Gelderland has some 200 WWII 'offender heritage' sites: study

Gelderland has at least 200 locations that can be considered 'offender heritage' from the Second World War, according to the first ever extensive historical study into offender heritage, De Gelderlander reports. The "Laden Heritage" list includes locations like the Seyss-Inquart bunker in Apeldoorn, Sicherheitsdienst (SD) office in Arnhem, prison De Kruisberg in Doetinchem, the Mussert Wall in Lunteren, Jewish labor camps, and NSB children's homes, according to the newspaper.

The study was conducted by the WO2GLD foundation and Radboud University Nijmegen. This is the first time that offender heritage is mapped in the Netherlands in this way. The topic has always been considered too sensitive. "Only in the past few years has there been room to also look at the perpetrator heritage", historian Machlien Vlasblom, who carried out the research, said to the newspaper. "You see that more and more. Look at the home of the camp commander of Westerbork with a glass cover over it, or the bunkers along the coast that are being exposed."

The goal of this research is to provide more knowledge and insight, and to contribute to the social debate on how to deal with laden heritage. "We want to put the locations in the spotlight, not to preserve them, but to make the environment more aware of it, so that the story can be told", Vlasblom said. "That is also important for the commemoration in the future, when there are no more eyewitnesses. You can only celebrate freedom if you know what captivity is."

The Netherlands' institute for war documentation NiOD followed this Gelderland study with great interest. "I don't know of a similar study yet", director Frank van Vree said to the Gelderlander. "It is interesting that this is happening now and it fits with the times. Because with the changing of generations, the remembrance culture is also changing. Later generations cannot recall the war in their memory and need elements such as objects, buildings, diaries and documents. As anchorages to remind us of the evil. The offender heritage is also part of this."