May 5, 71 years later

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The Netherlands is the only country in Europe that commemorates the victims of the Second World War and celebrates its liberation on two separate but consecutive days. We remember the Dutch victims of wartime violence on May 4, and on May 5 we celebrate our freedom.

The fact that the Netherlands observes Remembrance Day and celebrates Liberation Day, the day on which the German army capitulated, on two separate days is primarily the result of the strong influence that former members of the resistance had in Dutch society directly after the Second World War. The Dutch resistance had already gained considerable authority during the war. After the country had been liberated, the former resistance was relatively well organized and prominently represented in government circles. The most important reason why the national commemoration of Remembrance Day takes place on May 4 and not on May 5 is that directly after the Second World War, both the survivors and the bereaved in the former resistance circles found it inappropriate to mourn the victims of war and to celebrate the liberation on the same day. In their view, the emotions that went along with both sets of memories were incompatible. As the Netherlands had not played an active role in the First World War, the country did not already have a tradition of commemoration in the mid-1940s. Whereas most other European countries had commemoration traditions of a military character stemming from the First World War, the Netherlands was free to commemorate and celebrate in its own distinct manner.

The Dutch tradition of remembrance and celebration that developed in response to the Second World War had a primarily local character. In all Dutch cities and villages, local committees, organizations, associations or municipal officials organize a remembrance ceremony on May 4 or on another day in connection with the local war history and on May 5 there is often a celebration in honor of the liberation and freedom. In addition to all the local groups, there are also numerous other organizations in the Netherlands founded by people who have been affected by wars. They often organize their own ceremonies of remembrance in connection with various different historical events. For example commemorations are organized in reference to (the liberation of) various extermination and concentration camps, such as those in Mauthausen, Auschwitz and Ravensbruck, where Dutch citizens were killed. While other gatherings commemorate specific events such as the bombardment of Rotterdam or the massive razzias in Putten, in the northeast of the Netherlands. The Netherlands also commemorates the war in its former colony the Dutch East Indies and the end of the Second World War on August 15. And each year the Auschwitz Committee organizes the Holocaust/Auschwitz commemoration on the last Sunday in January.

So besides May 4 and 5, there are over 40 other occasions throughout the year when victims are remembered and survivors and people concerned get together to commemorate. All these different experiences and stories converge on May 4. On that day, at 8pm, the entire country – including those who experienced the war first hand and everyone else who recognizes the civic importance of remembering – commemorates the victims of wartime violence in silence.



burning-candleIt’s really shocking,
if people are no longer shocked
by what happens to others,
because the disaster that affects them
is so far from their bed.

It’s really mind-boggling,
if people are no longer baffled
about the injustice in this world,
because it is the umpteenth report
they get to face.

It’s really dire
if people are not more dismayed
about wars and other violence,
because they get dulled
and find it normal.

Because as long as people are
still shocked, stunned and horrified
they will move
and they can give history
a surprising turn.

This poem by Greet Brokerhof, I’ve read in Dutch during the remembrance meeting at the residential care home I work in (a few hours a week).

There’s a quote written on a wall in the center of town, the previous wall was used as an execution place by a firing squad during the 2nd World War.

Een volk dat voor tirannen zwicht, zal meer dan lijf en goed verliezen, dan dooft het licht.
By R.M van Randwijk

Which translates in: “A nation that yields to tyrants will lose more than life and property, then the light goes out“.

Peace everyone!


Travel In Style

In an effort to bring world famous art to the masses, SNCF — France’s national state-owned rail service — has applied renowned works to one of the most heavily trafficked locations in the country: its public train system. In collaboration with 3M, the interior of a commuter train has been covered with graphic film that mimics impressionist art from the Musée d’Orsay; an imitation of the architecture of the palace of Versailles; and images from Cinema Gaumont — the oldest film company in the world. During their commute, passengers can admire ‘Morning, sun’ by Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet’s ‘Blue water lilies’, or the vibrant stained glass wall of the Musée d’Orsay.

