Monuments and memorials
Rotterdam has more than sixty war monuments commemorating the events of the war.
Rotterdam has more than sixty war monuments, among which one national memorial: The National Merchant Navy Monument at the Boompjeskade. Near this monument – also known as De Boeg (The Bow) – every year on 4th May the over 3000 seamen who died during the war are commemorated.
Resurrection of Rotterdam
Already during the occupation citizens of Rotterdam put up memorials – often no more than a simple wooden cross – on a spot where something had happened: for instance where a bomb had landed or where members of the resistance had been executed.
The places in the city where members of the resistance were killed, were given a permanent marking after the war. Thus, on the Boezembocht, the Hoflaan and the Doelwater, white stone crosses were erected with the text “For those who fell in battle” and the names of the victims. This happened on the initiative of het Rotterdamse Comité Oprichting Gedenkteken. On 22nd May 1945 this committee was set up to have a monument made to all men and women who had died for ‘the liberation of and the freedom for Holland’. On 4th May 1957 the result was unveiled at het Stadhuisplein: The resurrection of Rotterdam by the sculptor Mari S. Andriessen from Haarlem.
The Devastated City
Yet Andriessen’s statue has not become the Rotterdam monument of war. This honorary title was granted Ossip Zadkine sculptor of ‘De Verwoeste Stad’ (The Devastated City). The sculpture was a gift from the board of directors of De Bijenkorf, in honour of its perished Jewish employees.
In 1949 the design was shown during a Zadkine-exhibition in museum Boymans. At that time, by no means everyone seemed to appreciate it. During the years after the unveiling on 15th May 1953 the criticism died down. In the meantime The Devastaded City has become world famous. At the bottom of the sculpture the annual commemoration of the bombardment of 14th May 1940 is held.
Monuments to the persecution of the Jews.
At the Jewish cemetery on the Toepad there is a memorial in remembrance of the Rotterdam Jews who died because of the German terror. On 7th September 1947 this monument was unveiled and for years it has been the only memorial to the persecution of the Jews. On the initiative of the committee ‘Ereschuld aan onze Joodse stadsgenoten’ (Debt of honour to our Jewish fellow-citizens) a sculpture by Loeki Metz has been added to it in the nineteen sixties. Nowadays this Jewish monument is situated in the garden of the town hall.
The Jews of Rotterdam who were deported and who did not return, are commemorated every year on the 30th July. Since 1992 the memorial site is near the Stieltjesstraat at the Kop van Zuid, where the Gemeentelijke Handelsinrichtingen (Municipal Trade Establishments) used to be. Here stood Shed 24, the assembly point where Jews of Rotterdam were put on transport from July 1942 onward.