About Dutch National Monument
The Dutch National Monument is an obelisk in Dam Square in Amsterdam which commemorates those who died in World War II.
Germany invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940, bringing the formally neutral country into the war and occupying it thereafter. It would not be fully liberated again until May 1945. By the end of the Second World War, the Netherlands had one of the highest casualty rates of all German occupied countries, with over 205,000 people having died.
The Dutch National Monument commemorates these casualties as well as the Dutch resistance during the occupation.
History of Dutch National Monument
Dam Square is the historic centre of The Netherlands’ capital, Amsterdam. Until 1914, a different monument – De Eendracht or popularly Naatje van de Dam – stood there, which commemorated the Ten Days’ Campaign.
After the Second World War ended in 1945, a liberty pole was erected on Dam Square, and shortly thereafter, the Dutch government proposed that there be a permanent World War II monument in the same place.
A temporary monument was placed there while planning for the current one took place. It consisted of 11 urns with soil from World War II execution grounds and war cemeteries from each of the Dutch provinces. Three years later, a twelfth urn was added with soil from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia.)
John Rädecker was commissioned to design the monument, with his designs being exhibited in 1946 at the Stedelijk Museum, with his two sons Han and Jan stepping in to complete the project after Rädecker died four months before its completion.
The Dutch National Monument was officially opened in May 1956 by Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.
The monument became a symbol of liberation, and, in the 1960s and 70s, became a central gathering and camp site for hippies. This was condemned by the government, which then incited riots.
The monument has undergone a number of restorations to improve its sturdiness and accessibility over the last 60 years or so, and gained rijksmonument status in 2009.
Dutch National Monument Today
Today, the monument serves as a stark reminder of war atrocities and those lost in conflict. It also plays a central role in National Remembrance Day, on 4 may, when the royal family and local residents gather to pay their respects to all soldiers lost in conflict from the Second World War and during more recent conflicts.
Getting to Dutch National Monument
From the centre of Amsterdam, the Dam Square and thus the Dutch National Monument are a 6 minute drive, via Rokin street. It’s also around 15 minutes by foot, via Jodenbreestraat. There are also a number of connecting buses – the Intercity and Sprinter – which take around 15 minutes from the centre of the city.