While serving as a simple method to add beauty to an ordinary ride, the project also reflects the close ties between railroads and art. For example, the J line — which links Paris’ Gare Saint-Lazare and Vernon stations — travels through landscapes that served as inspiration to many artists. Similarly, the Musée d’Orsay began life as a railway station before it became a museum. as a result of the creative intervention, the artwork has dramatically decreased the amount of graffiti and criminal damage on trains, giving passengers greater peace of mind as they travel from one part of the city to another.


Freedom Sounds in Resistance Heroes Neighborhood

The Docker at Jonas Daniël Meijer Plein

The Docker at Jonas Daniël Meijer Plein

This year, it was 75 years ago that the February Strike took place. On February 25, 1941 a spontaneous and massive public protest against the persecution of Jews started that expanded rapidly from Amsterdam to Zaandam. Tens of thousands of Amsterdammers took part in the protest and put down their work on this day. Paving, garbage collectors and tram-drivers took the lead in the strike, followed by employees of the energy, water supply, public works, municipal laundry, cleaning, bathing and swimming facilities and other public enterprises. This particular day is commemorated annually on Jonas Daniel Meijer Square at the statue of the Docker.

Liberty Carillon - photo department Monuments and Archaeology

Liberty Carillon – photo department Monuments and Archaeology

At the start of this great protest was an Amsterdam paver. The underground Communist Party of the Netherlands (CPN) organized on January 24, a brief outdoor meeting at Noordermarkt. Surrounded by 400 Amsterdam senior opposition officials announced this road worker, Willem Kraan, to strike. Along with Piet Nak he is seen as the instigator of the February strike. In memory of the resistance fighter Willem Kraan (1909-1942) in 1966 the monument was unveiled called ‘The Antifascist’. This bronze statue (designed by Leo Braat in 1936) can be found in the Willem Kraan Street in the New West part of the city.

At various places in Amsterdam are places where we commemorate the Second World War, marked by objects. The best known is the National Monument on Dam Square, a prominent central position in the town. The monument The Docker is a statue of Mari Andriessen, unveiled by Queen Juliana in 1952. The Haarlem carpenter and contractor William Ter Metz which Andriessen had known before the war, posed in 1951 for the image. Probably they were also together in the resistance.

Liberation Festival Plein '40 -'45 in 1961 – photo ANP - Collection Amsterdam City Archives

Liberation Festival Plein ’40 -’45 in 1961 – photo ANP – Collection Amsterdam City Archives

Willem Kraanstraat is part of a neighborhood in Slotermeer where the streets are named after different resistance heroes. The central space in this Garden City is Plein ’40 -’45, a nice place with a fitting name for a special postwar neighborhood. It had also be named Krüsemarkt (the resistance fighter J. Krüse), Resistance Square, Slotermeer Market or Harbour Market. On the square the Liberty Carillon can be found, to a design by architect Dick Slebos, designated in 2011 as a municipal monument. “This square appropriates especially for placement of the carillon, as this square is considered as a center of Garden City Slotermeer and consistent with the district, which are called the streets to resistance fighters. With us also it is thought, a monument on the square place, that will be a concocted imagination of the resurrection of our homeland from occupation and oppression,” it said in a letter to the department of Public Works in May 1960 to the city council. And so it happened: after the bells of the carillon had sounded at various places in the city, the city council took the decision to final placement at Plein ’40 -’45. The carillon is now taking an important place in the square, together with the flagpole. Originally, there was also a pulpit, but which later disappeared. Slebos designed the belfry as an open framework with a small cabin for the carillon bells high above the towers. The carillon and the neighborhood surrounding it recalls the Amsterdammers who took action against the occupier.

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A Ship Wreck Full Of…

European Stories.

Oak from Germany, the Czech Republic and South Scandinavia for the construction of the ship, hemp from the Baltic region to make ropes and iron from Sweden for the manufacture of guns. Three examples of the many European products that are processed or came in as cargo were present in The Amsterdam, a ship of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), which stranded at Hastings. The historical (trade) relations between Amsterdam and several European countries that represent these products are now to be discovered the digital installation of The Amsterdam.


