We commemorate the horrors of World War II and reflect on the war that also raged in our neighbourhood. After the commemoration, there will be an opportunity to chat with the neighbours. Entrepreneurs from the neighbourhood will serve some goodies. The commemoration is organised by the 4 and 5 May De Pijp Youth Committee.
A commemorative programme including
Silent march from Van der Helstplein to Van Woustraat 149
Wreath laying and 2 minutes’ silence at 20:00
Speeches and readings
On the day of the Dutch capitulation, 15 May 1940, residents of De Pijp make their way to the Berlage Bridge. They wish to see for themselves how German units enter Amsterdam after only five days of battle. There is fear and uncertainty of what is to come. The neighbourhood quickly becomes accustomed to the presence of German soldiers on the streets. A German soldier and a Dutch policeman conduct the traffic at the junction between the Ceintuurbaan and Van Woustraat. Everyday life changes drastically. For example, there is a curfew, where people are forbidden from being on the streets after a certain time of night. Neighbours caught breaking this curfew (‘Spertijd’) have to spend a night at the police station in Pieter Aertszstraat. More and more food products, as well as clothes, shoes and tobacco, are only available through a system of rationing. Ration vouchers can be picked up at the distribution office in Pieter Aertszstraat 106. They are also needed at the traditionally lively Albert Cuyp market. Half of the merchants at this popular market are Jewish, yet as from 15th September 1941, Jews are forbidden at the market.
The nearly 2,000 NSB members in the neighbourhood are looked down-upon in the street and by their neighbours and seen as traitors. Nevertheless, they go from their NSB Circle House at 131 Eerste Jan Steenstraat into the neighbourhood to sell their weekly newspaper Volk and Vaderland. In early 1941, NSB street terror against Jews increases. Threats, vandalism and molestation are the order of the day. Fights break out in the city between Jews and the WA, the NSB’s thugs, sometimes supported by non-Jewish sympathisers. Amsterdam Zuid is also targeted by the Dutch Nazis: a quarter of Amsterdam’s Jews live here. The windows of the two branches of ice cream parlour ‘Koco’ at 149 Van Woustraat and 71 Rijnstraat, which was owned by Jews who had fled from Germany, Ernst Cahn and Alfred Kohn, are smashed several times, Visitors of the popular ice cream parlours decide to form a brawling squad to repel any attack by the WA. On 19th February 1941, a group of NSB members march past ‘Koco’ in Van Woustraat, singing. When there is a loud knock on the door of the ice cream parlour, those present believe that NSB members want to storm in. However, it is the German police, also known as Grüne Polizei. Members of the brawling squad spray the Germans with caustic ammonia from a cylinder standing in the shop which is used to cool ice cream. That same evening, owners Kohn and Ernst Cahn are arrested. On 27th February 1941, they stand trial before a German court in The Hague. Ernst Cahn is sentenced to death and shot on 3 March 1941, the first citizen to be executed in occupied Netherlands. Alfred Kohn is sentenced to ten years in a concentration camp. He dies in April 1945 during a death march near Auschwitz. The branch of ‘Koco’ in Rijnstraat continues under the same name, but with a new owner, NSB ‘er K.H. Botter. He proudly reports in advertisements that the ice cream parlour is now ‘Aryanised’.
On 25 February 1992, at the initiative of De Pijp district council, a commemorative stone is unveiled at the former premises of ‘Koco’ in Van Woustraat 149. The text recounts what happened in the premises during February 1941 and ends with: ‘Remember the fight against Nazism and fascism!’. Nowadays, on 4 May, ‘Koco’ is the final destination of a memorial walk through De Pijp that begins at the Van der Helstplein. There is a two-minute silence at 8pm that takes place in front of the former ice cream parlour, commemorating the victims of the Second World War.