In the Netherlands, there is a clear distinction between the “Roma” who arrived from Hungary in 1868, and the German and French migrant groups of the Gypsies, who were called “Sinti”. Before World War II, there were 4,500 Roma and Sinti living in the Netherlands.
On Tuesday, May 16, 1944, an action was carried out all over the country to apprehend all Dutch Gypsies and resettle them to the Westerbork camp near Assen. On that day, 578 people were arrested all over the country, of whom 299 were released in after being taken to Westerbork (they were not Gypsies but lived among them), as were another 54 people who possessed passports issued by neutral or allied countries (Guatemala, Switzerland, Italy). The remaining 244 people were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on May 19, 1944. Only 31 of them survived the war.
The most famous Dutch victim of deportation to Westerbork and then to Auschwitz-Birkenau – is a 9-year-old Sinti girl, Settel Steinbach. For many years it was presumed that the girl appearing in the scene in Rudolf Breslauer’s documentary film from a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, wearing a headscarf, looking at a dog between the doors of a freight car – is Jewish. For many years, she remained the “icon” of the deportation of Jews from the Netherlands. However, on February 7, 1994, in a caravan in Spijkenisse, a Dutch journalist Aad Wagenaar heard from a Sinti woman called Crasy Wagner that the girl from the movie had long been recognised by Gypsies as Settela Steinbach. This case caused Aad Wagenaar to devote another 15 years of his life to research the extermination of Gypsies in the Netherlands, including the history of the Steinbach family, and the whole world learned about Settela Steinbach.
Description of commemoration
The memorial dedicated to the Roma and Sinti, located at Vondelstraat (opposite Bilderdijkstraat) is a cube made of Corten steel on which a bronze plaque is mounted. Inscriptions in Dutch are placed on a bronze plaque, directly on the monument’s steel, and on a metal square embedded in the surface of the pavement around the monument. In addition, there is a brass plaque nearby, pointing to the current location of the monument. The memorial in the Hague has its own history, which begins from a place marked by this brass “signpost” and a bronze plaque resembling a window with broken glass that was secured with wooden boards.
The first plaque, cast in bronze and resembling a broken window, was unveiled in 1990. It is located in the courtyard of the tenement house in Bilderdijkstraat, where the Gypsy Berger family lived before the war. All the residents of this building, along with other Roma and Sinti from 19 families living in The Hague – were deported on May 16, 1944. Of the total number of 112 Gypsies deported at the time, about 30 survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, including Magdalena and Joseph from the Berger family of Bilderdijkstraat.
The initiator of the creation of the plaque was a local Roma association, strongly supported by Lotte Walkate, a Jewish woman who survived Auschwitz (deceased in 2008). The name of the monument’s author has been forgotten…
In the year that followed the unveiling of the plaque – the area underwent major changes. Old tenement houses were demolished, and the courtyard in which the plaque was placed – closed to visitors, except for Liberation Day (May 5). Over the years, there were a number of difficulties, but eventually all parties – descendants of the Berger family, the city and other interested parties came to agreement: the plaque was moved to the square at the fork of Vondelstraat and Bilderdijkstraat. Initially it was placed on a concrete cube, and finally – on a monument made of steel – the one we can see today.
Near the courtyard which was the original location of the plaque, there is information about moving the memorial (about which we wrote above).
- The original plaque. Text in Dutch:
Bij het achterliggende hofje woonden tijdens de Duitse bezetting in de Tweede Wereldoorlog de familie Berger: vader, moeder, 3 zoons, 4 dochters en 1 kleinkind. Het gezin werd in de vroege ochtend van 16 mei 1944 samen met 18 andere Haagse zigeunergezinnen door Nederlandse politiemensen en NSB-landwachten uit hun huis gesleept en naar Westerbork overgebracht. Daar werden op 19 mei in het totaal 245 Roma en Sinti zigeuners naar de Duitse vernietigingskampen gedeporteerd en daar vergast of tewerkgesteld. Slechts 30 mensen keerden na de bevrijding van het nazisme naar Nederland terug, 16 vrouwen en 14 mannen.
