At various places in the municipalities of Renkum, Arnhem and the Overbetuwe in The Netherlands, white crosses are glued with kit to World War II monuments.
They are really stuck and perhaps in more places than where they are found this week.
Anyone looking for where the crosses are coming from, will soon find Michel from Groningen. He has been making the crosses that are now glued tightly in various places for about 3 years now. He is aware that they are glued. “I got messages about that immediately after the memorial weekend. But I don’t glue the crosses! I write my name on the back and then place them there. Glue them? No, I would never do that.”
At first Michel made the crosses of wood, but he managed to get some sheet material made of stone. Because he once worked with natural stone and therefore knows how to work with it, he started making them from stone. During commemorations he takes them with him or gives them to others, because he does not place them all by himself. This does not only happen in the Arnhem region, but also in Ypres, Belgium or Limburg, for example.
Sometimes they are gone after that, but sometimes they are still there after a year. “Then I clean them and put them back.” Michel makes the crosses out of respect for the armed forces during the Second World War, but it doesn’t feel the same anymore.
“Whether I should continue with this, I don’t know,” he sighs: “I live too far away (Groningen +/- 200kms) to go and have a look, but I find this really annoying and I am very bothered by it. The crosses that I put down are later glued, or they disappear and then are glued somewhere else where I didn’t leave a cross in the first place. Everyone knows I make those crosses! I’m blamed now, not cool! ”
Michel shows on his Facebook where he places the crosses. In those photos they are clearly not attached. But now they are and were like that during the remembrance week, while only few noticed.
At first it seems as if the cross is just placed against the monument, just as there are often many crosses at monuments after the commemorations, although the thick, white crosses do stand out between the thin wooden crosses, often decorated with a poppy.
Johan Kersenboom from Renkum Leeft reacts surprised and immediately went to check the monument on the Renkum Heath. An attempt to remove the cross succeeded, although a color difference can still be seen. “The monument belongs to the residents of Renkum, they paid for it, so luckily we could solve this ourselves. No, we do not press charges, that may be a bit too much. It must have been done with a good heart, but we hope it will not happen again.”
The spokeswoman of the municipality of Renkum responds in the same vein. “We appreciate the commemoration very much, but not in this way. We are going to see where the crosses are all stuck and remove them. But we are not going to file a report for destruction or something like that, but this is certainly not the intention and we hope that not more crosses glued are found. ”
Driel and Arnhem
In the municipality of Overbetuwe, at the Engineers monument on the Drielse dijk, a cross was also sealed. Here someone removed the cross before the commemoration last Saterday, the kit has remained and the cross is no longer be found. The Polish Square in the same village has also been given a white cross.
“The placement of crosses or wreaths or flowers is of course often done and is totally fine, but this is really not: the monuments must remain untouched. We will see whether we can find out who is behind al this.”
The municipality of Arnhem is aware of the fact that a white cross has been glued to the memorial column in front of the Elisabeth Gasthuis Hospital, but has not yet commented if any further steps are taken.
Commemorate okay but destruction is not
Commemoration is something everyone does in their own way. The many crosses, wreaths, flower arrangements and flowers are witness to this. Usually everything is cleaned up after a while and the monuments look as they were intended again. The gluing of any object is theoretical destruction, so is graffiti for example. It will have to be removed and that simply entails costs. The spokespersons agreed on that.
So should a report of vandalism be filed, those good intentions can result in a peppery bill.