Friday, October 27, 2023

Dutch Podcast Awards

The Dutch Podcast Awards are being held.

Please vote in favour of the podcast IK KOM TERUG.

Go to:

Cast your vote.

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Sunday, October 15, 2023

A belated Market Garden Memorial Flight

It is now 78 years ago, October 1944, that I sat safely in the belly of my mam. Today October 15, 2023, I sat safely in the belly of a Dakota DC3, the Princess Amalia, of the Dutch Dakota Association for a belated Market Garden Memorial Flight to Nijmegen and Arnhem.

Recently a grandson found out that the Dutch Dakota Association was organising Memorial Market Garden Flights in September. We registered not for the flight of September 16, 2023, which was going to mingle between the gliders and paratroopers on the Ginkelse Heide near Arnhem, but on September 17th as this was a special moment in the our family history. On that day my mom went to the small Eusebius church in Arnhem and got caught in between two bombardments. It was a traumatic experience for her as she saw people dying and wounded people, while she was pregnant with me and shielding with her body her one year old boy, my brother William.

My parents were living on the Southside of Arnhem, across the river Lower-Rhine since 1943, less than 500 metres from the bridge, late known from the movie the Bridge Too Far. The house was close to the brick factory were my father worked. But with operation Market Garden they were caught in the middle of the battle.

Photograph 1: To the left is the north side of the city; to the right you can see the Stadsblokkenweg, where my parents lived. (Fotograph Royal Airforce)

On September 6, 1944 an reconnaisance plane of the Royal Airforce took a picture of the area around the bridge of Arnhem. On the picture the house of my parents can be seen.

Photograph 2: Stadsblokken weg # 5, as my parents found it, when they returned in 1945 (Gelders Archive). 

Within two weeks after the registration of the area around the bridge, their house was firebombed with phosphor bombs on September 19th and they had to flee. It took them 69 days to arrive in Varsseveld, close to the German border, where they eventually found a loving family to host them for more than half a year.

The September 17, 2023 Memorial Market Garden flight was a disaster due to the weather. Because of a heavy clouded sky we could not reach Arnhem and the pilots turned the flight into a tourist roundtrip of the Markermeer.

Photograph 3: the first bridge is the bridge from the battle of Arnhem; it was restored in 1948 and named after a British officer John Frost.Up the river you se the New bridge or Nelson Mandela bridge. To the left between the two bridges is the Stadsblokkenweg. The yellow area is now a festval area, but in the war it was a shipyeard, where my parents took shelter on September 19th 1944. (Photograph Daan van Barneveld)

But today the weather looked better, despite early rain showers. And just by waiting more than half an hour of the scheduled departure the flight went eastwards. First to Groesbeek, than to Nijmegen, where we saw the Nijmegen bridge which was not a heavy battled object and on to Arnhem. So we came up from the river Rhine from the split between the Waal and Nijmegen to the Lower-Rhine and Arnhem. And the pilots gave us a fabulous sight of the bridge and of the area where my parents had lived.  It was great to see the area, where they had lived, but also the area where they fled to for shelter.

Within an hour the tour was over and we had landed at Schiphol Airport. The Dakota DC3 had completed another flight. The airplane was built in 1943 and commissioned into service in 1944. It was four times in service during operation Market Garden. After the war it was bought by Prince Bernhard, the spouse of the Queen-to-be, Juliana, and later it became a government airplane. For more than 25 years it is now the icon of the Dutch Dakota Association (DDA) Classic Airlines.    

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

VR-augmented Dutch Digital Art app

More art in public spaces is soon to be seen in the Dutch new town of Almere. DDAMA's (Dutch Digital Art Museum Almere) digital art tour app offers opportunities for artists and for local and global use. Moreover, it makes art accessible to more people outside the physical museum.

The operation of the VR-augmented Dutch Digital Art app is similar to Pokémon Go: using the app and your phone's camera, you can virtually discover objects while walking outside. You see art in public spaces through Augmented Reality in the app.

A number of interested parties will be testing the beta version of the DDAMA app on Friday 18 August in Almere Centrum. The app will soon allow you to virtually walk around the art on display and you can even take a photo with it. In squares and at the fairgrounds, testers search for art objects with their phones. Magic mushrooms at the fun fair and aliens over a lake and  storming a theatre? Fun to look at art outside like this you can do alone or together.

Making art accessible
Art outside makes it accessible to everyone and does not require an expensive building. The virtual reality app was developed by DDAMA under the guidance of Jan Coenen, a volunteer at DDAMA, together with students from Windesheim University of Applied Sciences. Artwork produced by the local artist Jan Coenen has been used in the VR tour test app.

Exhibition opportunities for artists
The app can make work by more artists visible and accessible to a wide audience. No groundwork and permit procedures are needed to display art outdoors. More artists can get a stage and more people can enjoy it. With help from the DDAMA-VR app, soon more art can be seen in Almere's public spaces. Supporting the further development of the app, for example, will give Flevoland artists more opportunities to show their work. 

Out of necessity
The Dutch Digital Art Musuem Almere (DDAMA) is a priviate initiative and exists for six years now. The physical museum has changed venues in Almere seven times. The VR-augmented Dutch Digital Art app will offer the museum access and space not only to local and regional artists, but also to global artists. It will also offer access not only to local and regional viewers, but also to global users of the app. 