The Berger family lived in this courtyard during the German occupation during World War II: father, mother, three sons, four daughters and one grandson. Another 18 Gypsy families from The Hague joined this family when, early in the morning of May 16, 1944, they were pulled out of their homes by Dutch police officers and NSB * and taken to Westerbork. From there, on May 19, a total of 245 Roma and Sinti Gypsies were transported to German concentration camps and gassed there. Only 30 people, 16 women and 14 men, returned to the Netherlands after liberation.
*NSB – paramilitary nationalistic units in the Netherlands
- The inscription in Dutch at the back:
Dit monument is ter nagedachtenis aan hen die op last van de Duitse bezetter door Nederlandse politiebeambten uit hun huizen werden gehaald en via Westerbork naar Auschwitz zijn afgevoerd. Nieuwe inzichten leren dat het aantal weggevoerde Sinti en Roma vele malen hoger moet zijn geweest dan lange tijd werd aangenomen. Van slechts een klein aantal zijn de namen bekend. De plaquette aan de voorkant van het monument (onthuld door de toenmalige burgemeester van Den Haag) heeft enige tijd gehangen bij de ingang van het voormalige hofje dat heeft gelegen aan de overkant aan de Bilderdijkstraat. Een tegel in de stoep herinnert thans aan dit verdwenen hofje.
This memorial is dedicated to people who were apprehended by Dutch policemen in their own homes on the orders of the German occupiers and transported to KL Auschwitz via Westerbork.
We already know that the number of deported Roma was many times higher than previously assumed. Only some names are known.
A plaque at the front of the monument (unveiled by the mayor of The Hague) hung earlier at the entrance to the former courtyard, on the other side of the Bilderdijkstraat. The plaque now reminds us where the now-non-existent courtyard was located.
Names – from joodsmonument:
Pierre Stangus, Coenraad Adolf Bannink, Josina Weiss, Johanna Helena Weisz, Sophie Mirosch, Catharina Caja Mirosch, Augusta Josephina Theresia Weisz, Anna Maria Weiss-Bamberger, Dora Wagner, Elisabeth Berger-Weiss, Maria Catharina Caja Mirosch, László Weiss, Marie Clemence Winterstein, Josef Winterstein, Carolina Winterstein, Robert Windersthin, Herman Windersthin, Anna Windersthin, Anna Windersthin, Heinrich Wiegand, Karl Weisz, Emil Weisz, Willem Weiss, Hugo Weiss, Heinrich Weiss, Heinrich Weiss, Heinrich Weiss, Eugen Weiss, Albert Weiss, Adam Weiss, Ludovicus Wagner, Florentina Wagner, Elisabeth Wagner, Anna Rose-Steinbach, Anna Rose, Tini Rose, Joseph Rose, Louis Rose, Karl Rose, Josephina Erna Rose, Johannes Rose, Ignatz Rose, Bernard Rose, August Rose, Erdman Rose, Louise Weiss-Grunholz, Emelie Bannink-Kreutz, Marthe Houssodin, Joseph Houssodin, Ludwig Grünholz, Ludwig Grünholz, Julius Paul Grünholz, Joseph Grunholz, Hendrik Grunholz, Gonda Grunholz, Elisabeth Juliana Grunholz, Conradus Adophus Grunholz, Anna Grunholz, Josefine Weiss-Georg, Katharina Winterstein-Freiwald, Hulde Grunholz-Franzen, Catharina Grünholz-Engelbert, Renold Berger, Maria Berger, Karoline Berger, Karoline Berger, Frans Berger, Maria Bannink, Maria Cilia Grünholz, Anna Weiss, Hari Weiss, Maria Antonia Grünholz-Meinhart, Maria Grünholz-Steinbach, Beatrix Emma Wijpkjen Mirosch
Date of the unveiling
Plaque: May 4, 1990
Memorial: March 27, 2006
Plaque: no information available
Memorial: The City Bureau of Architects in the Hague
The Roma Association in the Hague, Lotte Walkate
Descendants of the Berger family, The City of the Hague
Vondelstraat 46-2, 2513 Den Haag, Nederland
<iframe src=”https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d1225.1231477741323!2d4.301197253723114!3d52.08033422900149!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0x0!2zNTLCsDA0JzQ4LjciTiA0wrAxOCcwNC45IkU!5e0!3m2!1snl!2spl!4v1520109757962″ width=”600″ height=”450″ frameborder=”0″ style=”border:0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
See also: Den Haag and the Jewish Memorial – https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/344139/sinti-en-roma