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