30 September 2011


This picture was taken while I was standing in the Jan Steenstraat with my camera focussing on the Ceintuurbaan. This means that I was photographing straight through the Sarphatipark. It was very late and very dark. While standing there two little lights appeared, quite suddenly, in the darkness of the park. I wanted to get these lights on the picture as well, so I tried to catch them with my camera. While doing that I saw that the lights changed direction and moved towards me. At once two policewomen on a bike were standing right in front of me asking what I was doing there (they had seen the little red light of my camera and were wondering what it was). The three of us were all attracted by suspicous little lights at that specific moment in the Sarphatipark.

28 September 2011

24 September 2011

The Asscher Diamond Factory on the Tolstraat 127

For me this blog is like a wandering journey through this town. While rambling I am more led by the atmosperes of certain locations than by the historical facts. Like in my own home or livingroom each object has an anecdote connected to it. The pictures below show the Asscher Diamond Factory. I heard a lot of stories about this factory while working for the Shoah Foundation. But it was not untill recently that I discovered that it's actually located not so far from my own house in the Van Ostadestraat.

The factory became well known in the beginning of the 20th century for a special octagonal diamond cut (Asscher cut) that was developped by Joseph Asscher. The company was first based in the centre but later this new factory was build in De Pijp wich was the border of the city at that time. The new streets that arised around the factory in the thirties were called after various gemstones (Diamantbuurt). In that period the factory came under the direction of Abraham Asscher (Joseph's brother)

In the thirties Asscher was a big employer for many Jewish diamond cutters. During world war II Abraham was (together with David Cohen) designated by the germans to be the chairman of the Joodsche Raad. They became a tool of the nazi's in the deportation of tens of thousands Amsterdam Jews. Eventually Abraham Asscher and his family were deported to Bergen-Belsen in 1943 where they survived the war.

I imagine now all the tensions that the diamond workers experienced while working here in the thirties. The rumors, the threats and than the horrible stories of the refugees from Germany, escalating in the invasion of the nazi's and the oppression. It all feels very nearby while looking at this plain and modest entry of the factory somehow.

There are more posts to be found on the next page. Just click "older" posts (button on the right-down side).

22 September 2011

Skyscraper/Wolkenkrabber Victorieplein (J.F. Staal)

When I was going out to make this photograph it was very bad weather. Rain, wind, hail etc. It was hard to get a good position for the camera and I almost got hit by bus 15. At last I found a chance to take some pictures but my I expectations were not very high. Later when I came home and saw the images on my computer I was kind of touched. The once so sturdy skyscraper of Staal appeared to me as a vulnerable and sensitive Grande Dame.

The skyscraper is positioned precisely on the spot where the Rooseveltlaan and the Churchillaan come together. On the backside of the building there is a triangle-shaped square called Merwedeplein. A picture of the Merwedeplein is also on this weblog. Anne Frank and her family lived on that square from 1933 till 1942 (when they went in hiding). This means that, when the Frank's lived there, it was a very new and modern neighborhood (as we see also in this film-clip about the Berlagebrug). So many things happened in this Rivierenbuurt district. It's almost as if the Grande Dame of the Victorieplein carries all the stories with her. 

18 September 2011

Van der Helstplein on a stormy night

The Van der Helstplein is just around the corner from where I live. I like this picture because the atmosphere is so archa├»c and rough. While writing  in this blog and making the pictures it becomes much clearer to me that De Pijp arised from a completely different mentality than Plan-Zuid. I read that there were very promising plans before they started building it (around 1850) but there was no money for it. It came to a plan with no social coherence, just a lot of cheap houses (jerry-building). 

14 September 2011


Another view on the Amstel river. The houses on the other side are part of the Diamantbuurt district that I already mentioned in the post about the Asscher factory. The water seems to be streaming pretty fast on this picture. I also like the rythm of the lights in combination with the vertical reflections in the water. This was a very jazzy moment in the diamond-district. 

13 September 2011

10 September 2011

About this blog and The Berlagebrug

A few months ago I started to make these long walks along the Amstel. While strolling along the Weesperzijde I had a nice view over the river and all the houses on the Amsteldijk. The pitch black water, the grey capricious skies, the lights, the reflections. Sometimes I was imagining the Amstel to be a continuous stream of black ink just streaming into the city and there was nothing we could do about it.

On the Berlagebrug there are these little extensions (erkers) from where you have a nice position to watch the river float gently into the city. While standing there one evening I realized that I live now for more then half of my life in Amsterdam. 22 years is quite a long time and at that moment it felt like the right moment to do something with it. I decided to take my camera with me while browsing the Amstel river and this strange city; that I never called my hometown but I think I will from now on.

Here is a short film-clip about the opening of the Berlagebrug in 1932. It's impressing to see this part of the city in the construction phase. The film presents a brand new world full of life and opportunities. Nevertheless the crisis of the thirties was already present at that time.

12-10-2011 Sander Haccou