On this day in Dutch history
On the 20th of May 1945, the Georgian Uprising against the Nazis on Texel ended when the Canadian soldiers arrived on the island. The uprising had started on the 5th of April of the same year, and has been called Europe’s last battlefield.
On the 6th of February the 822nd Infantry Batallion was stationed on Texel. Texel is a Dutch island just north of Noord-Holland, and had been of strategic importance to the Nazis. The 822nd Infantry Batallion was part of the Ostlegion-program, which created batallions out of volunteers. Some of these volunteers were Soviet prisoners of war who were offered the chance to escape the horrible circumstances of their imprisonment if they fought for the Nazis. As far as the Soviet Union was concerned, anyone who was part of these batallions was a traitor, no matter why they had joined.
The batallion on Texel was made up of about 800 Georgian soldiers and 400 Germans, who were the commanding officers. Major Breitner had given orders on the 5th of April for the troops to get ready to depart the next day. They would join other Nazi soldiers to fight the Allies in the east of the Netherlands.
By then, it was fairly obvious that the Nazis were fighting a losing battle. If the Georgians wanted to be on the Allies’ good side by the time the war was over, they would have to act fast.
And they did. At 1:00 on the 6th of April, the Georgians killed most of the German commanding officers in their sleep. Most of the Georgians had been assigned officers to kill. In order not to cause alarm, they killed with knives and bajonets.
The start of the uprising went well for the Georgians, who quickly conquered most of the island. They were also helped by the local Dutch people. However, Major Breitner had managed to get word of the uprising to the mainland, and the Nazis sent back-up. The back-up was well-armed, well-organised and too much for the Georgians. In the weeks that followed, the Georgians were driven back. The final fight was near the lighthouse at De Cocksdorp, a town on the very north part of the island.
The Nazis then tried to find the remaining Georgians on the small island, but they were hidden by the local Dutch and survived the search. Even after the official Nazi surrender on the 5th of May, the war on Texel lasted for a few more weeks until the Canadians arrived.
The Nazis lost at least 800 soldiers, while over a hundred Dutch people died during the uprising. The Georgians lost over 500 soldiers, and the survivors went to the Soviet Union on the 17th of June 1945. They were given Allied uniforms and letters of recommendation from the Dutch resistance and the Canadian government. However, many were still sent to Soviet labour camps for several years, while a few were allowed to go back home.
(Above: Georgian War Cemetery on Texel.)
On this day in Dutch history
On the 19th of May 1872, Johan Hendrik van Dale died. He revised the first edition of the Dutch dictionary from 1864, and did such a thorough job that his name is linked to the most wellknown Dutch dictionary rather than the creators’ names.
Van Dale’s parents lived in Eeklo in Flanders, but left for Sluis in the Netherlands when a smallpox epidemic broke out in Eeklo. Van Dale was born and raised in Sluis, and also became a teacher in his hometown, as well as an archivist. In 1854 he even became headteacher of the school.
Van Dale was also a linguist, and wrote several educational books about language, parsing, rhetoric and other related subjects.
In 1867, he was given the job to revise the first 1864 edition of the Nieuwe Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal (The New Dictionary of the Dutch Language), which was created by Isaac Marcus Calisch and Natahn Salomon Calisch. Van Dale did the job in 4 years.
As a teacher, Van Dale kept his own pupils in mind when revising and clarifying the definitions. He had been quite annoyed at vague or unclear definitions, so he wanted to make sure that this dictionary would be better.
In his foreword to the second edition he wrote that working on a dictionary is ungrateful and saddening, because while there is a lot that has been improved and included, there remains so much more that has escaped attention and as such remains unimproved.
His edition of the dictionary was released in 1872, and as the books were released, Van Dale died of smallpox. One of his pupils, Jan Manhave, completed the final editing. Manhave also revised the third edition of the dictionary.
While the current edition is its 14th edition, none of the other editors are linked to the Dutch dictionary like Van Dale is. Its current name is the Van Dale Groot Woordenboek van de Nederlandse Taal (Van Dale’s Large Dictionary of the Dutch Language), commonly referred to as the Dikke Van Dale (Big Van Dale).
(Above: The current edition of the Van Dale dictionary.)
Aert de Gelder - Self-Portrait - circa 1710.
oil on canvas. 79.5 × 64.5 cm (31.3 × 25.4 in).
Saint Petersburg, Hermitage Museum, Russia.
Aert de Gelder (or Arent, October 26, 1645 – August 27, 1727) was a Dutch painter.
De Gelder was born and died in Dordrecht. He was one of Rembrandt’s last pupils while in Amsterdam, studying in his studio from 1661 to 1663. He was not only one of the most talented of Rembrandt’s pupils, but also one of his most devoted followers, for he was the only Dutch artist to paint in the tradition of Rembrandt’s late style into the 18th century. Having access to the vaticans censored artworks and literature following Rembrandts lead, De Gelder would paint such artworks as “The Baptism of Christ”. This took the style of depicting hovering objects in the sky which was in many religious pieces prior to De Gelder.
