Dutch gov't preparing to recover dozens of WWII plane wrecks

Kasja Ollongren
Kasja Ollongren. Photo: Rijksoverheid / Wikimedia Commons

A broadly shared wish of Dutch parliamentarians to recover dozens of World War II aircraft wrecks with missing crew members, is one step closer. The government is launching an "national program" to recover these wrecks, Ministers Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs and Ank Bijleveld of Defense said in a letter to parliament, NOS reports.

With this program Ollongren and Bijleveld want to do justice to the wishes of killed crew members' surviving relatives. They also see it as "a meaningful gesture with regards to the celebration of 75 years of liberation in 2020", they wrote in their letter to the Tweede Kamer.

During the Second World War, some 5,500 aircraft were lost in the Netherlands, many of which are still in the Dutch soil. It is believed that some 400 of these lost planes still contain the remains of crew members, the Ministers wrote. A recent study showed that there are only 30 to 50 places where physical remains can be found with some certainty, they said. This national program will focus on those "promising recoveries". 

A working group, consisting of representatives of involved municipalities and the Study Group Air War 1939-1945 among others, will be established. This group will advise on promising recovery possibilities. The municipalities will decide whether or not to carry out the salvaging operation, the State will cover the costs.

If 30 plane wrecks are salvaged, the total costs of the operation will amount to around 15 million euros.  

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