December 1942: Clock stealing in Oude Kerk

On the 23rd of July 1942, the German commissioner Seyss-Inquart issued a metal ordinance. This means that all articles made of copper, lead, tin and nickel are claimed for the benefit of the German war industry. Including 6,700 church bells that were also among the metal goods confiscated 'for the benefit of the Kingdom of the Netherlands'. 

No Makers Marks (M Mark) on the Clocks
In the municipality of Ede, there are about ten bells earmarked for transport. Those from the Reformed churches in Bennekom, Ede, Gelders Veenendaal, Lunteren and Otterlo. Director Pauw of Gemeentewerken Ede wrote a letter to Mayor Van Dierendonck on the 3rd of December 1942: 'the Ede church bells that were made after 1600 have not been 'M' marked. And only clocks with the M Mark are to be spared. The three clocks from Ede, therefore have insufficient historical value, and no exemption is granted. On Christmas Eve, 24th of December, 1942, two of the three bells were removed from the tower of the Oude Kerk: from the years 1922 and 1732; weighing 250 kilograms and 895 kilograms. Men with flat caps roll the bells out using a roller, and eight men use all their strength to get one of the bronze church bells to stand upright instead of laying on its side. Crowds of children are watching. Four days later, on the 28th of December, the last bell is removed from the tower. It dates from 1733 and weighs 1,425 kilograms! All three bells were transferred on the 18th of January, 1943 to a storage facility owned by the Gelderland Tramway Company in Doetinchem.

Tragically, later that year in Ede the bell-ringer has to be buried. This burial includes the traditional 'ringing' of church bells. However, they are no longer there. The neighbourhood devised a solution, they put a turntable in the Oude Kerk and suspended loudspeakers in the tower. In this way, with the help of an amplified sound recording, the deceased bell-ringer is taken to his final resting place, with ringing church bells. The Oude Kerk still had no bells after the war, and unfortunately, searches for the stolen property brought nothing. On the 18th of June, 1949 the Oude Kerk finally received new bells in the tower.

Memories of war locations