Digital installation The Amsterdam | Photo Monuments and Archaeology

This East India ship The Amsterdam was built in 1748 on the VOC-yard Oostenburg. In January 1749 it sailed after loading and embarkation on Texel for the long trip to Asia. This proved short-lived. A rough southwesterly storm hit the ship adrift and it stranded at Hastings in southern England. Since it is still under water in the surf of the beach. at very low tide only the wreck is dry. The Amsterdam is the best preserved original East India ship from the 18th century. The hull is intact (45 meters long, 12 meters wide) and is 7 meters deep sunk in the beach.

The wreck Amsterdam at Hastings

The wreck Amsterdam at Hastings

The past few decades have developed different research plans. Exploratory research by underwater archaeologists in the 80s of the last century showed that there are tens of thousands of objects hidden in the ship. Because of that dive operation even a special edition of Bob and Bobette, ‘Fear on The Amsterdam’, appeared. The most recent initiative is to work out a plan with Dutch and British partners that the wreck completely filled exhibited in an aquarium and examined by divers. Therefore a digital installation is created of The Amsterdam.

The products are 3D printed markers from left to right: wood, hemp and rope, food, wine and beer, drugs, guns and muskets, glass and metals

The products are 3D printed markers from left to right: wood, hemp and rope, food, wine and beer, drugs, guns and muskets, glass and metals

The system was developed on the occasion of the Dutch EU Presidency and in line with corresponding theme Open and Innovative City. In the gatehouse of the Marine Base everyone can see an interactive table with two large screens, and discover the stories that lie behind The Amsterdam. One screen shows the map of Europe and the origin of the various products that were transported to Amsterdam and were bought by the Dutch East India Company for the construction and equipment of ships. Through 3D printed markers of archaeological finds, animations are activated from the wreck of eight different product groups and their relations with the various countries and cities in Europe. The second screen shows the map of Amsterdam with the addresses of suppliers of each of the eight product groups and supplies in the 40s of the 18th century.


Amsterdam Marine Base

Amsterdam’s marine base, located in the heart of the Dutch city, started a gradual transition early last year from a dominantly military-only zone to a more public program. One building, ’27E’ was selected as the first to be repurposed solely for civilian use. A former education facility, it was dismantled and stripped to its frame by local architecture studio bureau SLA under direction from the central government real estate agency.

’27E’ is situated just off the water, in the vicinity of the Maritime Museum and the Nemo Science Center; the latter a project of Renzo Piano. Originally constructed in 1962, it is one part of a two structure ensemble connected by a single story base. Bureau SLA’s efforts include a re-organization of layout, introduction of various services and infrastructure, and a new façade. Due to changes, each level has 500 m² or 5381 ft² of net floor space.

The façade consists of large 3.5 by 3.5 meter (11.5 by 11.5 feet) triple glazed windows set within deep bays. More noticeable, are wooden elements on the main face. Made of accoya wood, a closer look will reveal interpretations of the flags of every country in the European Union. Since completion in January 2016, it has been leased by Makerversity, a company that provides space, tools, and cutting-edge facilities for makers, creatives, and member businesses.


Somewhere Small

As a prop builder, illustrator and painter in Los Angeles, Jedediah Corwyn Voltz always seems to find himself surrounded by plants and half-finished sculptures. For his latest series of work titled ‘somewhere small’, Voltz has crafted tiny treehouses around succulents and cacti. ‘Building miniatures for stop motion always leaves me with a huge bin of scrap balsa, basswood, and various fabrics,’ Voltz says. ‘I found myself making little fantasy constructions out of that stuff during my downtime, which led to me building some more serious ones in little diorama settings. Last year, I built my first living treehouse and since then, I’ve made almost 25 of them — from tiny watchtowers in secluded forests, to quiet treetop meditation platforms, and giant bustling windmills and waterwheels.’ Visit his site here.


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