Laboratory of Nematology completely destroyed by fire

In the early morning of June 14th 1973 this building of the newly established Department of Nematology was completely destroyed by fire. After the fire Michiel Oostenbrink, the head of the department, wrote a letter to all the Nematologists in the world, to ask for help (see below).

Wageningen, 20 June 1973

Subject: Information and request to nematologists about Department of Nematology, Wageningen

The three interconnected wooden laboratories at 15 Binnenhaven, Wageningen, in which the Department of Nematology of the Landbouw-hogeschool was housed, were completely destroyed by a ferocious fire in the night of 13/14 June. The contents of the building were also lost, except for the large collection of nematode slides which were fortunately stored in fireproof cases. The cause of the fire is not certain; it may have been an explosion in a refrigerator in which chemicals were kept.

It is a matter of survival for the Department to restore its potency for teaching and research as quickly as possible. The greatest problem which is not easily solved is the loss of literature (most of the 20 000 reprints and the books and journals), as well as the loss of diapostives and films for teaching at the Landbouwhogeschool and at the International Postgraduate Courses. All workers involved (Oostenbrink, Loof, Gommers, Hoestra, Viets, sā€™Jacob, Simons, Sanders, van Bezooijen, our guestworkers Orion, Mulet, Smit and our students) feel that it is embarrassing to ask for support, but we have little choice.

It was therefore decided to write this letter to a limited number of colleagues, who are perhaps in a position and may be willing to arrange for some help. We will be thankful if you and your associates could consider the possibility:

1. To send reprints and books which you may be able to spare.

2. To send a number of selected diapositives (black and white or colour) accompanied by a legenda, for teaching purposes (symptoms, methods,experiments, instructive graphs or tables).

If there are difficulties regarding costs for making such materials available or for sending them, you may add a bill ā€“ we have been given somecredit to renumerate such bills without formalities. For large amounts we will have to follow administrative channels, but please inform us if collections of reprints etc. are available for sale.

The Department will preliminarily be housed at Duivendaal 1, Wageningen, and will move in about a year to the former Phytopathology building,10 Binnenhaven, Wageningen, as soon as the facilities have been made adequate. Please note these addresses. It may be mentioned that probably preparation and reproduction of the nematode card file will go on (a duplicate card file of the unpublished section was outside the building) and that we may still be able to provide reprints of our articles except for those published during the last few years, because older reprints were stored elsewhere.

We finally hope that you will send us a reminder in case we have not answered recent letters from your side.

Sincerely yours,


Dr. M. Oostenbrink

Head Department of Nematology

 Barrack before, during and after the fire