Drachenzähne in Farbe – Herzogenrath: Kafer; Drachenzähne – In Farbe was a social art project that marked the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation from the National Socialists. On Monument Day on 13 September 2020, the Rheinischer Verein commemorated this gift for freedom at five places, from Herzogenrath to Hellenthal. These places connected a building unit, such as the West Wall. Built with the aim of stopping neighbouring enemies, it has since become a meeting point for friends (Rheinischer Verein für Katholische Arbeiterkoelen e.V.).

West Wall / Siegfried Line

Hitler’s plan to conquer Lebensraum in the East inevitably encountered opposition from France and Great Britain, as these countries had pledged to offer support
To ward off an attack from the West, but also to act as a deterrent, work was started on the West Wall, also known as the Siegfried Line, in 1936.
The West Wall stretched from the border with Switzerland in the south to the Lower Rhine in the north.
Bunkers were placed at all tactical locations, creating two intimidating lines of defence in multiple places.
The line was characterized by anti-tank ditches and anti-tank walls, but mainly by four to five rows of concrete obstacles often referred to as ‘dragon’s teeth’. These elements were designed to hinder and repel tank attacks. The armament comprised anti-tank artillery and heavy machine guns.
After the successful campaign in Poland and the swift advance through Western Europe, the heavy weaponry was redeployed to fortify the defensive line along the Atlantic Ocean, known as the Atlantic Wall
After the Allies invaded, the West Line was reinstated. However, it could not provide effective defence, because not only were the heavy weapons missing, but also the soldiers required and even keys to bunkers could not be found.
The Siegfried Line, was more of a psychological obstacle for the Allies than a real barrier, because it only caused brief delays.
The name ‘Siegfried Line’ characterises the border situation: Neighbours became strangers.

 

Peter Dinninghoff

(Rheinischer Verein für Katholische Arbeiterkolonien e. V.)

The grey humps are omnipresent in the D/NL border area of the Aachen city region, today often closely connected to nature in green meadows or forests. They form a grey, sombre memorial and so it was a colourful ray of hope in September 2020 when the artistic installation in Herzogenrath/Pannesheide reminded us that we have been living in peace and freedom for almost 80 years.

The project Dragon’s Teeth – In Colour by the Rheinischer Verein für Katholische Arbeiterkolonien e.V. (Rhineland Association for Catholic Worker Colonies) was implemented in Herzogenrath with the installation “Beetles” by the artists Vera Sous and Ana Sous and the artist Thomas Bortfeldt together with the Ahoi Group. Other stations designed by other artist groups were located along the Höckerlinie in Aachen, Roetgen, Simmerath and Hellenthal.

Scroll to Top

eyewitness report

Contemporary Witness Report Paul Büttgenbach Jr. (22.05.1935 – 28.05.2021)

with kind release by

www.geschichtsfreunde-kohlscheid.de (Erich Hallmann)

The family lived in Pannesheide, Roermonder Straße 388, a former Hillko building that had been bought by Karl Büttgenbach, my father’s brother (Paul Büttgenbach sen., teacher in Kohlscheid).

With his family, my father evaded the forced evacuation. As a result, the family had to live in the attic in the outbuilding for a month. My father and brother lifted off roof tiles to watch for SS people approaching the building. We children had to keep absolutely quiet day and night. The laundry, bathroom and toilet were in the outbuilding, which also contained the hayloft where we stayed. No fire could be made, so we were forced to eat potatoes and other food raw. There was nothing but hay, in which we also had to sleep. The house had to look absolutely deserted. At night the parents fetched the necessary food from the cellar in the house.

When the SS had completed the evacuation in Pannesheide in autumn 1944, we were able to go back to our house. Paul Büttgenbach Sr. His first teaching position after the First World War was initially at the Kath. Volksschule Klinkheide; from there he moved to the Kath. Volksschule Pannesheide. During the war four teachers taught there: my father, Mr Hermann Koch (headmaster), Miss Rothkranz, Miss Therese Nießen, until they were closed by the Americans in autumn 1944, as were all the schools in Kohlscheid. Despite massive threats (removal from service), my father steadfastly resisted joining the NSDAP. Paul Büttgenbach 22.05.1935 28.05.2021 Childhood and Teaching Memories, History and Stories 3 During that time, the German soldiers were quartered in the Fest family farmhouse, which was opposite our house. Every day these soldiers came to us to wash there. In this respect we had good contact with these soldiers. The area between the German-Dutch border and the Küppers farm, formerly Fest, was mined by German soldiers. Because of his good contacts with the German soldiers, my father had a map of the mines. This meant that we could still walk through this area without danger. On a Sunday afternoon before the evacuation, an American jeep came from the Netherlands and drove through the mine area in the direction of Kohlscheid via Roermonder Straße to the tank barrier erected there at the height of the Höckerlinie. We were all very excited and anxious to see what would happen now. A short time later the jeep came back and hit a mine near the customs office. This exploded, the car was completely destroyed, vehicle parts flew through the air for several hundred metres and damaged the houses. The four American soldiers were killed. Several windows of our house were destroyed by the detonation. Since there was no glass, the windows were closed with cardboard or wooden boards. This was the first time that American soldiers entered German territory at this border crossing. The Dutch collector (comparable to the mayor) was well acquainted with my father. He knew that my father was not in the party and advised the Americans to contact my father a few days after this terrible event. Two Americans then came to our house. They knocked on our front door with the butts of their rifles and my father opened the door. They demanded that my father go as a parliamentarian to the German soldiers in the Villa Treudler on Roermonder Straße – today (2018) a dormitory of the Paritätisches Hilfswerk, Roermonder Straße 354 – and persuade them to surrender. They demanded that my father put a white cloth over his arm to show that he came to them with peaceful intentions and unarmed. My father refused to take the white cloth because he knew that the German soldiers would recognise him. To my mother he said, “I’m going to go as far as the bypass and then come back with the explanation that the German soldiers didn’t let me pass.” That was his big mistake. The two American soldiers accompanied my father with a battered machine gun to the bypass road. There they lay down on the ground and pointed their guns at my father. From there, my father had to go on alone. The Germans who were staying in the villa saw my father coming and recognised him. In that respect, there was no danger from them. My father delivered the Americans’ message to them to surrender. The German soldiers explained that they could not make a decision without the permission of the headquarters, which was stationed in the Villa Burkhardt. With this information, my father went back to the two American soldiers. Thereupon the Americans left the village of Pannesheide with the remark: “Then you will all not be alive tomorrow!” and went back to the Netherlands.