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Sunday 15th September. We were free for the early part of the morning as the chapel was being used for eucharist. So I went out for a short walk with Clementine and Mariske. The first thing I saw of note was a huge pile of sugar beet, a first for me.

A pleasure lake pleases both humans and cormorants
Two adjacent fields were full of wild geese, Barnacle and Greylag. The farmers do not like them, I was told.
Clementina and Mariske did not take much persuading to climb onto this sculpture ‘The sunken windmill’, on the site of a real one which had stood here from about 1300 until 1929

After a late morning rehearsal and lunch, we piled into a coach to be taken to what had, until recent renewal and enlargement, been called the Nationaal Bevreijdingsmuseum (National Liberation Museum). Having just reopened on 1st September, it was now called the Vreiheidts Museum (Freedom Museum). The Museum was the sponsor of our entire weeklong visit. The journey to Groesbeek took about 45 minutes.

Passing via Nijmegen, we crossed the Waal, a distributary of the Rhine.

As we arrived, a Dutch Band, calling itself Bill Baker’s Big Band, was playing American dance music of the ‘forties.

We stood and listened for a while, before moving to the museum itself.

The museum itself may be finished, but its landscaping has not quite yet been completed. Its dome is reminiscent of a parachute.

Once inside we assembled in the café, were given vouchers for refreshments to be taken later, and were welcomed by the Director of the Museum.

Items on sale
I don’t think this radio equipment was on sale!
Beatrix and the Director of the Museum, Wiel Lenders

As planned, we moved back to the performing area,

and sang four short items from our programme, not under the tent but in front of it. The woman singing with the band had been amplified and I was a little concerned that the audience would not be captured by our acoustic sound, but they were, and were highly appreciative. I was delighted to find that we had been singing under the EU flag.

After refreshments, we were then free to look around the museum. This was very comprehensive, and dealt fully with the build-up to WWII, its roots in WWI, poverty and unemployment, the rise of Nazism, and moved on to the course of the war, particularly as it affected the Netherlands. Here are just a few of the many photos I took, some of them not as focussed as they might have been by my less than steady hand in dim light.

A short film introducing the Museum
It was inevitable that much of the explanation had to be in text panels. These were in Dutch, English and German.
Unemployment leading to unrest
The outbreak of war, and Nazi occupation of surrounding countries. (I use the word ‘Nazi’ deliberately. I learnt later in the week that one of the two brave Germans in our group was very uncomfortable at the use of the ‘German’ in connection with the events.)
A reference to WWII in other parts of the world
The stories of individuals
A German (I can’t avoid the word here) one-person bunker, offering protection against flying shrapnel and shells.
American carrier pigeon’s uniform. Pigeons ‘were normally transported in cages. This uniform was used for short transports during which a pigeon could be tied to a soldier’s uniform with a piece of string. Paratroopers sometimes jumped with the carrier pigeon strapped against their chest.’
My time started running out. I had no time left to sit down, choose my language, and watch the mock up of the progress of the Operation.
A photo of a small part of the parachute drops in September 1944.
And I just had to rush through the last sections of the Museum

As I went round, I felt so strongly that our current politicians, many of them a near generation younger than me, should be obliged to visit this museum to understand what the EU is really all about, and why it was created.

This was ironically brought home even more as we realised that our route home was actually taking us through a small corner of Germany. Only the yellow street signs told us we had crossed a country border.