I’d had the date marked on my calendar for weeks: 16 and 17 September, Market Garden weekend. On 17 September, 1944, many a Dutch citizen in the south of the country looked up to the sky to see ‘falling angels’, aka Allied paratroopers, taking part in the largest airborne operation of the entire war. Though... Continue Reading →
Lately, in the context of Remembrance Day here in the Netherlands, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the different ways in which World War II is being remembered today. For us, being occupied by Nazi Germany during the war has become a foundation myth of our identity, and most Dutch novels, films, and... Continue Reading →
A visit to Amsterdam is always a treat - whenever I'm down there for the day I seem to soak up the art, architecture, exhilaration, diversity and history of the city like a sponge. Here is a collection of snapshots I took during various visits in the past few months.
A few weeks ago my brother and I took a trip to Rotterdam. I'd never been in the city proper before, only to concert venues on the fringes, and I was surprised at how modernist and industrial it is. To get the Netherlands to surrender, the Germans bombed Rotterdam on May 14 1940, threatening to do... Continue Reading →
Yesterday I spent a marvellous day with a friend in the vicinity of Arnhem, tracing the remnants of Operation Market Garden, which took place in September 1944. There are quite a few museums and memorials dotted around the area, showing that the people there haven't forgotten the soldiers who tried to drive out the Germans at... Continue Reading →
Yesterday I went to the south of the Netherlands to visit Kamp Vught, the only genuine SS concentration camp located outside of the Third Reich. It wasn't even finished when prisoners started to arrive, and they had to help finish building it. During WWII it was pretty large, but all that remains now are a... Continue Reading →
A weekend at my mother's is always good for some last-minute adventures. Last Saturday night we took a drive in the dark to go and listen to the belling of the stags, a very distinctive sound that they make when they are in heat. Unfortunately, we were a bit early - they do it from mid-September... Continue Reading →