espace room or even as a Spanish musical.


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March 18, 2016

Anne Frank themed escape room in Valkenswaard

Filed under: General,History,Weird by Orangemaster @ 10:39 am


Noord-Brabant, one of the Dutch provinces that unwillingly served as a doormat for invading troops during WWII, now has its very own Anne Frank themed escape room advertised with “Hide before the Germans find you!”.

Located in an old WWII bunker, ‘Het Achterhuis’ (‘the shed’ or ‘back room’ and also the original Dutch title of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’) is the theme of this espace room, and its 19-year-old owner Thijs Verberne swears it has an educational purpose. The Valkenswaard escape room lets you ‘walk in Anne Frank’s shoes’ and fuelled by fear of being sent to the camps you need to find a way to get out of it that I bet doesn’t involve writing in your diary.

On Facebook there’s people totally into it and there’s a lot of disgusted folks as well. The espace room apparently looks like the Anne Frank’s house, the original of which is about 87 kilometres away in Amsterdam, although there are others around the country.

The city of Valkenswaard, which was always planning to do something with the bunker, will make sure the escape room is being run properly, although this sounds like something you would say to the media. The Anne Frank Foundation has not yet made any statements about the escape room.

UPDATE: The Anne Frank Foundation is not amused in the slightest.


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April 1, 2015

Anne Frank died earlier than recorded

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 3:23 pm

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:,, Photo of famous chestnut tree:

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April 9, 2013

Remembrance of the Dead gets unsavoury German flavour

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 11:04 am

Remembrance of the Dead on 4 May is respected to commemorate all kinds of civilians and soldiers who died in WWII, Dutch or foreign, but since the 1960s it has also included other wars and major conflicts. And like last year, the controversies are starting up again.

The town of Bronckhorst, Gelderland, near the German border wanted to commemorate German soldiers buried in nearby Vorden last year, but the courts shot them down at the very last minute. However, the town has won its appeal and can celebrate as they see fit, providing it is done ‘with care’. They plan on having an alderman walk along the German graves to commemorate, well, Nazis.

I still believe that paying tribute to Nazis is blurring the lines between the good guys and the bad guys of WWII solely to provoke and get media attention. Younger generations, including myself, are not old enough to grasp the intensity and damage of war in Europe at that time, and to act like everybody was a victim today is extremely distasteful at the very least.

As well, much like the run of comments we had about good things the Nazis did and a neighbourhood built for Nazis in Heerlen, Limburg, sure it’s allowed to talk about anything in a free country including Hitler and Nazis, but we don’t have to approve of what Bronckhorst is doing.


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February 23, 2013

Dutch with an accent just as easy to understand

Filed under: Science by Branko Collin @ 3:13 pm

People who speak Dutch with a foreign accent are just as easy to understand as native speakers. Listeners may need a while to adapt to the accent, anywhere from a few sentences to a few minutes.

Yesterday Marijt Witteman received her PhD for researching how fast listeners adapt to foreign accents. One perhaps surprising finding was that native speakers who were used to the accent, for instance, Dutch people living near the German border listening to Dutch spoken by Germans, understood words pronounced by language learners just as fast as they understood words pronounced by native speakers.

Even listeners who were not regularly exposed to the foreign accent only needed a few minutes of ‘priming’ to get up to speed. Witteman used reaction time tests in which subjects first heard a word, then saw the word written out on a screen, after which the subjects had to state if a word existed or not. Previous experiments had shown that people respond faster if they hear the word before they see it on the screen. The response times for words pronounced with an accent were just as fast as for words pronounced without an accent.

Witteman’s results could be useful in designing language courses. Course materials could be less about perfecting pronunciation and more about understanding a language. My personal take-away lesson is that Hollanders can stop pretending they don’t understand what the rest of the Dutch are saying. The game is up!

(Photo by Leo Viëtor, some rights reserved)

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August 17, 2012

Selling a bank using cheese and blonde clones

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 9:35 am

Clichés sells, even to our big Eastern neighbours, the Germans who like Dutch cheese, clogs and blondes. However, this commercial kicks it up a notch, with more clichés and a weird German-Dutch accent.

