Sierplein Memorial
4 MAY 2023
19:40 — 20:40
Attention! This event has already passed.
The theme of this year's commemoration is 'Living with war'.

Programme 19.40 – 20.40

19.40 – Opening music – Muziekvereniging Amsterdam (MVA) and Hemsterhuis Choir (HHK)
19.55-19.57 –  Master of Ceremonies
19.58  – Last Post
20.00  – Two minutes of silence
20.02  – National Anthem
20.05  – Protocol
20.07  – Announcement Guest Speakers:

– Ingeborg van der Meulen, Headmaster of the Louis Bouwmeesterschool with pupils
– Youngsters from Slotervaart
– Interview with local resident about his/her experience of WWII
– Poem by performer

20.25-20.35  – Laying of flowers and wreaths.
20.35  – Closing with music and singing by MVA and HHK
20.40  – Residents lay flowers
20.40-21.30  – Coffee and tea afterwards in the Ark



During the years of World War II, the Slotervaart district consisted only of meadows with some farms. With the post-war urban expansion, a new residential district took shape. In 1978, the 4th and 5th May neighbourhood committee started a fundraising campaign for a war memorial to be erected upon a grass field along the Pieter Calandlaan, on the corner of the Johan Huizingalaan. Until then, local residents wishing to attend the commemoration of the dead mainly visted the monument on Amstelveenseweg near the Vondelpark, but there was a strong desire for a monument of its own in the neighbourhood.

In 1980, after approval from the Arts Council, a statue by sculptor Siep van de Berg was unveiled . When the area was redeveloped in 1994, a square, the Sierplein, was created. The sculpture depicts a flyaway bird that has escaped a steel cage. It is placed on a stone podium in the shape of a triangle, which refers to the German concentration camps, where prisoners had to wear a triangle of a certain colour on their clothes.

On 4 May 2017, a commemorative tile was added to the memorial, reading ‘They fell for our freedom’. This tile commemorates two British pilots from the British air force – the Royal Air Force (RAF) Observer William Barett (23) and Air Gunner Peter Adams (23). The memorial tile refers to an event on 23 June 1940. On that day, the two Britons and their pilot J.D.W. Stephens were on the retreat from the base in England after an attack mission in Germany. Flying over Dutch territory was risky. The German occupiers built up a formidable defensive belt, consisting of radar posts, fighters and anti-aircraft guns (Flak) to target overflying British aircraft. The Bristol Blenheim flown by the three British RAF men was hit by the German flak or a German fighter plane over Amsterdam at around 8pm. Stephens, the pilot, is able to prevent his plane from crashing into the built-up area of the capital. The plane crashes in the Riekerpolder, not far from the Luchtvaartlaboratorium near the Aalsmeerweg. Stephens was the only one able to make a parachute jump. He broke his left leg on impact and was taken as prisoner of war. The downed British plane crashed nose-first into the peaty soil. The bodies of the perished William Barrett and Peter Adams were recovered.

The monument in Sierplein was adopted by the Louis Bouwmeesterschool, as part of the ‘Adopt a Monument’ project. Since its unveiling in 1980, the neighbourhood’s commemoration service has been held at the memorial. Flowers are laid at the memorial and children recite poems.

Over the years, the composition of the neighbourhood has changed considerably. Many people with a migrant background, especially of Moroccan origin, as well as refugees have moved in. The 4 and 5 May Slotervaart Committee considers it an important goal to commemorate war and occupation together with fellow residents with a different history. The most important partners in Stadsdeel Slotervaart are therefore Moroccan organisations. The monument and the commemoration are a very good way to share the stories of events that took place during 1940-1945 with all neighbourhood residents, young and old. It also fits well with the principles of the Liberation Day celebrations at Sierplein, which takes place the day after, on 5th May. A Freedom Meal is organised for everyone who wishes to take part- an event where diversity, tolerance and connection will be celebrated together.





Sierplein Memorial
4 MAY 2023
19:40 — 20:40
Part of Silent March & Commemorations
Website by HOAX Amsterdam