A Dutch scholar is searching history archives for a copy of a black-and-white film her country produced to thank New York’s capital for the aid it provided to the Netherlands’ oldest city as it recovered from the devastation caused by one of World War II’s biggest battles.
Anja Adriaans, an independent scholar working on behalf of Radboud University in Nijmegen, has spent the past week scouring archival collections at the Albany Institute of History & Art, the New York State Library and the Albany County Hall of Records. She’s searching for a copy of “This is Nijmegen,” a short film the Dutch government commissioned after the war to generate donations for Nijmegen’s reconstruction and to thank Albany for donating 300 tons of supplies.
Nobody has located a copy of the film in either the U.S. or Europe.
“I won’t give up,” Adriaans, 56, told the Times Union of Albany. “I am on a mission.”
The film was shown in Albany movie theaters in 1950, three years after the city sent food, medical supplies, clothing, building materials and other humanitarian aid to Nijmegen. Albany, settled by the Dutch in the early 1600s, forged a postwar bond with Nijmegen that led to the upstate city starting its popular Tulip Festival in 1949, followed a decade later by a visit from Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands.
Much of Nijmegen was destroyed and thousands of its residents were killed or wounded during Operation Market Garden in September 1944. After heavy fighting, British and American troops were able to secure the Nijmegen Bridge over the Waal River, one of several German-held spans that were the objective of the Allied operation later depicted in the 1977 film “A Bridge Too Far.”
Adriaans said she wants to find a copy of “This is Nijmegen” so she can use it to teach young people there about a part of their city’s history that many older residents would rather forget.
“People in Nijmegen tried to forget about it and to move on,” she said. “It wasn’t talked about.”
Although her search hasn’t yielded any results yet, she received encouragement from Prentiss Carnell, longtime library volunteer who inventoried the audio-video material.
“I won’t say it’s not here,” Carnell said. “Things we don’t know about pop up sometimes.”
Information from: Times Union, http://www.timesunion.com