Smuggling tunnel

The tunnel under Nieuwstraat from the German to the Dutch side was approximately 70 metres long and 80 cm high. The work along Nieuwstraat on the Dutch side was carried out by the Limagas company. (Kerkrade Municipal Archives)

In 1950, trenches for pipes were dug on the Dutch side of Nieuwstraat, which local children used as an adventure playground.
The ground collapsed under the feet of one Stef Thomas, a boy who lived with Jack Schiffelers and Piet Krings in Nieuwstraat, near house number 133. He was running and jumping in the trenches with his friends, as they made their way home from school.
The resulting cavity was examined a short time later by government and utility personnel, which led to the discovery of an almost finished smuggling tunnel.
The excavated trench had probably reduced the capacity above the tunnel to bear weight to such an extent that the weight of the playing boy was enough to cause it to collapse.
Investigations into who dug the tunnel were fruitless.
Another tunnel used for smuggling was the underground corridor between the Dutch Prick/Neuprick mine and the German Voccart mine.
This connecting corridor was used to drain water in the direction of the River Wurm and to supply fresh air.
When it was discovered that a lot of smuggled goods were probably using it in addition to water, this passage under the national border was blocked with a grate in around 1860.

Peter Dinninghoff

The entrance to the smuggling tunnel on German territory. Only the first section was shored up, which made smuggling through this tunnel a very dangerous undertaking. The tunnel was discovered during the construction of the new gas pipeline. (Gemeentearchief Kerkrade)

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