Dachau Memorial

A memorial in the Amsterdam Forest

"In remembrance of their friends who perished in the camp, the Dutch Dachau survivors erected a monument over 50 years after the liberation of the camp. Right from the start, one of the principles was that it had to be located in Amsterdam, the capital of our country. Eventually, a beautiful spot was found in the Amsterdam Forest, directly across from the rowing club. It is an impressive monument that truly deserves to be visited.''

When someone once asked, 'Where is the Dachau Monument exactly?' the answer was, 'The monument does not stand, it lies.'' And so it does: a sixty-meter-long street made of Belgian bluestone, 2.35 meters wide, with a row of tall trees on either side. Just like in Dachau itself, where tall poplars are laying along the Lagerstrasse. Here, it's a neatly trimmed yew hedge, 3.5 meters high, which over the years will grow to a height of five meters.

In this street, the names of five hundred concentration camps and satellite camps are engraved. Only the most significant ones, as there were actually many more. The designer of this memorial is the visual artist Niek Kemps. He designed a monument to walk through. The floor of the walking path is uneven, slightly elevated in the middle, reminiscent of the difficulties prisoners of concentration camps faced while walking. 

First, Prince Bernhard and Princess Juliana walked the uneven path during the opening ceremony on December 3, 1996. After that, the other attendees walked through the monument, 60 meters forward, 60 meters back. As you walk along the blue sidewalk, you read the names of the terrible places brought to memory here.

The children of the Merkelbach School in Amsterdam, which adopted the monument, stand at the entrance of the monument during the annual commemoration ceremony and hand a flower to everyone entering the monument. A spontaneous tradition has emerged; everyone gradually places their flowers on the left and right of the imposing hedge. Colors that enliven these dark green walls, small tributes to those who never returned home.

During the Dachau reunion in April 1997, after all those years, for the first time at their own monument, this tradition was not only continued, it was further expanded. There is now an order in those who walk through the monument. The former Dachau survivors lead the way; one by one, as if it were a roll call, their names are called out. They are followed by relatives and guests in random order. One by one, holding a flower, they enter the monument. Lastly, other attendees are invited to follow, policemen, orchestra members, and the general public. Everyone is welcome in the Dachau Monument.

In 2020 and 2021, the commemoration has taken place in private due to COVID-19 measures. We are happy to be able to hold the memorial service again after difficult times.

Dachau Memorial 2023

On April 22, 2023, the Dachau Commemoration once again took place in the Amsterdamse Bos at the National Dachau Monument. Speakers included the Mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, and Jo Kapteyn, son of former Dachau survivor Jo Kapteyn Sr. Music was provided by the Regiment Band 'Garde Grenadiers en Jagers.' We are once again grateful to the staff of the Amsterdamse Bos for their general support.

Watch last year's Dachau Memorial

Opening words by Thom Tullenaar

Speech by Wimar Jaeger

Speech by Arianne de Jong, director of the National Committee 4th and 5th of May

Speech by children of the Merkelbachschool