Explore the Kasteel Huis Bergh (Bergh House Castle) in ‘s-Heerenberg, The Netherlands

This afternoon my relatives took me to a former family home in Terborg, in the one-time municipality of Wisch which is now known as Oude IJsselstreek (literally, ‘old IJssel region’). From Eibergen, Terborg is a 35-minute drive to the south-west.

My Dutch cousin’s grandparents lived at Terborg for more than 60 years, and my cousin has fond memories of visiting their home as a child and teenager.

Immediately after the end of WW2, my father sought out surviving relatives and, seemingly not finding any, decided to make a new life by signing up for the Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger, or KNIL (Royal Netherlands East Indies Army). Somehow my father did not realise that one of his father’s brothers had managed to see out WW2 while living at Terborg.

From Terborg we travelled to ‘s-Heerenberg, a Dutch town of about 8,000 people on the Dutch-German border, about 12 km south of Doetinchem.

‘s-Heerenberg is the location of one of the most important castles in all of The Netherlands – the Kasteel Huis Bergh (Bergh House Castle). It was built for the counts of Bergh, starting in the year 1250. Some parts of the Castle date from the 14th, 15th and 17th centuries.

The Castle and all its belongings were acquired in 1912 by Dr Jan Herman van Heek (1873-1957), a textile industrialist from Enschede and a significant collector of artworks and historical artefacts.

There are important early Italian paintings on display including a very special panel – depicting the angel Gabriel – by the world famous Duccio di Buoninsegna circa 1255-1319, who is generally known as Maestà. There are also works from the 15th century Hieronymus Bosch school, including The Marriage Feast at Cana.

The Castle also houses an exceptional collection of medieval manuscripts which Dr van Heek procured when he acquired the entire Friedrich Wilhelm Mengelberg Collection in 1919 after the death of the German-Dutch sculptor, architect of church interiors, and art collector.

The Castle is enclosed by an embankment which gives access to wooded grounds called De Plantage (plantation). These grounds were laid out in the 18th century. The embankment used to have an inner and an outer moat.

I felt a connection here at Kasteel Huis Bergh. The Castle’s modern-day owner, the van Heek family, has for generations owned Het Assinkbos, a 66ha section of forest south of Haaksbergen where 22 members and friends of my family attempted to hide in a secret underground dug-out in 1942. They were betrayed, captured, deported and soon died.

While I was in The Netherlands in October 2017 Mr Bernard Rouffaer, a member of the van Heek family, generously hosted a commemorative event at the place in the Assinkbos where the hide-out was made. For more information, visit https://www.tubantia.nl/achterhoek/nazaten-joodse-onderduiker-bezoeken-plek-verraden-schuilplaats-bij-eibergen~a5e7634b/.

My family was similarly honoured when Mr Rouffaer attended the stolpersteine (‘stumbling stones’) laying ceremony in Eibergen earlier today.

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