Obituary Jan Driessen (1921-2010)
Jan Driessen has been the heart and soul of the museum from the initial set up in Veghel in 1984 as a temporary exhibition, right until 2006, when the museum was acquired by its current owner, Roland van Pelt.
World War II has been the most determining factor in Jan Driessen's life; his first act of resistance dates back to 1939, when he removed a flag carrying the swastika symbol from the German school in The Hague, his town of birth.
When the Germans invaded The Netherlands, he moved over to France to become involved in the resistance there, helping to smuggle crashed allied fighter pilots back to Britain. After the invasion of France by the Allied Forces, his language skills were put to good use in intelligence activities and working as an interpreter for the US Army.
After the war he returned to The Netherlands to become a successful businessman but his war experiences had left their marks. He set up the Wings of Liberation museum in Veghel, showing photo's, documents, uniforms and military vehicles. When his collection expanded to include aircraft and tanks, he swiftly ran out of space and in 1997 the museum found a new home in Best, with the official opening performed by not the least of his close friends, His Royal Highness Prince Bernard of The Netherlands, Prince Consort to the late Queen Juliana.
Realizing he was coming of age and that his mission needed to be carried on, he sold the museum to Roland van Pelt in 2006. In 2008, an elated Jan Driessen was shown the first results of a long-term renovation project, one of them being the new “Jan Driessen” hall, honouring his lifelong efforts to keep the history of the Liberation alive. But even without this acknowledgment of all he has done, his name and spirit will continue to be part of the Wings of Liberation museum forever.
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