The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every three years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.


Adopting a war grave at the American cemetery or a name in one of the Walls of Missing Persons means that every adopter visits the adopted soldier several times a year. At this occasion he or she lays flowers and gives thought to the significance of his or her offer. One visit takes place at the annual Memorial Day on the last Sunday of May. Furthermore flowers are laid on the birthday and/or dying day of the adopted soldier. If possible, the adopter keeps in contact with the American next of kin. For them the knowledge that there is someone who takes care of the grave is a great consolation, as they often are not able to pay a visit. As all 10,023 American soldiers have been adopted at the moment, aspirant-adopters are put on a waiting list. The most important aspect of adoption is the commemoration in gratitude and at the same time the awareness of the vulnerability of our freedom and democracy. Only if we learn from the past, there will be hope for the future.



The Stichting Adoptie Graven Amerikaanse Begraafplaats Margraten (Adopting Graves American Cemetery Margraten Foundation) allocates graves for adoption, instructs and stimulates adopters and actualises the adoption register. The board establishes the contact between adopter and American next of kin. Most adopters come from Limburg, but also people from the other parts of the Netherlands, from Belgium, Italy and even from Germany have adopted graves. There are also many schools and organisations among the adopters. There is communication with the American Battle Monuments commission (ABMC) in Paris and the Embassy of the United States of America in The Hague.



On September 12th 1944, the first allied troops arrived in the Netherlands. The 9th Army settled down in the south of Limburg, with the headquarters in Maastricht. The commander of the 9th Army, General Simpson, for his advance to Berlin, gave the command to establish a cemetery in Margraten. The first victim was buried in November 1944. In 1945 the first grave was adopted by a resident of Margraten, Jef van Laar. An American captain asked him to visit the grave of his friend who had been killed, and send photographs of it to his parents in America. He decided to adopt this grave. Soon more requests for information and photographs arrived from America and this led to an appeal in the regional newspaper to adopt graves. During Memorial Day 1945 all 18,000 graves were provided with flowers. In the following years all the soldiers were reburied. 10,000 of them were repatriated. The remaining 8301 remained adopted and as of that moment, annually commemorated and provided with flowers. In 2002 the current Adoption Graves American Cemetery Foundation was established and the adoption register, which consisted of an index card box, was digitalised and actualised. As a result of the 100% adoption level, the 1722 names in the Walls of Missing Persons were made available for adoption as well. As of 2015 all 10,023 American soldiers have been adopted and there is a waiting list of more than 300 persons. Many parents have passed on the adoption to their children and grandchildren, which makes that also many young people can be found among the adopters. Searching and maintaining contact with American families has become much simpler with social media. Many adopters also dug into the history of the Second World War in general and of American soldiers in particular. This has led to several books, documentaries and films.




Stichting Adoptie Graven Amerikaanse Begraafplaats Margraten
Beatrixlaan 13
6269 EX