This week in 1984, Danny de Munk was number one in the Dutch charts with ‘Ik Voel Me Zo Verdomd Alleen’ (I Feel So Damned Alone)
De Munk, born in Amsterdam in 1970, was nearly 12 when he auditioned for the role of Ciske for the film Ciske de Rat. He impressed the director with his rendition of an André Hazes song and a dirty joke.
The film Ciske de Rat, set in the 1930s of Amsterdam, is about Ciske, a young boy who mostly lives on the streets as his father is at sea and his mother doesn’t want him around. After some tribulations, including Ciske stabbing his mother in a fit of anger and being sent to a reformatory for children, things do end relatively happily for Ciske. His father marries a woman who finally accepts Ciske and he’s allowed to go to school.
The titlesong of the fillm became a huge hit, and while De Munk was too young to do many performances, he kept working on his acting and singing career throughout his teenage years. 1991 was a big turning point, as De Munk scored another big hit - a title song for a Dutch sitcom - and got the part of Marius in the Dutch version of Les Misérables. De Munk went on to play the lead in several more Dutch musical productions.
He has also acted in regular films and some TV series, but his career in the 2000s focused more on his singing.
On this day in Dutch history
On the 16th of May 1827, Pierre Cuypers was born in Roermond, Limburg. He became a wellknown Dutch architect, mostly known for his design of the Rijksmuseum and the Amsterdam Central Station.
His father painted a lot of artwork in church, which influenced Cuypers’ own interest in the arts and churches. In his lifetime, he would design over a 100 churches, 70 of which were built. He studied Architecture at the Art Academy in Antwerp in 1844, where he was taught by Durlet, Stoop and Berckmans. The trio were pioneers of the Neogothic style in Belgium, a style Cuypers used as well. Like other Neogothic architects, Cuypers was heavily influenced by the French gothic style of the 13th century.
He returned to Roermond in 1851, where he became the offical city architect. He was one of the first Dutch architects to really use the Neogothic style, and with its many arches and grandness is quite suitable if you want an impressive church.
Cuypers’ Neogothic designs caught the attention of the Catholic church in the Netherlands, which led to quite a few designs from Cuypers, like the Saint Catharina church in Eindhoven, which took six years to build. He was also involved in the restoring of old churches, and often didn’t restore a church to its original state, but added or removed towers or other parts to fit his vision.
His Catholic leanings became a bit of an issue when he was asked to design the Rijksmuseum in the 1870s. His initial design was considered too Catholic. He also designed a few outbuildings for the Rijksmuseum, one of which housed an art school where Cuypers taught.
He married twice, but his first wife and second daughter died from tuberculosis. From his second marriage he had two sons and three daughters, and one of the sons, Joseph, also became an architect. Cuypers remained an active architect well into his old age. The last church he designed was built in 1914, but in the following years he still occupied himself with restoring other old buildings. He eventually died in Roermond on the 3rd of March 1921.
(Above: Amsterdam Central Station, also a design of Pierre Cuypers)
For the first time since 2004 the Netherlands will take part in the finale of the Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden. Anouk, a wellknown Dutch singer, is competing with Birds.
The semi-finales were introduced in 2004, and all countries apart from the hostcountry and the Big Five (Italy, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and France) would compete for spots in the finale. The Netherlands holds the record for longest time not competing in the finale.
Back in 2004, the Netherlands made it through to the finale with Re-Union and their song Without You, which ended as 20th out of 24. On Saturday, we’ll find out if Anouk can do better.
The Netherlands has won the Eurovision Song Contest four times, the last time was in 1975. The country has also come last four times, back in the 1950s and 1960s.
On this day in Dutch history
On the 14th of May 1940, the Nazis bombed Rotterdam at 13:30.
The Nazis had invaded the Netherlands on the 10th of May 1940, and this bombing was a response to the resistance from the Dutch. Certain key places like the Afsluitdijk (which connects Friesland to Noord-Holland), the Grebbenberg (a strategically placed hill near Utrecht, and also the location of the Dutch military cemetery since 1945) and the Moerdijk bridges, which connects Zuid-Holland to Noord-Brabant were heavily defend by the Dutch.
The Nazi plan was to have a quick march through Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands so they would be able to attack France from the north. The resistance in these areas slowed the Germans down. While Luxembourg surrendered after one day of fighting, Belgium fought for 18 days. Both countries were also invaded on the 10th of May.
Annoyed that their quick invasion schemes were being thwarted, the Nazis bombed Rotterdam on the 14th, after already bombing the southern parts of Rotterdam on the 10th of May. Nazi soldiers had parachuted down to take the city, but the Dutch marines stopped them at the bridges over the Maas.
On the morning of the 14th, the Nazi commander sent both Colonel Scharroo, who commanded the troops in Rotterdam, and the Mayor of Rotterdam an ultimatum demanding their surrender. The letter wasn’t properly signed, and Scharroo felt this was far too vague a letter to take seriously and passed it to his commanding general, who demanded a properly signed ultimated from the Nazis, also to buy themselves time.
