From the collection of the National Clock & Peel Museum, Asten
h 41 cm x ø 39 cm
In September 1942, the Germans enacted a measure that made many of the Dutch extremely angry: they seized bronze church bells to melt them down for canons and ammunition.
In October 1942, Reichskommissar (Nazi Governor) of the Netherlands Seyss-Inquart reacted to the anger with surprise. He expected the Dutch to gladly sacrifice their bells for the war effort: ‘...to protect your borders from Bolshevism’. The Germans made use of an idea originally thought up by the Dutch during the mobilization. The actual confiscation of bells during the war was placed primarily in the hands of a construction company in Limburg owned by P.J. Meulenberg, who came to be known as Peter Bells. During the busiest period, he had eight teams on the road with each ‘doing’ two towers a day, stealing a total of 6,700 bells from Dutch churches. Approximately one third escaped being melted down and were later recovered. This particular bell was removed from the church tower in Nunhem in December 1942, but it was spared to serve as an alarm bell in the village of Vreeswijk during the war.