National Monument Amsterdam
Public Art : National Monument Amsterdam
Also known as : Nationaal Monument or Nationaal
Monument op de Dam
Sculptors: © Sculptures are by John Radecker and his
sons Han and Jan Willem Radecker. The reliefs by sculptor Paul Gregoire.
Architect: J.J.P. Oud
Description: The World War II monument is a 22m high
concrete conical pillar covered by white travertine stone. On the front side is a relief entitled De Vrede
("Peace") which shows 4 chained male figures symbolising the suffering of soldiers during the war. On either side
of the relief are two male sculptures, the one on the left representing the resistance by the intelligentsia
and the one on the right representing the resistance by the working classes.At their feet are dogs weeping. Above
the central relief is a woman with a child in her arms and doves flying above her, symbolic of victory and peace.
At the back of the monument is a relief showing doves flying towards the sky, symbolic of freedom. on either side
of the monument are two lions symbolizing the Netherlands. The semicircular wall encompassing the monument contains
11 urns which hold soil from World War II execution grounds and war cemeteries in each of the Dutch provinces. A
12th urn was added later and it contains soil from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).
Date Unveiled: The National Monument was unveiled on
4th May, 1956 by Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.
"Hic ubi cor patriae monumentum cordibus intus
quod gestant cives spectet ad astra dei."
Loosely translated ...
"Here, where the heart of the fatherland is, may this monument, which citizens carry in their
heart, gaze at God's stars"
Location: The obelisk is located in Dam Square in
Background to Amsterdam's National Monument: Prior to
the erecting of the present National Monument there was another monument called the De Eendacht (also known as
Naatje van de Dam) commemmorating the Ten Days' Campaign in Dam Square. When World War II ended in 1945 a liberty
pole was erected at the square with the Government promising a permanent national monument would soon be built. In
the meantime a temporary monument by A.J. van de Steur and Auke Komter was erected in 1947. This
monument consisted of the 11 urns which, three years later became 12 urns after an additional urn with soil from
the Dutch East Indies was added (now incorporated into the wall).
John Radecker won the commission to design the new national monument, and in 1946 his designs were
exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum. The final design was approved by the Dutch government in 1952 but by then
Radecker was in declining health. He would die four months before its completion leaving his sons Hans and Jan
Willem to complete the project with architech J.J.P Oud.
During the 1960's and 70's the National Monument became a hang out for hippies. Every night you
would find a considerably large group of hippies sleeping around the monument in sleeping bags which became known
as Damslapen ("Dam-sleeping"). Chill man, it was the symbol of liberty!
On the 24th of August 1970, the municipal government announced they were banning Damslapen.
As you can imagine the hippies weren't happy and suddenly authorities had a riot on their hands. The rebellion went
all night until off-duty marines appeared the next day to clear them out. The hippies decided not to return but
instead relocate to Vondelpark.
The monument has had two considerable restorations, one in 1965 and then 1997-98. In the later
restoration the entire structure was dismantled and the brick interior of the central pillar was replaced by
concrete. How's that for trivia?