After about 12 years of wondering what happened to the missing British Short Stirling Bomber BK716, it was finally found at the bottom of the Markermeer lake, near Amsterdam. In 2020 we’ve also learned that the remains of the seven airmen who went missing aboard this aircraft during World War II are still on board.
A spokesman for Durham Constabulary in the United Kingdom said the Bomber Command Museum of Canada had asked it for help tracking down living relatives of Sergeant Charles Armstrong Bell of Langley Park, County Durham, one of the seven airmen. The relatives of the six other crew members have also been found, although their names have not been revealed.
The BK716 was lost when returning from a bombing raid in Germany in 1943, and first discovered in 2008 when a piece of its landing gear latched onto the anchor of a stranded boat. Experts had long believed that the aircraft was another Short Stirling, the BK710, after examining an aluminium panel. Later, however, a cigarette case and a wooden mascot brought on a new investigation that made the BK716 a more likely candidate.
The defence ministry and a private contractor started retrieving the wreckage of the BK716 on 31 August, with an engine part confirming that it is the BK716. After six weeks, the dredging will have been completed and hopefully we’ll hear all the historical details. For context, the Markermeer is a 700 km² lake that is in fact shallow at 3 to 5 m in depth, while the area the plane parts are being found cover 75 m².
(Links: dutchnews.nl, bbc.com, Photo of a different plane, the Short S 31 Half Scale Stirling by, most probably, the Imperial War Museum)
Tags: airplane, bomber, Britain, Germany, Markemeer, WWII
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.
Tags: Anne Frank, Germans, Germany, train
Last week, the Dutch government announced it was going to hand out 15 million iodine pills to protect people living near worrisome ageing Belgian and German nuclear reactors. The seven Belgian reactors in Doel and Tihange were built in the late 1960s to late 1970s, with closures planned for 2022 to 2025, while Germany’s Emsland plant, built in 1982, is scheduled to shut down in 2022. As a contrast, the Netherlands only has one operational nuclear power plant in Borssele, Zeeland, built in 1974, with no plans to close, except rumours of ‘possibly before 2033’.
First Belgium announced its plan to distribute iodine pills to its population of 11 million people in 2017 in case of a nuclear accident after which Dutch health minister Edith Schippers announced that her government would distribute its share of pills to the Dutch. Once tablets are distributed to children and pregnant women, the rest of the 15 million could be made available to everyone caught up in a potential accident, including tourists, visitors and workers, Schippers explained. Iodine pills help reduce radiation build-up in the thyroid, and tablets are available to everyone aged 40 and under within 20 kilometres of a plant.
“Belgium’s creaking nuclear plants have been causing safety concerns for some time after a series of problems ranging from leaks to cracks and an unsolved sabotage incident.” And if that wasn’t enough cause for concern, investigators last year found surveillance footage of a Belgian nuclear official in the apartment of a suspect linked to the Brussels and Paris attacks.
(Link: phys.org, Photo by Tom Varco, published under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license)
Tags: Belgium, Germany, nuclear power
There is no lack of examples of American series and films trying to make something Dutch only to have it looking and sounding German. The bad remake of ‘Kidnapping Mr. Heineken’ had the wrong colour bottles and actor Mike Myers had a terrible Dutch accent in his 1990s Austin Powers movies, but at least he was joking.
As some of you know, the current season of the American series ‘Homeland’ was entirely filmed in Germany, and lots of it in Berlin. However, the latest installment, episode 7 of season 5 has some scenes set in Amsterdam, in the Zeeburg district, which had issues that most viewers probably wouldn’t get and don’t really have to because the story flows well.
First, the screenshot above. The Zeeburg district has been part of East Amsterdam since 2010. Houseboats and a canal were a good idea, but the architecture isn’t Dutch, and if that’s not a problem, the German yellow construction sign should be, as it reads ‘bau’ (‘construction’ in German) instead of ‘bouw’ in Dutch (hard to see here). You could have told me this was Denmark and I would have bought it without the sign. The reference to Flevopark in the east was spot on, but the street called Tolstraat is in another district. No separate bike paths could be seen, and streets and houses were way too big to be in Amsterdam. Oh, and the yellow license plates had too many letters on them to be Dutch ones, but points for the blue one on the taxi.
