Joint celebrations

Procession on Palm Sunday in Kerkrade, 1950 (Herzogenrath City Archives)

After the first border fence was placed on Nieuwstraat in late 1914, political circumstances made joint festivities difficult or even prohibited them.

In August 1935, the mayor of Herzogenrath sent a written complaint to the Aachen regional council:
‘Holländische Gesellschaften und Vereine haben in früheren Jahren ihre Feierlichkeiten (Fastnachts-Neujahrsfeiern, Stiftungsfeste usw.) in der Stadt Herzogenrath abgehalten. Weil ich selbst auf Einladung wiederholt solche Festlichkeiten besucht habe, kann ich versichern, dass bei diesen Festlichkeiten ein bedeutender Umsatz in Frage kam. Seit etwa 2 Jahren werden derartige Festlichkeiten überhaupt nicht mehr in Herzogenrath abgehalten. [.…] Dabei ist mir erklärt worden, dass die recht scharfe Grenzkontrolle der Mitglieder der Vereinigung zur Ablehnung der Feier in Herzogenrath veranlasst habe.’ (Herzogenrath City Archives)

After the war ended, parades such as the Palm Sunday parade or the carnival parades were led along Nieuwstraat, so that neighbours could still celebrate together despite the separation. In the immediate post-war period, these parades were also used to quickly pass ‘a little something’ through the fence to friends and family on the other side, which was especially useful in those difficult times.

Later, joint festivities took place on Nieuwstraat to draw attention to problems caused by the border situation:

On 24 March 1970, for example, the work of art ‘D’r Knub’ was unveiled with the inscription ‘Alle Menschen werden Brüder’ (All people will become brothers). On 16 September 1989, a cross-border street party took place under the motto ‘Diesseits – this side (Kokelestraat/Plattwei) – ‘Jenseits – the other side’ (Josefstraat/Domanialeweg). This festival was organized by local residents who had launched an initiative to tear down the border fences once and for all, and transform Nieuwstraat into a joint residential street.

In 1991, an informal partnership arose between the municipalities of Kerkrade and Herzogenrath; it led to the founding of Eurode. To mark this occasion, the monument ‘De Wachter’ (The Guardsman) was unveiled on the corner of Nieuwstraat/Pannesheiderstraat on 13 July 1991, and a marquee was placed above the wall in the middle of Nieuwstraat.

The biggest festivity on Nieuwstraat took place in May 1995, when the redesigned Nieuwstraat without border barriers was finally officially opened.

Since then, Eurode Days have been celebrated as street parties in the middle of Nieuwstraat.

Marquee for the Eurode celebration in 1991 (Photo: Matthias Wolfs)

De Zuid-Limburger 27-02-1952:

To the newspaper report

The carnival parades took place later on Sundays in Herzogenrath and on Mondays in Kerkrade, so the population could celebrate both parades (Matthias Wolfs)

16.09.1989: Street party for the opening “This side” (Kokelestraat/Plattewei) – “Beyond” (Jozefstrasse/Domanialeweg), organised by the residents (with a driving role by Mr. and Mrs. Hasse) to achieve the removal of the Leicon blocks and to transform Neustraße into a residential street. In the middle of the stage with microphone Mayor Mans (Gemeentearchief Kerkrade).

13.07.1991: After the official ratification of the partnership between Kerkrade and Herzogenrath (EURODE), a monument was unveiled at the corner of Neustraße and Pannesheiderstraat by the mayors of Kerkrade and Herzogenrath, Mr Mans and Mr Schultheis (Gemeentearchief Kerkrade).

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eyewitness report

Contemporary witnesses – Willi Beetz

A short anecdote by Willi Beetz about the Corpus Christi processions, which also took place at different times on German and Dutch streets along Neustraße:

On the Corpus Christi holiday it was very hot and at the Herzogenrath procession there were not enough bearers for the canopy, so that the Herzogenrath priest had to carry the monstrance in front of him in the blazing sun. His colleague from Kerkrad observed from the other side of the border how the German priest’s strength was failing and he was getting weaker and weaker. He then decided to jump over the wire mesh fence, tearing his priestly robe in the process, and took over the monstrance and carried it the last part of the way for his fellow priest.