The shelf of the organist

Paesi Bassi



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In the church of Holwierde hangs a wooden board with a carved text from the Bible book of Proverbs. There is a story behind it that takes place in 1945, during the last months of the war. An organist, who regularly stood in for the permanent organist, had seen a shelf in which someone had been carving a flower vine with a text in it.

Whenever the substitute organist had to play in the Stefanuskerk in Holwierde on Sunday, he saw that the text had been expanded. Finally, it read: “Gott erhalte unseren Führer. There schlage die Feinde unseres Volkes.”

The substitute organist and the pastor knew whose work it was. The pastor and the organist didn't like each other. The organist used the time during the vicar's sermons to carve the wood. Even before the war, the man had become a member of the National Socialist Movement. The pastor told the substitute organist not to talk about it. Soon the war would be over. Indeed, it did not last long, there was heavy fighting in the 'Delfzijl-Pocket', especially in the vicinity of Holwierde. On April 25, 1945, the Germans had blown up the bridge over Bierumermaar, delaying the Canadian advance. The western part of the village was liberated and the eastern part was still occupied.

The Germans rounded up all the men in the eastern part of the village and had them locked up in the church. The situation remained that way for a week. But when finally the eastern part was also liberated, the liberation could be celebrated. The substitute organist stepped into the church to see how badly the organ had been damaged, as the church had come out of the battle quite battered. He saw that the text on the shelf had changed. It now read, "As a whirlwind pass, so is the wicked no more, but the righteous is an eternal foundation." Proverbs 10:25.

The man rushed to the pastor to inform him about it. By now the Reverend was aware of the text, and he suspected that the text had been carved by a German officer. The officer who was a doctor had behaved very humanely and gently during the time when the men of the village were imprisoned in the church. He had been the only one who could have changed the text under the circumstances. The pastor said he would have used a more modern translation himself. The officer had apparently used the old State Bible in the church for his text in the wood.


Kerkpad 1, 9905 RL Holwierde