Reflections - Kinderdijk and a bridge too far

January 05, 2015  •  4 Comments

Before the cruise, my sister had  told me about Kinderdijk and the windmills that make this enchanting part of Holland famous, but I was unprepared for my reaction. By now, you know I am partial to reflections, and in Kinderdijk, it was of epic "kid in a candy shop" proportions.  I will get to the photographic reflections in a moment but first, a reflection of a historical nature.  

During the windmill walking tour, we went into the maintenance building, where a presentation had just ended.  Men with the road wear of life on their faces and in their bodies, with canes, walkers, and in wheel chairs were leaving as we were entering.  Our tour guide then said something that sent chills up my spine.  These were some of the last survivors of the Battle of Arnhem, part of Operation Market Garden in World War II that began on 17 September and ended on 26 September 1944. We had arrived in Kinderdijk on 19 September on the 70th anniversary of the battle and these were veterans of the battle.  The purpose was to capture bridges and thereby open an entry into Germany on the lower Rhine.  19 September 1944 was day 3, and it did not go well nor entirely as planned, as happens in war and life.  Now we were very nearly rubbing elbows with men who had fought and lived to remember. Although Kinderdijk is closer to Rotterdam than Arnhem, I suspect the land looks similar and much as it did in 1944.  This canal reflection could be almost anywhere in Holland.

Kinderdijk windmillsKinderdijk windmills    

The windmills at Kinderdijk-Eishout are working windmills and have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.  Each has a miller who goes through training and an apprenticeship.  There is a waiting list for the positions.  The mills were originally used to control the level of water.  Although diesel pumping stations now do the work a majority of the time, the mills are still used during extenuating circumstances, and thus, the millers must be prepared.

We took a small motor launch around the windmills first.  They were in the mist, as one would guess they frequently are.  Here is a long shot of a few of the 40+ mills.

Kinderdijk reflection 6Kinderdijk reflection 6

 

And some of the stunning reflections, effects, and rhythm they present simply by being there.

Kinderdijk reflection 3Kinderdijk reflection 3

Kinderdijk reflection 1Kinderdijk reflection 1

Kinderdijk reflection 5Kinderdijk reflection 5

 

More on the mills next week.  Additional information on the Battle of Arnhem and Operation Market Garden can be found in the book by Louis Hagen titled Arnhem Lift, the film Theirs is the Glory, the Cornelius Ryan book A Bridge Too Far, and the Richard Attenborough 1978 film of the same name.

until next Monday,

DB

a passion for the image@


Comments

Robert Upton(non-registered)
This is the sort of thing that gives a personal reflection on history and, of course, tells us that the things we do in our own comunities on a day-today bases are the things that really count, and that ultimately make the history in our text books. Thank you for reminding us
Elida Hanson-Finelli(non-registered)
Thank you Daryl…
Exquisite photos. so subtle yet emotionally powerful. I also love the story of the Mills and the WWII references. I am currently reading a novel which revolves around this period of time. What synchronicity! I am impressed and inspired. Thank you……. elida
Steve Immel(non-registered)
It seems I’m always saying “best yet” when I’ve read one of your posts from Europe. And here I go again. This one soars on two levels. First, the description you give of the reunion of the old gladiators to Kinderdijk is poignant and lyrical. Your good fortune to have been there at the moment when men in their nineties returned to the fields where so much was won and so much lost is a small miracle. What a rich experience that must have been. And the two images of the single windmills and their reflections are absolute gems. Great work!
Chuck Woodburn(non-registered)
Beautiful and amazing Daryl. Thank you for putting us in touch with history. In the rush of everyday events we too often subordinate important historical events to books on library shelves that go unread.
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