The advert is trying to get Germans to choose a Dutch bank. “What to do you think of when you think of a Dutch bank?” the advert asks. Those blonde clones look like a bad sect, the computers could be Tulips (a Dutch brand — anyone?), the phones are clogs, the orange national color is de rigueur and many more details the makers enjoyed cramming in.

Making banking funny is an interesting stretch: either it works or it backfires, time will tell.


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September 21, 2011

Germany family hiding and living in Dutch woods

Filed under: Animals,Bicycles,Weird by Orangemaster @ 6:46 pm

A German family of two parents in their thirties and four children (11, 5, 4 and 3 months) is said to be hiding in the woods near Sibculo, Overijssel, just a few kilometres from the German border. They are hiding from the German authorities, as the court ruled that the kids had to be taken away from their parents for reasons the press doesn’t mention. They also own three dogs. The family is originally from Warendorf, East of Münster, much further away, but in a relative beeline from where they are now.

They have been moving around by bike with a trailer hitched to it since September, and the Germans want the Dutch to help them find the family, as they are worried about the children’s well-being. I still would like to know why.

If we can find terrorists, we can find a big family that can’t run, with kids and a baby, and three possibly barking dogs, right? OK, they are pretty cool travelling by bike.


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April 6, 2011

Dutch sign language jokes, not very politically correct

Filed under: General,History by Orangemaster @ 11:55 pm

Watch this video here, we can’t embed it. It is subtitled in English.

They say it is a prejudice to sign a headscarf as a symbol for the cheap German supermarket chain Aldi where Muslims shop and to sign a pointy helmet for Germans referring to the WWII. It’s nice to know that the Dutch speaking world is not alone in its prejudices.

And the Dutch have five sign language dialects because they had five different schools that did their own thing.

The sign for Facebook does remind me of a fish.

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July 23, 2010

German and Dutch students don’t mix in Maastricht

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:49 am

At Maastricht University in Maastricht, just a few kilometres away from both Belgium and Germany, Trouw claims the Germans keep to themselves and so do the Dutch. The main reason is that stereotypes prevail: the Dutch like to party a lot and are considered lazy, while the Germans actually want to be studying and are too serious. Those are excellent reasons not to hang out together, although not convient for collaborative school projects. The article says the Germans don’t ‘integrate’ and that’s a loaded word to use, they didn’t ‘immigrate’, they just ‘don’t mix’.

Even though there are foreign students in Enschede, Groningen and Nijmegen, half of them are German, which doesn’t give an international allure to any of the establishments. A student council representative explains that it’s easy to mix with international students (non-German), but much less with Germans. No explanation is given and that’s odd.

And then apparently the Dutch “are annoyed at the level of Dutch the Germans speak, as it is not good enough”. Isn’t that usually a given? That’s cold.

Non-German students in Maastricht came for an international atmosphere and have ended up in the middle of a Dutch-German group, forcing them to try and blend in with both. “Maastricht should not make promises it can’t keep: don’t call yourself international when all you have is Dutch and German students,” said one student to the newspaper.

Anyone from Maastricht, expats, students, Germans have anything to add? Don’t mention the war for no reason or make stolen bicycle jokes in the comments please.

(Link:, Photo: a shopping street in Maastricht)

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February 25, 2009

Pre-dug beach holes in Katwijk

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 8:51 am

The city of Katwijk is going to pay students to dig holes at the beach which can then be rented out to tourists for an expected 4.50 euro a day, Algemeen Dagblad reports (Dutch). Apart from doing its bit to help fight the economic crisis, the Citymarketing Katwijk foundation also insists these holes fill a real need. This is borne out, the foundation claims, by a poll held among 300 people.

A popular view among the Dutch is that German tourists like to dig holes when ‘occupying’ a Dutch beach, but the foundation says it’s not just our Eastern neighbours who expressed interest in Katwijk’s rent-a-holes.

Katwijk is located at the mouth of the Old Rhine, a river that stopped having major economic import when it silted up around 1,000 A.D.

Photo of the sea at Katwijk by Michael Brys, some rights reserved. Via Z24 (Dutch).

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