During a fierce wind that raged through Leersum in the Netherlands on June 18, a tree fell on top of the 2CV owned by Joke and Jan Louis Kuiper. This photo of the broken Citroën that they call Bernadette went around the world and has since become a bit of a symbol for the violent storm.

The iconic photo of the duck right after the storm. (Photo: Sem van der Wal, ANP)

“I was home and it only took 20 or 30 seconds” says Joke Kuiper. “I just sat at the front door to wait. At first I thought about the people around us, whether someone needed help, that is the priority after all , then I saw all kinds of trees, trees, trees. And so there was a tree on the duck.”

The roof was smashed, the nose is crooked, and many parts were shattered. Glass splinters were on the front seat and the mirror now hangs sadly down. Not much is left of the interior either. Bernadette has seen better days

Photo: RTV Utrecht / Ulrike Nagel

As it caused such a sensation, but was beyond practical repair, Bernadette has gone to a new home ‘as-is’, having been transferred to be on display at a 2CV museum (Duck Museum) in Andijk, North Holland, last weekend.

Joke and Jan have been on holiday with it many times and feel passionately that it’s just not just any car. “Together with Joke I drove to Poland” says Jan Louis, “To a big meeting with all kinds of other ducks from all over Europe. Tent in the back and go. Look, it’s just a completely different experience; if you break-down with a Ferrari, then there will be a don’t help anyone attitude — people say, he has enough money. If you break-down with a duck, everyone stops and asks if they can help. That’s just something, yes, I can’t really explain it well.”

When the crush happened, Jan Louis put a tarp over the remains of Bernadette and placed a tree trunk is on top of it. “This is another part of the tree that fell on it. The car goes to the museum now, and the tree can come with it, because yes, it tells a story.”

Joke and Jan Louis Kuiper beside their broken Bernadette.

Before it was carried away, Jan Louis tried one last attempt at seeing if there was any life left in Bernadette. As if she wants to agree, Bernadette blinks the left turn signal. Turning the key in the ignition lock resulted in a little crackling – but no more… “No, I can’t get anything out of it as I had hoped”.

“I’m very happy that he’s going to the museum. We can always come by for free, with free coffee. It is a very nice museum.” They have many 2CVs from all over the world; the duck of the Flodder family, and a 2CV from a James Bond movie are just two examples. “You can walk around in it for hours. Highly recommended!”

Now the museum will be the home of the Leersum duck Bernadette, next to the oldest duck in the world.

2CV museum in Andijk. Photo: RTV Utrecht / Ulrike Nagel

1 comment

  1. So sad to see the destruction of such a fine car…almost like a death.
    I have a white 2 cv, and it is so true that people come from all over the place to lend a hand or ask a question or tell a 2cv story. I’m sorry that Bernadette died, but still her body will live on.
    Your sole mate from Mendocino, California…Sam

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