6,700 Surnames

For our brief overnight in Amsterdam after the cruise we choose the Quinton Zoo Hotel which as its name implies is close to the Artis Zoo. In other times the area had been the Jewish Quarters. A migration of Portuguese Sephardic Jews after their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula had contributed to the growth of Amsterdam as a trading centre. It was to remain the centre of Jewish life and culture until the Nazi Occupation during the Second World War.

The Hollandsche Schouwburg was first a theatre, then a prison and deportation centre for Dutch Jews, and now stands as a memorial to those who were taken from their homes never to return.

As we looked out our window I remarked to Laurent that the building across the street looked very much like a theatre, as indeed it was. But a theatre with a sad history. Built in 1891 the Hollandsche Schouwburg (Dutch Theatre) was one of the more popular theatres in Amsterdam however with the Occupation because of it’s location the name was changed to Joodsche Schouwburg (Jewish Theatre). It did not serve that function for long and in 1942 it became a prison and deportation centre as Jews were rounded up and sent first to Westerbork or the Vught transit camps, and from there to the camps at Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen or Sobibor. It is estimated that between 60,000 and 80,000 men, women and children were sent from here to almost certain death.

Along the sidewalks on the Plantage Middenlaan, the main street in what is now known as the Jewish Cultural Quarter, brass “stones” bear the names of people deported from the Old Quarter and sent to the extermination camps. The word “vermoord” means “murdered”. These two were in front of the Nationaal Holocaust Museum.

After the war it sat derelict and in 1962 all but the facade of the theatre was demolished. The space became a memorial garden, chapel and a Wall of Remembrance to the victims of the Nazi Occupation. The Wall does not list individual names but simply the 6,700 surnames of families that were deported and murdered.

The Wall of Remembrance behind the facade of the Hollandsche Schouwburg incised with the 6,700 family names of the 140,000 Dutch Jews deported to extermination camps during the Nazi Occupation.

October 12 is Old Farmers Day – now, now Steve don’t take it personally.

Author: Willym

A senior with the heart of a young'un

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