Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Guilty places

A guilty place is a concept of the Durch artist Armando. Woods and trees are especially suspect:

The edge of a wood, for example. The trees in front must have witnessed some things. The trees behind them, you can hardly blame them, they could never see anything. But the edge of the wood, the forest border, it has seen things happen. There are many forest edges, here and there, about which I know a few things. I visit them occasionally. I have been taught that I should not blame them for anything.

Tomas Ross (crime author) and Iona Hogendoorn (photographer) have written a book about Guilty places in the Netherlands. They present 41 places where something violent and dramatic has happened in both ancient and recent Dutch history.

On the left Strand Nulde where the body parts of a 4-year old girl were found in august 2001. The girl was systematically mistreated by her stepfather with fatal results. Then her mother and the stepfather disposed of the body by dumping it at a deserted beach near the highway.
On the right the Hoekpolderviaduct in Rijswijk where four teenagers threw a sidewalk tile through the windscreen of a car on the highway below. The 30-year old woman driver later died in hospital.

It is always good to remember victims and to protect their names from oblivion. And to remember how unnecessary their deaths were. Recently I discovered another Dutch guilty place that would have deserved a place in this book. So I must write about it, so it is not forgotten.

On Monday, 7 October 1946 a plane crashed into the gym at the christian high school at the Jachtlaan in Apeldoorn. The building collapsed, leaving 22 boys dead. Five pupils and their teacher survived the disaster.

The crash was caused by the 23-year-old sergeant-pilot Max Christern who had permission to make a half-hour solo flight near the Valkenburg airbase, to get acquianted with the Firefly airplane. But against all rules, he flew directly to Apeldoorn to greet his mother. He performed a few stunts above the market square and did some low flying stunts near the Jachtlaan. In one maneuver he lost control. The right wing hit the school and the Firefly crashed on the roof of the gym, where 27 boys of class 2C were training. The fuel tank ripped open and flaming fuel flowed through the broken roof. Burning students jumped into the school pond. Twenty-two fourteen-year old boys died. The pilot Max Christern died instantly. His mother died of a heart attack when she heard the tragic news.

This was not the only time that pilots from the Valkenburg airbase ignored the regulations:
  • In 1946 another Firefly made and emergency landing in Calais when the crew was supposed to make a reconnaisance flight above The Netherlands only.
  • In 1965 two drunk aircraft repairmen took off in a Neptune airplane and crashed in the North sea.
Even today there a rumors of dangerous stunts by military pilots like flying under transmission lines, bridges and flying so low that the propellers leave two furrows in the reedland. This is not commonly known.

Tomas Ross & Iona Hogendoorn, Schuldige plaatsen in Nederland, 2007, Thomas Rap, Amsterdam
Marc van Alphen, Willem Geneste en Prudent Staal, 'Terg mij niet' De geschiedenis van marinevliegkamp Valkenburg, Van Wijnen, Franeker, 2007

1 comment:

  1. O, bomen!

    Me likey da blog mon, 'ear me now.