How a cave system can be life support

Just like any other country the Netherlands has always tried to make the most of what their country could offer. For the city of Maastricht, the capital of Limburg, the riches were underground. In the past they made money by selling marl stone (chalk) that they excavated. Later on they began giving tours in the old caves and told people stories about the caves, they do this to this day. To me the story of the caves during the second world war are the most interesting.

A Maastrichtian architect made a plan to make the caves inhabitable for when the city was under attack. They wanted three fresh water pumps, a bakery and all the other resources people need to not just survive, but live. The plan was put into motion and they built nearly everything they wanted to, to make sure the people of Maastricht would be safe in case of an emergency. It was all for preserving life.

Luckily Maastricht was liberated before a complete evacuation was necessary. However, some people did live there for about ten days. One of the people who lived there was a woman who was well into her pregnancy. She gave birth to a son in the caves. Keep in mind that the climate in the caves is very humid with a constant temperature of 10℃ and thus not ideal for giving birth. Her son got born in the bakery because that place was the only place that could be kept warm and that could provide hot water. Apparently, the caves were a good enough place to get a life started.

Another striking thing about the caves is that the system is divided into sections. Every now and again one will see something like ‘vak 12’ or ‘vak 1’. This was for the purpose of an orderly evacuation. The sections corresponded with the city districts above ground. One would be going down into the caves and would know that they would meet their next-door neighbour there. The evacuation plan was designed to let people continue with their lives.

I know all of this because our tour guide told us all about the caves. I would certainly recommend going to the caves. Although the caves are a bit chilly it is filled with life because of all the stories and filled with light making it a beautiful place. Our tour guide also gave us the opportunity to walk in darkness with one hand to the wall. Not knowing where the wall would be going next we had to keep following it until we got to where he was standing with the light. The caves brought life when there was light, it either provided money for it, preserved it, or continued it.