The VR-augmented Dutch Digital Art app can be found in the Playstore. (For now available only for Android.)
If you can read and listen in Dutch, there is a TV-radio interview with Jan Coenen:

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Oral history of the Battle of Arnhem

During World War 2 (WW2) there have been two massive evacuations in The Netherlands. During the bombardment on Rotterdam on May 14, 1940 ca. 75.000 people became homeless and ca. 23.000 left the city. The evacuation of Arnhem was really massive as more than 150.000 citizens had to leave the city for the battle of the bridge over the river Rhine in September 1944.

The battle around the bridge of Arnhem has been well documented by memoires of generals and war experts and was the subject of a real Hollywood movie The bridge too far (1977). And some stories of the Arnhem citizens were usually published as memorials around the month of September. But from last year onwards a drive for stories of the ‘evacuees’ was organised in the oral history project I WIIL BE BACK (IK KOM TERUG). Central in this project are the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek near Arnhem and Bureau van Kessel, based in Arnhem.

The project collects the memories of civilians who had to leave their homes after the Battle of Arnhem. This impact of the war past is collected, recorded and shared in the Airborne Region. In this way, the memories will be recorded and passed on to present and future generations.

Already more than 180 evacuees, surviving relatives and host families have already donated their stories and hope to reach out to other evacuees to start sharing their stories now as well. "Because when we are no longer here, no one will know how bad it was". These stories of the evacuees were recorded and condensed to interviews of 1200 words. Out of the 180 stories 20 stories were selected for presentation on a website, in an outdoor exposition and a podcast. 






The project 

On the website every selected story tells about leaving home, the flight, the return to Arnhem and the rebuilding of the city and the lives. The stories are illustrated with pictures from the family album and drawings.










The outdoor exposition consists of five venues in and around Arnhem (2x), Renkum, Ede en Overbetuwe. Per venue five stories of evacuees from that region tell their story on a panel in the Dutch language; on the back of the panel the story can be read in English. The stories are compact and have been illustrated with historical photographs and drawings.

Arnhem - The Dutch Open Air Museum

Arnhem -  Evacuation monument

Oosterbeek -  Airborne Museum

Elst -  Monument the Wing

Ede -  Airborne Monument















The Boumans Brothers talking with Igoné (11 years) during the podcast recording

The podcast series consist of twenty live interviews with the evacuees, who tell about their memories. In the podcast a connection is made with the youth. Teenagers listened to the stories, reacted to them and translated the flight stories into drawings and poems, which were presented to the evacuees. Our podcast has been listened to by Igoné (11 years). My brother and I met her in the Open Air Museum in Arnhem and had a talk about the flight story of my parents. She had illustrated the fragment of my pregnant mother climbing a ladder in a haystack on a plate.
















The English translation of the family panel in Elst, near Arnhem. On the left bottom is the plate painted by Igoné. (Tick on the picture for enlarging the photograph)

 The Boumans Brothers (Wim 80 years and Jak 78 years) offered the family evacuation story, which was selected as one of the twenty. We researched the family story already in 2020 in the framework of 75 years of liberation of the Netherlands. Earlier I had had produced the lifetime book of our parents in 1999 and lifted the chapter with the war time story from the book to start the research. We plotted their flight from their house which was within 500 meters from the bridge. It took my father and mother, pregnant from me, 69 days and 105 kilometres before they found a lovely family in Varsseveld that took them in and hosted them till the end of the war. During the stay in Varsseveld I was born in a temporary hospital next to an old folk’s home; five months after my birth was announced by a classified advertisement in a regional newspaper. And we found a daughter of the hosting family, who recognised our family name. 

So, now our family story can be read on the web as well as the panel of the open air exposition in Elst (in Dutch and English) and can be listened to in the (Dutch language) podcast IK KOM TERUG on the Apple Podcast, Spotify and Google Podcast

UPDATE (August 12th, 2023): The podcast of our family story (sorry in Dutch) can now be listened to:


The letter statue with the Dutch word vlucht (flee) in the centre of Arnhem

In this blog I have used the terms evacuee and refuge interchangeably. In Arnhem the term evacuee has been used till 2022. In that year a letter statue was unveiled stressing the role of the people fleeing for violence(in Dutch vlucht). I personally rather use the term refugee for my parents. In order to indicate the difference between the terms, I use the family story of my father and his brother, my uncle Johan. Both had come to Arnhem to work in a brick factory. Johan got married before the war and had a house close to the central railway station in Arnhem. My father got married during the war and got a home at the southern part of the river Rhine. When people had to flee from Arnhem in September 1944, Johan went to relatives of his wife with his family of 4 people. He had a rather quiet stay there and when the signal for return was given, the family could return to the house and continue with their life. Our family, by contrast, lost their home, walked more than 100 kilometres in 69 days to find a hospitable family, returned to Arnhem with no home to go back to and had to live-in for three years before they could pick up their lives again with a rented house and a job. My uncle could be labelled as an evacuee, while my father was a refugee.

More information

If you want to know more about the flight story of my parents go to the blog with 32 instalments: The site is in the Dutch language, but use Google Translate or other translation programs. For more information, post a reaction to the blog.