Permanent exhibitions

Permanent exhibition Markt 12 Exhibition Horn and Textile Industry & Village Farm

Markt 12  

Dive into the history of Markt 12 and experience the stories of Aunt Riek, Uncle Jan Wikkerink and many others.

The Nationaal Onderduikmuseum tells the story of the life (survival) of a community in normal and unusual times. The museum provides a picture of the daily life of citizens during the occupation years 1940-1945. At the time, a very high number of people were being hidden in the municipality of Aalten. The stories of people in wartime can be experienced interactively in the museum.

Experience how daily life completely changed for them and what choices people were faced with. Note that many nuances are possible with ‘right or wrong’. Experience how difficult it is to generate electricity and how cramped it was in the hiding room. Look for the stories of people who experienced the war themselves and connect them with current events.

The museum also has an ‘Escape Room for Freedom’. When you enter this escape room, you have paid at the door with your freedom… In the escape room, you are presented with the issues and dilemmas that everyone will encounter when he or she has to flee. Temporary exhibitions are linked to the various themes of the museum.

Click here to watch a short tour of Markt 12..

Educational and exciting for all ages!

Village farm Freriksschure

Behind the buildings Markt 12 and 14, which are located directly on the Markt, is the old Saxon village farm called the Freriksschure. The Freriksschure owes its name to Harmen Jan Freriks, ‘surgeon and midwife’, who lived in the Markt 14 mansion for many years and used the barn as a coach house.

Since 1985, the space has been set up as an agricultural museum, which shows tools that were used by farmers around 1900. The sub-collection includes tools that were used for agricultural crafts, such as milk processing, domestic slaughter, tillage and harvesting. Tools have also been set up that give an idea of the trades that were closely linked to farming, such as a saddlery, wheel shop and clog factory.

Carts and carriages are on display. In addition, it is shown which activities were carried out in the cottage industry, such as the processing of flax into linen and the ‘washing street’ (washing textiles). Finally, a living room and a ‘junk attic’ have been set up. The top piece is the wheel factory, which is very rare in its completeness.


Horn industry

Aalten is the only place in the Netherlands where products were made from buffalo horn, such as pipes, combs, buttons, signal whistles, needle cases and knife handles. Buffaloes were not killed or bred specifically for the horn. Virtually all the material was used and what was left was used for the fields. With the advent of plastic and mass production, this industry disappears after the Second World War.

Family ties have had a strong influence on the development of the horn industry. Five horn turners started in Aalten in 1855: Bernard Vaags, Gerrit Peters, Abraham ten Dam, Willem te Gussinklo and Wessel Becking.

Bernard Vaags goes on┬áWanderschaft┬áto Germany and is apprenticed to a horn-turner in Thuringia. When he returns, he buys a simple foot lathe and begins the very first horn-turning workshop. In a small room in his parents’ shoemaker’s shop, he makes parts for German buffalo horn pipes. Vaags marries Dora Prins, who owns a shop. She also becomes a horn-turner and is called Piepen Deurken.

Gerrit Peters, son of a tanner, is also apprenticed in Thuringia after Bernard Vaags. He has been working on the Hogestraat since 1863. He married the wealthy Josina te Gussinklo and moved in with her in 1872. The building runs from the Markt, via the K├Âstersbult to the Landstraat, where he establishes his horn workshop. He makes long pipe stems and parts for the German pipe. In Germany, porcelain pipe bowls are attached to the stems and the pipes are traded.

Abraham ten Dam was one of the founders of the comb factory Ten Dam & Manschot, on Damstraat in 1871. This was the only factory in the Netherlands that made combs: white, black, natural colored decorative combs, Mexican combs, lice combs and mustache combs. The manufacture gave even more dust and stench than with the pipes. In 1920 about 200 people, including women and children, worked here.

Willem te Gussinklo and Wessel Becking learn the tricks of the trade from Gerrit Peters. They worked together for a short time, but continued separately in 1884. Willem makes German pipes and handles for walking sticks and umbrellas. His son Willem te Gussinklo Jr. (Piepkes Willem) soon joined the company, which developed into an innovative entrepreneur. The family also has a lot of influence in Aalten on a social level. After the failed collaboration with Willem te Gussinklo, Wessel Becking continues in 1880 with B.G. Vaags, nephew and namesake of Bernard Vaags. Becking & Vaags make pipe stems and later also knife handles. When sales of German pipes decline, the factory produces short briar pipes. The former pipe factory building in the Hoekstraat still exists.

Johannes Peters leaves his father’s workshop on the K├Âstersbult and in 1896 he enters into a partnership with Marcus Gans, a Jewish merchant. Gans finances the company called PEGA (Peters & Gans). The pipe factory is located next to Peters’ house on the former Gasthuisstraat (now Haartsestraat). In addition to German pipes for German reservists, walking sticks with horn handles are manufactured. After the factory burned down completely in 1917, Johannes Peters established his pipe factory on Admiraal de Ruyterstraat. Instead of German pipes, briar pipes are mainly made.

