August Vogt, Artis, Amsterdam, 1920’s
August Vogt, Artis, Amsterdam, 1920’s
In 2015 I was in Beek near Nijmegen, where I have lived from 1987 to 1994.
This is the view from a 5 minute walk from my home there.
What you see is the valley where the river Rhine enters the Netherlands.
The low hills on the horizon (North) are the sandy high grounds of the North East of the country, on the extreme Northern tip of which, 200 km away, lies the city of Groningen.
The Romans built a fortress town here at the border of their Empire. In the valley there lived the tribe of the Batavi, who were dedicated soldiers in the Roman army. On the Northern high ground there lived Chamavi and in the North at the coast Chauci. In the marshy areas of the West there lived old Frisians.
The Roman area belonged to the military district of Germania Inferior, which itself was part of the province of Gallia Belgica.
The capital of Germania Inferior was Cologne, which would remain one the largest cities North of the Alps throughout the Middle Ages, and became the Catholic capital of everything up to the North Sea coast.
From the Chamavi and neighbours there would come the Franks, who occupied Germania Inferior, when the Roman legions were gone fighting civil wars. Those Franks took over the border guard for the Roman Empire in Germania Inferior, and when the Roman power broke down further South, they got to rule all of Gallia. They converted to Catholicism to use the literacy of the church to help them govern an empire.
The Germans of the North East that didn’t become Franks formed the Saxons, some of which, mostly from the coast, migrated to Britannia with the Angles where they would form England.
This valley near Beek was the South Western corner of the Saxon lands.
To the South it was Frankish, and to the North West it was Frisian.
Until the 8th century, when the Franks conquered Frisia and Saxony.
It will come as pleasant news to all those who have read Jan van Apeldoorn’s book “Departure Delayed” to learn that his wife Rita, who shared his adventures in Nazi-occupied Europe and Java, attacked by the Japanese, but whom he had to leave behind at Bandoeng, came safely through the occupation and has been recuperating with her husband in Sydney.
M. Jan van Apeldoorn, whose real name is Jan Nils Vogt, wrote “Departure Delayed” after his arrival in Australia from Java and it was first published in 1943. In it he tells the story of the perilous journey through Europe which he and his wife made together (mostly on a bicycle-built-for-two), to escape the Nazi occupation. The keynote of the book is the companionship with which they shared adventures and discomfort – a companionship which made the sad parting, on which note the book ends, all the more poignant.
When Mr Vogt was ordered out of Java on official business, he did not anticipate that conditions woud be such that his wife’s evacuation would become an impossibility, and he himself at that time expected to return. But the end came in Java soon after he reached Australia, so his book was dedicated to “My brave companion Rita, for whom departure was once too often delayed.” At the time of writing it, , he had no clue to her fate, in fact he concludes by saying, “Ships that escaped from Tjilatjap were heavily bombed … all that is known is that several which left Tjilatjap were sunk, presumably with all hands. Whether Rita was on board one of those ships I do not know. I do not even know whether she got away from Bandoeng.”
Fortunately, perhaps as things turned out, Mrs. Vogt did not get away, but was interned in Batavia and reached Australia safely after the liberation. But once more her departure is to be delayed. Her husband has left on his return to Holland, but she cannot get a ship until next month.
Signed by the author
The author is the son of photographer August Vogt
Groningen from the outside, from the South-West to the North-East, around the West, always under the eye of the Martinitoren.
New houses in Eelderwolde, just in the province of Drenthe.
From the Kraanland, (crane land), former marsh, the most Western part of the Gorecht, the jurisdiction around the former King’s court in Groningen, the Martinitoren peaks above the tree line.
Behind the flood fields of the sugar factory, where sediments in process water deposit.
The sugar factory.
City outskirts in the polder De Held in Liewerderwolde, part of the Frisian shire Middag (middle isle).
Silhouette from the North West
This small mound, erected 50 BC alongside a stream, is thought to have been the house place of a headman Liewe, after whom this place was called Liewerd (mound of Liewe), and the former peat moor to the South Liewerderwolde.
Canal crossing with locks and pumping station.
A Groninger tjalk heading for the Wadden Sea
Friendly bull with other cattle
Along the former meanders of the river Hunze under the eye of the Martinitoren, close to the triple country point of Middag, Gorecht, and Ubbega (upper shire).
Water mill in a former river meander that has been lowered by the mediaeval removal of the upper layer of clay for bricks.
Many lines in the province converge on the Martinitoren.
Silhouette from the North.
The following seven church towers have all been photographed from the same point …
… three towers in Bedum. The thick slanted one is the oldest of all, dating from the 11th century AD, when this was the pilgrimage of Saint Walfridus …
… Noordwolde …
… Zuidwolde …
… and Martinitoren and Akerk in Groningen.
Zuidwolde along the canal Boterdiep, which, as the name shows, carried dairy to the market in Groningen.
There is a café over there.
This pump station became necessary after the natural gas exploitation caused the province to sink. There is a passage for canoes.
The old entrance road of the village of Winsum
Here one can see the start of the elevation of the old mound on which Winsum was built
The church …
.. with the Calvinist optimism showing at the doorway …
… this part of the roof is still original 13th century, with the barrel style roof tiles …
… the old graveyard is in deep shadows.
The bridge that connects the two mounds of Winsum and Obergum …
… leading to the centre market …
… where I had lunch in the Golden Carp, anno 17th century.
Winsum was on the way to become a city in the 11th century, when they got mint right, market right, and the typical urban order of the Dominicans founded a monastery there. It was written that its mound was so large that there were trees, otherwise unknown in brackish Frisia.
But the city of Groningen frustrated that ambition, as they wouldn’t tolerate another city downstream of the river Hunze.
One of the secondary streets ascending to the centre.
The ruins of an old brick furnace between Winsum and Onderdendam.
The tiny village of Onderdendam consists mostly of stately building of the united water boards that resided here at this junction of drainage canals.
On the road towards Warffum, still between the pastures.
There is Warffum on the horizon, on the Hogeland – high land – the former coastal ridge of sabulous clay that is perfect for high yield agriculture, with here a wheat field.
Ruinous farm shed.
The village of Warffum, the largest mound village of the province.
Warffum has its own high school – with all levels, including a classical education – which serves all of the North of the province.
Farm with wheat field, and an old sea dike at the horizon. Today there is more land beyond that dike.
A large potato-mash factory amidst potato fields.
The Breedenborg, a 16th century mansion.
These bins are place along the bicycle routes, so people can throw in their garbage while cycling along. They are very effective.
On the mound of Rasquert, next to Baflo.
The harbour of Baflo.
On the way back I followed a very dark, very large rain cloud. On the outskirts of Groningen I saw the result of the short but heavy showers, that left the warm tarmac steaming with vapour.
Leaving Groningen towards the West
Through the Peizermaden (meadows of Peize) towards the Peizerdiep (deep – waterway – of Peize)
Blaarkop cows in front of the sugar factory of Hoogkerk
The spire of the church of Midwolde can be seen at 10 km distance, on the horizon, just right of the centre. To the right the sail of a boat on the Leekstermeer (lake of Leek).
Grebe in the Onlanden along the Peizerdiep
Bicycle road over the Roderwolderdijk – the late 12th century sea-dike running all the way to Friesland.
Livestock in the fields of Leutingewolde
Dairy cattle near Sandebuur.
Closer to Midwolde
Midwolde Church seen from the South.
Fulling’s painting of Midwolde. This perspective from the North-East is blocked today by trees and farms.