Germany collects the artefacts from World War I in Westerbroek

Wednesday September 12th, Germany has collected the artefacts that a dive team from Lauwersoog had taken from the wreck of the German cruiser the ‘Mainz’ which perished at Heligoland during the First World War. A conflict had arisen about the artefacts, because Germany believes the Dutch divers should have stayed away from the wreckage. In May of this year, bailiffs acting for Germany, conducted house searches of homes belonging to members of the dive team.

These include a cannon, a helmet and a rifle scope.

RTV Noord – Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 16:12 – Steven Radersma

The wreck dive team, Zeester, was very surprised about the sudden action. Attorney, Jan Maarten Pol said at the time: “In a good mutual consultation, we had agreed and consented to the donation of the artefacts of the Mainz, which we have in our possession, to a museum in Cuxhaven. And then this happened.”

Ultimately, the case has reached an ‘amicable solution’. Wreck dive team, Zeester, handed over the artefacts to employees of the German Military Historical Museum in Dresden. This happened at the premises of one of the divers, in Westerbroek, under the watchful eye of lawyer Hans Mathijsen who was hired by Germany to oversee the action.

According to Mathijsen, our neighbours on the Eastside, feel it is very important to get the artefacts back: ‘Respect. Respect for ownership, for history, and for the relatives. Germany decides for itself what happens to our property and does not want that decision to be made by anyone else.’

Diving knife
Incidentally, it is questionable whether all items that have been collected come from the Mainz. For example, a diving knife was taken, that partly consists of plastic. Therefore, does not originate from the First World War. ‘They may also start to exhibit that knife,’ Pol says with a smile.