National Monument Cenotaph on Dam Square

The National Monument on Dam Square is a cenotaph in remembrance of those who fell in the Second World War. The steps of the National Monument are a popular place in Amsterdam to rest, eat a snack or do some people watching. The Remembrance Day ceremony takes places here on 4 May each year. The trumpet plays the Last Post followed by 2 minutes’ silence and then the king and many others lay wreaths. In 1969, the steps of the monument ware the epicenter of the hippies who stayed there day and night.

The National Monument

The National Monument was designed by John Raedecker, who died before the monument was completed. His sons Han and Jan Willem Raedecker completed the work. The National Monument consists of a 22-meter tall obelisk with a statue representing Peace halfway up. The four handcuffed men at the front represent The War. To the right and left are two men from the resistance with howling dogs symbolizing Sorrow and Fidelity. Two lions stand in front of the monument. On 4 May 1956, the late Queen Juliana unveiled the National Monument.

A curved wall encompasses the monument and contains urns filled with the soil of military cemeteries in the eleven Dutch provinces and one with soil from the former Dutch East Indies. The text on the wall reads: “Earth, consecrated by sacrifice, gathered together from all the land, sign of remembrance and strong bond forever.”

Flower Power and Dam Sleepers

In the late 1960s, Dam Square and the National Monument was the meeting place for young people from all over the world. These were the flower power days. They smoked cannabis and danced and listened to psychedelic music. At night, Dam Square resembled one big open-air hotel. If the weather was favourable there could be as many as one thousand so called dam sleepers on the square. On 24 August 1970, a sleeping ban came into force, but was ignored. The next day, the Marines cleaned up the Square and removed the dam sleepers in a heavy-handedly. The hippies did not return to Dam Square but settled in Vondelpark where they set up camp and stayed for another five years.

Related articles
Dam Square, the heart of Amsterdam
Palace without Royals

Foto’s Albert van den Boomen en Marianne Crone