We commemorate all the women, men and children who were murdered in the concentration camps: the Jews, Sinti and Roma, the victims of terror, such as the 29 prisoners who were executed without trial at this site in the early morning of 24 October 1944, and all those who lost their lives due to the violence of war.
19.30: Recitation of poems by pupils of the 1st Montessori School, de Wielewaal
- Bart Vink, chairman of Stadsdeel Zuid
- Menno ten Brink, Rabbi Liberal Jewish Congregation
Brass Trio conducted by Pascal van de Velde
20:00 – 20:02 Silence
Singing of the 1st and 6th verse of the National Anthem, accompanied by the Amsterdam Brass Trio
After the commemoration, flowers will be laid at the Resistance Monument
Amsterdam’s most notorious and feared address in the war years was Euterpestraat 99 (now Gerrit van der Veenstraat) in Amsterdam Zuid. This former girls’ high school, which housed the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) from March 1941, was a place where Jewish Amsterdammers and resistance fighters were interrogated, tortured and transported to concentration camps. The words ‘to Euterpestraat’, would strike fear in all.
Under the leadership of SS-Sturmbannführer Willy Lages, the Sicherheitsdienst fanatically hunted down those involved in illegal activity in Amsterdam. SD officer Herbert Oehlschlägel played an important role. Because he had worked in the Netherlands before the war, he knew the occupied country much better than his German colleagues. Cunningly, he built an extensive network of informants and infiltrators. The German posed a great danger to the resistance fighters in the capital. The resistance leadership therefore decided to abduct Oehlschlägel in the street, sedate him with chloroform, interrogate him extensively and then assasinate him. It was hoped that the sudden disappearance of Oehlschlägel would hinder the campaign of terror that the SD were carrying out. The raid was carried out late in the afternoon on 23rd October 1944. At the corner of Beethovenstraat and Apollolaan – a few hundred metres from the SD headquarters – four members of a brawling squad jump out of the car and threw themselves at the SD man. Oehlschlägel resisted violently and shouted for help, whereupon one of the resistance fighters put a bullet through his head. The foursome then make a speedy getaway by car, leaving their victim dead.
SD chief Willy Lages was beside himself when he was informed of the death of his close associate. He decided to retaliate harshly. At dawn on 25 October 1944, 29 random men (held on remand in the House of Detention on the Weteringschans on suspicion of resistance activities) were taken by truck to Apollolaan. Close to the site of the attack, the men were lined up in front of a shelter in the public garden. Among them was 18-year-old schoolboy Abraham Bijland. He was taken from the Weteringschans because his father was active in the resistance. Neighbours who were forced to watch the horrific scene later recounted that the boy, in his desperation, cried out for his mother. After the execution, the bodies were left for two hours as a deterrent. They would later be taken to the Driehuis Westerveld crematorium near Velsen, where their ashes were scattered. The Amsterdam municipality were later sent the bill. The distraught and inconsolable relatives received nothing but the rings that the men wore.
On the day of the German surrender, 5th May 1945, dozens of people laid flowers at the spot where the 29 fellow citizens were shot. They were not deterred by the fact that German soldiers were still driving around armed at the time: it would be another three days before the Canadians entered the city via the Berlage Bridge as liberators. A simple monument consisting of an earthen mound topped by a flower bed is placed at the execution site.
On 25th October 1952, Jan Havermans’ monument, called ‘Resistance Group’, was unveiled during a sombre ceremony on the Apollolaan. The sculpture group consists of three bronze men on a low plinth. The artist intended this sculpture to represent their doggedness, determination and resignation. Every year on 4th May, a commemoration of the dead takes place around the monument. A plaque with names of the 29 victims was added to the resistance monument on 8 April 2020.