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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