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Stadskanaal Commemorative Handkerchief

Commemorative embroidery from Stadskanaal, The Netherlands, 1945, a reminder of the chaotic post-war period. Commemorative embroidery from Stadskanaal, The Netherlands, 1945, a reminder of the chaotic post-war period. Courtesy Textile Research Centre, Leiden, acc. no. TRC 2015.0193.

An embroidered kerchief from the small town of Stadskanaal in the northeast of The Netherlands is an example of a commemorative embroidery, albeit on a small scale and of a somewhat unexpected character, a reminder of unsavoury aspects of recent Dutch history.

The kerchief is worked in a red and beige cotton thread. The decoration includes a central, embroidered text that reads "Stadskanaal I.K. 17-5-1945 Ons Belang 5-9-45." Surrounding this central text are 25 embroidered signatures. 

Stadskanaal is a town in the province of Groningen. Ons Belang ('Our interest') was a company producing strawboard. In May 1945 it ws turned into an internment camp (the I.K. stands for Internerings Kamp), to house detainees who had been arrested for collaboration with the Germans. One of the detainees, whose name is embroidered on the kerchief, is that of Tony Bijland, who was a female swimmer and who in the early 1940s joined various swimming contests organised by the Germans. In various wartime newspaper articles she is linked to the Jeugdstorm, the Dutch equivalent of the German Hitler Jugend.

Why the detainees embroidered their names on the kerchief remains unknown.

The handkerchief is now in the collection of the Textile Research Centre (TRC), Leiden, TRC 2015.0193.

See also a TRC Needles entry on a WW II embroidered apron.

TRC online catalogue (retrieved 17 May 2021).

GVE

Last modified on Monday, 17 May 2021 09:28