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Nijkerk as a refuge during WWII

Looking for food in Nijkerk during the hunger winter of 1944

Time period: 1944-1945



Realisation project:

Stichting Oud Nijkerk


Timeframe: September 1944 – April 1945
Locatie: Nijkerk, Gelderland
Number of interviews: 10


Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog



A single interview can be seen via:


During the Second World War, the town of Nijkerk in Gelderland was a small, predominantly Christian community of about eleven thousand inhabitants. The residents outside the fortress lived mainly from agriculture. In September 1944, Nijkerk was confronted with a large stream of refugees from the Arnhem area, which had become virtually uninhabitable as a result of the Allied airborne operation Market Garden. Many civilians fled, whether forced by the Germans or not, to safer places. In the winter of 1944-1945 Nijkerk was also visited by thousands of people from the big cities who were on a hunger march. On the busiest days, sometimes around 20,000 people passed through Nijkerk.


As part of the oral history project, interviews were held with residents of Nijkerk who witnessed the large flow of refugees and people looking for food. On the basis of the interviews, it is investigated how the population of the small, close-knit community reacted to the arrival of large groups of people in need. Because the Christian churches played a major role in the social life of Nijkerk, their role is given special attention in the interviews. In addition, the interviewees discuss the events that took place on 1 October 1944 in nearby Putten. That day 
As retaliation for an attack by the resistance, a razzia took place there by order of the German occupying forces, during which almost the entire male labour force was transported to German concentration camps.

Historic fruit farming

Hoogstam fruitbomen met rondscharrelende varkens, Tiel ca. 1940

Time period: 1961-2009
Number of interviews: 28
Period of interviews: 2009

Maptour Oral history Historical fruit farming




number of stories: 27

In 2009, trained volunteers conducted extensive interviews with fruit farmers and farm workers in the river region (oral history). With the consent of the interviewees, the conversations were taped and typed out word for word, after which an easily readable story was written. The project is an activity of the Hoogstamfruit Centre and the Gelderland Foundation for Landscape Management (SLG). The aim of the project was to record the history of fruit cultivation, particularly of standard orchards, while it is still possible. The volunteers were guided by SLG.


Twenty-eight interviews were held with fruit growers and workers in fruit cultivation. The stories are about how things used to be in the standard orchard up until about the 1960s. They are about the place of the orchard in the farm, about seasonal work, about pruning, grafting, spraying the trees and about picking the fruit. The stories also give an overview of all the varieties grown in those days. They are personal stories about their own memories and experiences. Together with the photos that have been taken, the stories give a nice picture of how life in the fruit growing business used to be.


Many of the memories belong to the past. Over the past decades, the situation in fruit growing has changed dramatically. High-growing trees have been replaced by low-growing trees and bushes. The pesticides used have been banned and most of the old fruit varieties have disappeared. To stop the decline of the remaining standard orchards and to keep old varieties alive, the Steunpunt Hoogstamfruit was founded.

Van Hoenderik tot Heerepeer is about historical fruit cultivation in the river area and contains stories about daily life in and around orchards. The booklet contains 27 stories from interviews with farmers and farm workers from eight river region municipalities about the history of standard orchards. This has yielded stories about yellow Californian porridge, poverty and prosperity in fruit growing, mealy Notary apples, hard work in the four seasons and, of course, cherry picking. The project of which this booklet is the final result, was made possible thanks to the support of Steunpunt Hoogstamfruit and its member municipalities: Geldermalsen, Buren, Druten, Beuningen, West Maas and Waal, Zaltbommel, Culemborg and Maasdriel.

Verzameling oude gereedschappen

Life on country estates

Dhr. R. (1929): ''Maar nimt 'm toch maar mit en geef 'm de pastoor maar.''
Werkgroep Oral History Gelderland
Time period: 1920–1950
Number of interviews: 47

Map Tour oral history Leven op landgoederen


In 2012, trained volunteers from the Werkgroep Oral History Gelderland conducted extensive interviews with residents of estates and country houses in Gelderland. With the consent of the interviewees, the conversations were taped and typed out verbatim, after which an easy-to-read story was written. The project was initiated by the Stichting Landschapsbeheer (SLG) with the intention of recording the lives of country estate residents while they still had the opportunity. The volunteers were guided by SLG and Erfgoed Gelderland.


Forty-seven interviews were conducted with owners, tenants, foresters and domestic staff of 30 country estates. The stories form a cross-section of functions at a country estate or country house and cover the period 1920-1950. They are personal stories about their own memories and about what the interviewees still remember from their parents and grandparents. The focus is on the experience of living and working on the country estate. Together with the photographs that were taken, the stories provide a good picture of how life on country estates used to be.


Many of the memories belong to the past. The situation on private country estates in Gelderland has changed dramatically in recent decades. New initiatives have often been necessary for their preservation. And the residents reported on this as well.


This archive is entirely public. This collection contains 47 interviews about life on country estates in the period 1930-1970. Each interview consists of an audio file, a transcription, a story and photographs. For reasons of privacy, the interviews can only be listened to in the reading room of the Gelders Archive. The transcripts of the interviews can also only be viewed in the reading room.


Auteurs : Andre Kaper, Elyze Storms
ISBN : 9789075271614

Uitgever : Blauwdruk
Verschijningsdatum : november 2012

Owners, chambermaids, tenants and foresters. They speak frankly about their lives on a Gelderland estate or a Gelderland country house. Their memories sketch a rich picture of how it used to be here. But also of what it is like now. This book contains stories about Vollenhof, Molecaten, Het Holthuis, Welna, De Dennenhorst, Biljoen, Sint Hubertus, Middachten, Nederhemert, Het Grote Meer, Het Kleine Meer, Keppel, ‘t Zelle, ‘t Medler, Het Enzerinck, De Heest and Ampsen.


The stories have been collected from the idea that living history will be lost if it is not recorded. Volunteers from the Werkgroep Oral History Gelderland conducted extensive interviews. Of the forty-four conversations, twenty were selected for this book. Each story is accompanied by a short description of the landscape and architectural features of the country house or estate. This combination makes it all the more clear how important oral history is for the preservation of the present and future landscape of Gelderland. The Oral History Gelderland working group is an initiative of the Gelderland Foundation for Landscape Conservation.