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Rotterdam unveils monument to remember the 1944 Razzia

The Razzia Monument was unveiled on Friday at Parkkade in Rotterdam after years of preparation, lobbying, crowdfunding, and artistic efforts. It will serve as a lasting reminder of the 1944 Rotterdam razzia.

On November 10 and 11 1944, 52,000 young boys and men from Rotterdam and Schiedam were arrested and deported. The Germans aimed to remove all able-bodied men aged 17 to 40 from the city to prevent an attack from behind, explained René Versluis, the initiator of the memorial. Many of the deportees were forced to work as laborers in Germany, with about 500 not returning.

Following the liberation and their return home, the prevailing attitude was to not dwell on the past but to look forward and rebuild. There was therefore a risk that the razzia would be forgotten. To prevent this, René Versluis and Jan Willem Cleijpool, both sons of forced laborers, started a foundation in 2020 to establish a monument. They raised funds, collaborated with the city of Rotterdam, and enlisted Rotterdam singer and actor Gerard Cox as ambassador.

The monument, designed and created by visual artist Anne Wenzel, features two meter-high sculptures of a kneeling man and a standing woman, representing both the deported men and the devastated women, children, and mothers they left behind. Both sculptures have an orange “wound” symbolizing the moment of separation.

The Rotterdam razzia was the largest “manhunt” in the Netherlands. The population was taken by surprise and trapped as thousands of German soldiers surrounded the city. Attempts in The Hague and Delft were less “successful” due to the loss of the element of surprise and prior warnings to the men.

The unveiling of the monument was preceded by the annual commemoration of the razzia, traditionally held at De Kuip stadium, the primary gathering place in November 1944 for the men to be deported. From now on, this commemoration will take place at the new memorial at Parkkade. “The sculpture makes us aware of the impact of war,” said Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb before the unveiling.

https://nltimes.nl/2023/11/10/rotterdam-unveils-monument-remember-1944-razzia Rotterdam unveils monument to remember the 1944 Razzia

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