Pipe factory Peters & Gans

Dutch Button Works, Bredevoort

Willem te Gussinklo jr. soon devoted himself to the manufacture of buttons. Due to enormous growth, the factory moves in 1924 to the empty weaving mill of Van Eijck in Bredevoort. The international company N.V. Dutch Button Works (DBW) exports to England, Ireland and America and is also the largest (horn) company in Aalten. After the Second World War, the production of horn buttons declined. In 1976, this last branch of horn processing was forced to give the pipe to Maarten. This put a definitive end to the 120-year horn industry in Aalten.

Textile industry

Flax has been grown in the Achterhoek and Westphalia for centuries, from which linen is woven on farms. In Aalten, many names of farms and roads are reminiscent of these home weavers. A lively trade in woven goods between weavers and traders developed in the area, on both sides of the border.

The emerging textile industry follows on from this old tradition of cottage industry. When import duties were increased at the beginning of the 19th century, German textile companies decided to settle in the Achterhoek. The companies Gebr├╝der Driessen and Peter Driessen & Sohn come to Aalten from Bocholt, marking the start of a thriving textile industry in the village.

Over a period of more than 140 years (1826-1969), the Driessen manufacturers developed into the most important employers in Aalten and the surrounding area. For generations, men, women and children from the same families have worked in these companies. The factory buildings and private homes of the Driessens are iconic in the village. The manufacturers left an important mark on the social and economic life of Aalten until the second half of the 20th century.


Around 1817 the brothers Anton and Joseph Driessen founded the company “Gebr├╝der Driessen” in Bocholt. They mainly trade in bomb vinegar, a fabric made of linen and cotton, which they export to the Netherlands. This lucrative trade is jeopardized by the increase in the import tax in the Netherlands on foreign fabric. In order to avoid the high toll rates, the Dutch king is asked for permission to open a branch in Aalten. This succeeds and in 1826 Anton Driessen leaves for Aalten, while his brother continues the company in Bocholt.

Anton sets up a hand spinning mill in Aalten for his many home weavers, sets up a bleaching mill and has a large house with outbuildings built. Over the years, Anton’s bombastic business grew into a steam-powered spinning mill that was later expanded with mechanical looms. In 1918 Anton’s grandson Theodoor sold the company to investors from Twente who continued the factory as ‘Voorheen Gebr. Driessen’. In 1960, Wisselink’s Textielfabrieken, part of Textiel Groep Twenthe, took over. In 2002 the factory in Aalten closed and passed into German hands, bringing the company back to its origins.

Flax spinning
Setting up warp threads of coils


Soon after Anton, cousin Heinrich Driessen also comes from Bocholt to Aalten. Here he sets up a branch of his father Peter Driessen’s bombastic trade and hand spinning mill. Heinrich already owns the necessary land in Aalten and Varsseveld and in 1826 expanded his activities with a spinning mill in Groenlo. In 1832 about 500 linen weavers in Aalten and the surrounding area work for Heinrich and three years later, together with Blijdestein in Enschede, he is one of the largest bomb factory in the eastern Netherlands.

Heinrich Driessen is not only successful but also innovative, as evidenced by his contact with Thomas Ainsworth. This English textile technician plays an important role in the introduction of the steam engine and the mechanical production method in the textile industry of Twente and the Achterhoek. In 1832 he was also involved in the establishment of Heinrich’s steam bleaching facility in Dale, the first in East Gelderland. In 1849 Heinrich founded the first steam spinning mill in Aalten, later expanded with steam-driven looms. If it burns down ten years later, he won’t rebuild the company. He shifted but shifted his attention to Leiden, where he bought the textile printing and dyeing company ‘De Heijder’.


In 1893 Herman Driessen withdraws from the board of the Driessen Brothers. Together with his son Joseph, he founded a modern steam weaving mill with 34 looms on ‘het Blik’ on the Hofstraat: the NV Stoomweverij Herman Driessen & Zoon. The production of HDZ consists of knitwear such as underwear, gymnastics clothing and sweaters and household textiles such as tablecloths, napkins, hand, bath, glass and tea towels, sheets and pillowcases, with decorative borders or woven names of companies such as the Holland-America Line and the Nedlloyd. The large plume of smoke from the factory chimney and the sound of the steam whistle are part of everyday life in Aalten.

However, the flourishing of the textile industry, which for so long was decisive for the economic activity of the eastern Achterhoek, is coming to an end. Before 1930 the share of textiles in the total industry was still 45%, after 1950 this percentage decreases rapidly. The final end for the weaving and knitwear industry came in the 1960s due to increasing foreign competition and the rise of mass production and ready-to-wear. In 1969 HDZ also had to close its gates. Fortunately, the factory on Hofstraat has been preserved and has been given a new destination after a restoration in 2015.

NV Stoomweverij Herman Driessen & Zoon, 1951