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A whale of a job part 5: update

Posted on 04-09-2017 by Becky Desjardins

More about The Burned Whales!

In the post about the whales “Burning Questions” we mentioned that there were no fires in Naturalis History. That turned out to be not true! There was indeed a fire at the Naturalis Collections in Leiden. A sharp eyed reader, Alex “Bosj”, sent me some further information regarding collection depot fires.  Alex’s grandfather, Hilbrand Boschma, was the director of Naturalis during WWII. Alex pointed out that there had been a bomb dropped on one of the Naturalis Collection areas in 1944, and he sent me copies of the permission slips his grandfather had carried when accessing the damaged building.  The depot was located near Stationsweg.  Further sleuthing recovered a few more interesting pieces of evidence in the Naturalis archives: the report that was written describing the damage of Indonesian specimens (including material collected by the famous biologist Eugene Dubois) for the government, as well as a map of the damaged area.

Thanks to Alex for sharing this interesting bit of history.  I think an entire blog could be written about Naturalis in war time. There are some fascinating stories from those years.

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