Sunday May 26th. A dark shadow cast on an Amsterdam canal.

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 26th, 2013

Today exactly 70 years ago the Germans rounded up the Jewish residents on the Nieuwe Keizersgracht. The length of a city block with about 30 residences. Two hundred of these men, women and children were murdered in places like Auschwitz and Sobibor.

Today a very fitting memorial to the victims was unveiled. This is the hard work of an organization, mainly comprised of the current residents of the canal houses: . Schaduwkade translates to Shadow Quay. The homes face north but have beautiful deep gardens on the southern back side. And the North side of the canal has never had residences. It is now part of the Hermitage museum. And on the water’s edge, of the north side, the names of the holocaust victims are set in the stone quay wall opposite their former residences. The idea of identifying the former residences of Holocaust victims originated in Germany as the so called “Stolpersteine” and it has been taken up all over Western Europe.

My interest in this event is that I became friends with the granddaughter of one of the residents of the Schaduwkade, Mirjam Hanina-Tafelkruijer. Her grandfather, Jozeph Tafelkruijer, lived in house number 20. His sister in law, Erna Tafelkruijer-Oloffson, was in the same three concentration camps as our mother. Erna and her husband Wim had hidden Mirjam’s brother, then a baby, in their home. They were betrayed and both ended up being arrested. Because Erna was a gentile she ended up as a political prisoner just like our mother. Mirjam’s brother was rescued out of Camp Westerbork by a falsified birth certificate, changing his ethnicity.

The below picture shows Mrs. Betty van Essen-Kok, who lived in number 24. She is the sole survivor from her family of five. She went into hiding as a teenager. Anne Frank would have been her age today. Coincidentally at the same address, number 24, operated a very efficient resistance group “Gerretsen”, they ran a printing press for falsified i.d’s , illegal news papers, etc. Another picture shows Suzanne Rodrigues-Pereira addressing the attendees. She is the driving force behind this project, related to Portuguese Jews of this neighborhood and living in number 20, where Mirjam’s grandparents lived.

Chazzan Sacha van Ravenswade sang the Kaddish old prayer. It was emotional, fitting and a piece of history we must never forget and never let happen again.




3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Mike Lees says:

    I have just returned from a short break in Amsterdam, on our various wanderings around the city we happened upon the Shadow Canal memorial. It really brings home what happened in Europe in those dreadful times. I would urge anyone visiting the city to visit this site. These sort of horrendous acts must not be forgotten.

  2. jackvanommen says:

    I agree. Thanks for sharing your impressions.

  3. betty van essen-kok says:

    You might be Dutch according to your name.

    I am looking again what happened May 26 and found your name. I had no idea someone wrote about the unveling on the Nieuwe keizersgracht.

    Anyhow, thanks a lot. Kind regards, Betty vanEssen-Kok Jerusalem.