04 October 2011

Former girl-school Gerrit van der Veestraat (Voormalige meisjes-HBS Gerrit van der Veenstraat)

Although I love Amsterdam a lot and enjoy the lively beauty of it, I experience a sentiment of emptiness or desolation in this town as well. For years I took these impressions for granted but only since a couple of years I became more alert to them.

From 2009 untill 2010 I did freelance work for The Shoah Foundation. This organisation, that was originally initiated by Steven Spielberg, collected world wide more than 50.000 video testimonies of Holocaust-survivors. Around 2000 interviews were about Holland (1000 of them were Dutch spoken and another 1000 in other languages). The coördination of these interviews was (and is) done by Denise Citroen.

I was watching the interviews, summarizing the stories and classifying it so people can easily search through them. It was very inspiring to hear and learn so much about this period. In total I indexed 128 interviews, from mainly Jewish survivors, but also quite a few Jehovah's Witness survivors, political prisoners, people that were active in the resistance and a Roma survivor.

For more information go here: Tweeduizend Getuigen Vertellen.

In many testimonies there were recollections about the Meisjes-HBS in the Gerrit van der Veenstraat (wich was called Euterpestraat than). After the German invasion the headquarters of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) were stationed there. People were interrogated in this building, imprisoned and more than often tortured. In 1944 the school was partly bombed and the headquarters moved to the Apollolaan.

In the first picture we see the square in front of the Meisjes-HBS. In the second picture we see the building itself.