This fall another American series, ‘The Vampire Diairies’, took a trip to Amsterdam in their first episode of season 7 and got a lot of things wrong, but were not trying too hard. Two main characters are seen drinking beer with a windmill on it, which is fake but funny and then they order whisky which comes in glasses I’ve never seen here. The Dutch license plate on the car was fine, but the cars didn’t look very European, there were no separate bike paths and the street was too large. The cafe looked slightly European though.
And since I like trilogies, I caught an old episode of NCIS, season 8 episode 9 that was set in Amsterdam. It had an actual pan of an Amsterdam canal and a tight shot of a cafe that looked vaguely European. The joint one of the characters was smoking was not realistic because you just don’t light one up at an ordinary cafe terrace despite the rumours, and the weather was way too nice. Again, suspension of disbelief came in handy and the story was fine.
Bonus: find out what a Berlin blog thinks about what Homeland gets right and wrong.
Tags: Amsterdam, Berlin, Germany, Homeland, television
Dutch racing driver Jan Lammers recently had the honours of racing the Delft University of Technology’s Forze VI, a student built hydrogen powered racing car on the world-famous Nürburgring racetrack in Germany. Lammers completed the 21 kilometre-long endeavour under 11 minutes, a world first for a hydrogen fuel cell powered car.
Although the Forze VI reached top speeds of 170 km/h around the track, the 50 students who have made this car a reality believe it can do so much more. Besides getting the car to reach the theoritically possible speed of 220 km/h, the Formula Zero Team Delft plan to race against combustion engine powered cars in various races, with the ultimate goal being the 24 hour Le Mans.
(Links: www.bright.nl, www.formulazero.tudelft.nl)
Tags: Delft University of Technology, Germany, hydrogen
As people are moving from Kerkrade, Limburg to the connecting city of Herzogenrath, Germany due to cheaper house prices, Kerkarde discusses how it could ever become a true European cross-border city with a mix of Dutch and German rules and regulations. It’s one thing to regroup a bunch of Dutch cities into a collaboration like Parkstad Limburg, which includes Kerkrade, it’s another to run a city within two countries that have their own laws, language and culture.
In 2012 two-third of emigrants in Herzogenrath came from Kerkrade, sometimes even on the same street: Nieuwstraat in Kerkarde, Neustrasse in Herzogenrath. And if you move down the street to another country, you’re still an emigrant. Even your mobile phone provider doesn’t know where you are half the time, and I’m often told that the border people speak dialect on both sides and understand each other perfectly.
The mayor of Kerkrade Jos Som has to deal with the differences in legislation every day: “Sometimes we use Dutch law, sometimes German law, and sometimes no law at all”. He explains that it can be rewarding or frustrating because after all it’s Europe and we still have to do things together.
For true border complications there’s always Baarle-Nassau, with its collection of Belgian enclaves that put Google Streetview to the test.
(Link: www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl, Photo of Kerkrade by FaceMePLS, some rights reserved)
Tags: europe, Germany, Kerkrade, Limburg
Here is the Dutch pavilion of the 2000 World Expo in Hanover, Germany, or rather what remains of it.
MVRDV from Rotterdam designed the building to showcase how water, wind and will power combine to form the Netherlands. The tallest building of the expo at 36 metres featured five different landscapes on five different floors. The fourth floor symbolised a water landscape and had walls of water. The other floors didn’t have walls at all. The third floor carried the top two with columns made from oak stems.
Last week Der Spiegel visited the expo grounds to see what happened with the buildings countries had erected there:
The wild forest on the third floor of the Dutch pavillion is Sylvia’s favourite spot. This afternoon the 15-year-old has gone again to the graffiti riddled ruin which is called the “Holländer” by the citizens of Hanover, a building that looks like a monstrous parking garage with stairs on the outside.
