Golden wedding

The two chapels on the corner of Nieuwstraat/Holz Kerkrade Municipal Archives)


On 7 February 1954, the Dutch Creutzer-Quadvlieg family celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. They lived in the mining community at 127 Nieuwstraat.
Traditionally, a couple celebrating their golden anniversary were accompanied by the music of a brass band. The band would march to the home of the couple, then lead them from their home to the service in the church.
However, a new law had recently been introduced in the Netherlands, the 1953 Sunday Law, which replaced the previous law of 1815. Among other things, it banned public events of a non-religious nature until 1 PM on Sundays and Christian holidays, and music was not allowed to be heard within a radius of 200 metres.

The St. Cecilia Harmony, known as ‘Auw Harmonie’, was planning to continue the tradition to the letter that morning under the leadership of Frans Willem Ploum. The chapel practiced in the morning in their local café in the market in Kerkrade, after which they marched in formation under the leadership of F.W. Ploum past the front of the café at 12:20 PM through Holzstraat towards 127 Nieuwstraat, to the house of the Creutzer-Quadvlieg family. This marching music was heard by police officers on duty in Kerkrade that day. In Nieuwstraat, they ordered the band to stop and asked who led them. Mr Ploum duly informed the officers that he was leading the band, without being aware that the band was breaking the law. The officers insisted on compliance with the Sunday law, prohibited the band form playing any more music, and drew up a report.

A lot of drama for the simple celebration of a golden wedding anniversary. For the Creutzer-Quadvlieg couple, it meant the band could not play in front of their house, and no music would accompany the procession to the Catharina Church in Kerkrade.

Their musician friends from Strass had already noticed at the border that Auw Harmonie had been ordered to stop playing. The musicians from the brass bands in Kerkrade and Herzogenrath/Strass, who were closely connected, soon came up with a plan. To the surprise of the couple, the Herzogenraths Kapelle Strass 1880 e.V. brass band marched on the German side on the Neustrasse, under the direction of the then conductor Heinrich Kebeck, where there was no ban on music. The brass band accompanied the procession along Neustrasse to the exit at the intersection with Holzstraat towards Kerkrade and the Catherine Church, in silence, without playing. However, the music emanating from the Strass brass band more than 200 metres away could clearly be heard. As can be seen in the photo, the community showed a keen interest in the event. It was a perfect example of neighbours helping each other out!

All over the Netherlands, newspapers reported on this event the following day, 8 February 1954. In the Zuid-Limburger, the event even made it to the front page: “Tradition had to bow to the new Sunday law – exception in the law for the South?”

Since the police officers had officially written a report and the press also covered this event so big, this “incident” also became a topic for politics. In the Kerkrad municipal council, already on 09.02.1954, i.e. two days after the move, appropriate resolutions were brought forward to improve the law. There was also a lively exchange with the provincial government in Maastricht. The incident and its consequences were debated for years (Kerkrade Archives: file number st00001266).

To the newspaper article
08.02.1954 De Volkskrant „Tradition in Kollision mit dem Gesetzbuch – Kerkrade verstößt mit lauter Musik gegen neues Sonntagsgesetz“

To the newspaper article
08.02.1954 Overijsselsch dagblad

To the newspaper article
08.02.1954 De waarheid

To the newspaper article
08-02-1954 Limburgsch dagblad „Kerkrade demonstriert gegen das neue Sonntagsgesetz“

To the newspaper article
08-02-1954 De Zuid-Limburger

To the newspaper article
08-02-1954 Nieuwe Haarlemsche courant

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Eyewitness report

Contemporary Witnesses – Bert Schiffelers

Bert Schiffelers was 4 years old at the time and a neighbour’s child of the Creutzer-Quadvlieg family. The little boy had a close friendship with Mr Creutzer. The pensioner took the little boy, who was often bored because his older siblings were all at school, with him in the mornings on his rounds through the settlement, to run errands and visit the baker and cobbler to hear the news from the community. On the morning of the golden wedding anniversary, a carriage with four black horses pulled up in front of the house, and Bert began to cry terribly. For he only knew a carriage with horses from funerals, when the deceased were collected. So he assumed that his surrogate uncle had died. The adults could only convince him with great difficulty that everything was all right and that he need not worry about his great friend.