While General Schmidt, upon hearing this, wanted to delay the bombing because he saw opportunities to negotiate a surrender, his orders to delay the bombing came too late. The aeroplanes had already left. General Schmidt never got the message that those aeroplanes had departed, so he didn’t fire the flares that was the agreed signal for the bombers to hold their bombs.
A last-minute attempt to fire the flares didn’t work, and the bombs were dropped over Rotterdam and some of the surrounding countryside. After the bombing, Colonel Scharroo and the mayor of Rotterdam surrendered the city.
Huge parts of Rotterdam were destroyed, and over 800 people died. At least 24,000 homes, 32 churches and 2 synagogue were destroyed. This left over 80,000 people homeless. The Nazis then threatened to bomb Utrecht, which led to the official Dutch surrender on the 15th of May, as signed by General Winkelman.
Not all bombs exploded, which means that occasionally bombs are found that need to be disarmed, even as recent as 2010.
(Above: Rotterdam after most of the debris was removed.)
On this day in Dutch history
On the 13th of May 1619, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was executed. Van Oldenbarnevelt was one of the most powerful politicans in the first half of the Dutch Revolt against Spain.
His father had a bad reputation as a drinker and occasional criminal, and when Johan inherited from his mother’s family at an early age, he was independent. He chose to leave his hometown of Amersfoort to work afor a lawyer in the Hague, and he went on to study Law at various European universities.
In 1572, he joined William of Orange in Delft. He was more a political man, and became the Pensionary of Rotterdam in 1575, using his hard work and intelligence in various negotiations. He joined the committees on finances and the marine of the States of Holland in 1579, and became a confidante of William of Orange in 1582.
In 1584, William of Orange was assassinated. His eldest son, Philip William, was a prisoner in Spain, and his second son, Maurits, was only 16 years old. Van Oldenbarnevelt argued that Maurits should take on the duties of William of Orange as the new Stadtholder. Van Oldebarnevelt, meanwhile, became the Land’s Advocate and Pensionary of Holland. Since Holland was the most powerful province, this meant Van Oldebarnevelt had a lot of power as well.
Officially, the Land’s Advocate was more a spokesman on behalf of the Stadtholder, but Van Oldebarnevelt also chaired important meetings and hardly any piece of legislature was passed without being seen by him. He was the centre of the Dutch political web at the time, and known for his knowledge and reluctance to let anyone assist him with his work.
As Maurits was more of a soldier and armyman and didn’t like politics, he was more than happy to let Van Oldebarnevelt take care of the political side of things. At first, the two worked together just fine, and the Dutch Republic had some great military and political successes in the 1590s. The start of the VOC in 1602, the multinational trading company, added to the Republic’s wealth greatly. And, of course, Van Oldebarnevelt was involved in the start-up of that as well.
However, in 1600 after the Battle at Nieuwpoort, things started to get worse. Maurits had felt that a battle against the pirates at Dunkerk was too risky, and he ended up having to do battle against a Spanish army on the beaches of Nieuwpoort. While Maurits narrowly managed to win, he refused to continue to Dunkerk and was furious with Van Oldebarnevelt.
Their relationship remained stable enough until 1609, the year the Twelve Year Truce started. Maurits the military man was suddenly forced to deal with politics, which exacerbated the tension between him and Van Oldebarnevelt. Maurits was also bitter because, at a time where the Spanish were at their weakest, they were in a truce rather than finishing them off.
Tensions within the Protestant community rose during the Truce as well, and Van Oldebarnevelt and Maurits were on opposing sides. Van Oldebarnevelt felt that they should tolerate different forms of Protestantism within one country, while Maurits wanted one strong united Calvinist church. The theological conflict and the political conflict had become one.
This led to provinces fighting against each other as well, threatening the unity of the country. Van Oldebarnevelt passed resolutions that gave cities in Holland permission to hire mercenaries. This undermined Maurits’ authority as Commander of the Dutch army, which led to Maurits committing a coup d’etat in August 1618.
Maurits had Van Oldebarnevelt and some of his political allies (like Hugo de Groot) arrested on suspicion of high treason, and fired some political enemies of himself. By 1619, the court that would decide on whether or not Van Oldebarnevelt was guilty of treason was mainly made up of Maurits’ political allies.
Van Oldebarnevelt was found guilty on the 12th of May 1619. Because of his status, he had expected his political allies to object to the decision, but Maurits had replaced most of them by then. Van Oldebarnevelt could have asked for a retrieve, but that would have meant implicitly admitting he was guilty, which Van Oldebarnevelt felt he wasn’t.
He was executed the next day at the Binnenhof in The Hague. With his official last words, he defended his innocence and status as a patriot. His actual last words were ‘Make it brief’. While these could have been aimed at his executioner, it is likelier he directed them at his servant who wanted to say goodbye.
(Above: A portrait of Johan van Oldebarnevelt by Michiel Janszoon van Mierevelt.)