To urban explorers like Sylvia [and her friend Kai] the exposition grounds are like a playground. Adventurers come here all the time—to explore what is left behind of the World Expo, to spray, to party, to make love.
Initially there were plans to keep the Dutch building in use. In 2003 a centre for renewable energy was going to be housed in the building, but a backer pulled out citing health problems. Another plan was to use it for a shrimp farm! According to Archined in 2010, the owner probably wouldn’t mind if the building collapsed on its own — much cheaper than having it torn down. The building permit for the oak columns ran out in 2005.
See the Spiegel article for more photos of the exposition grounds or search Flickr.
(Photos: the ruins in 2009 (top) by Matthias Hensel, some rights reserved; and the Dutch pavilion during the expo (bottom) by Sommerci, some rights reserved. Link: Z24)
Tags: Germany, Hanover, MVRDV, ruins, urban exploring, World expo
After World War II the Netherlands took two small villages and an assorted number of small territories from the Germans as reparations, most of which were returned on 1 August 1963 in exchange for 280 million German marks.
At the time of the return, certain food stuffs like butter, coffee and cheese were much cheaper in the Netherlands than in Germany, Der Westen reports. A kilogram of butter was 2 guilders cheaper, which is 5 euro in today’s money. Smart entrepreneurs—the site doesn’t mention names—spotted an opportunity and drove 150 trucks worth of goods into the village of Elten on the night of 31 July, what later became known as ‘Butternacht’ (Night of the Butter). When the clock struck midnight, it is said these entrepreneurs made a profit of about 50 to 60 million guilders by ‘transporting’ goods from the Netherlands to Germany without moving the goods one inch and without having to pay import duties. Instead the border was moved. At the time a guilder was worth about 0.25 US dollar or 0.1 British pound.
The Dutch occupation doesn’t seem to have hurt Elten. Hundreds of thousands of tourists came to the town each year to look at the spoils of war and climb the Eltenberg, a 82 metre high hill. When the Dutch returned the town to the Germans, it was the only German town in the neighbourhood that wasn’t in debt, De Volkskrant wrote last Saturday.
Original Dutch plans for reparations included annexing large areas of the German states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia and deporting the 10 million Germans living there, but the Allies and especially the US did not look kindly upon those plans and only allowed the annexation of an area containing some 10,000 people. Now, in 2013, the only land that hasn’t been returned to Germany since the war is the Duivelsberg, a hill near Nijmegen that was hotly contested during Operation Market Garden after it was taken following a short fire fight between the Able Company of the 508th USA Parachute Infantry Regiment and a German company. Much later during my student days it had turned into a famous local make-out spot.
See also: Murder on the border, about the Dutch-Belgian town of Baarle where you may cross a border simply by walking from one room to another.
(Photo derived from a newsreel by Polygoon-Profilti, some rights reserved)
Tags: borders, butter, Butternacht, Elten, Germany, history, WWII
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)
Tags: accents, German, Germans, Germany, immigrants, immigration, language, linguistics, Max Planck Institute, psycho-linguistics, Radboud University
Dutch postal company PostNL surveyed 18 European countries and it’s the Dutch that apparently send the most Christmas cards, at an average of 40 a household. The Brits, Danes, Fins and French also send a lot of Christmas wishes through the mail, at an average of 17 to 30 cards, while Southern Europeans send the least amount of cards.
Almost all European countries have special Christmas stamps at a reduced rate. In the Netherlands they’re called ‘decemberzegels’ (‘December stamps’, more generic) and ‘kerstzegels’ (‘Christmas stamps’).
Interestingly, Germany actually has Christmas stamps that are more expensive, costing 55 euro cent with 25 euro cent extra going to a good cause.
The photo above are Environmentally incorrect Santa Claus cards I scored at the cheap Asian import store down the street two years ago. However, while researching this piece, these blonde Caucasian German angels jumped out at me.
Tags: angels, Christmas, Germany, Netherlands, postage stamps, Santa