When Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants settled in Amsterdam in the 17th century, they started trading on the streets because Jews were not permitted to own shops.
The first stall was set up in what was to become the Jewish Quarter in 1783.
A new city square called the “Waterlooplein” was created in 1882 after several canals in the area were filled in and stallholders were made to transfer to this new location under a compulsory order.
The move was met with anger and resistance since the new site was exposed and windy and there were fears that the new market area would not be able to attract customers, but these fears turned out to be unfounded as the market quickly grew in popularity.
By September 1941 Jews were no longer allowed to trade in public markets but only on specially designated places that were two former playgrounds.
On May 25th 1943 Jews were told to report to police on a voluntarily basis in response to a call-up that had been given. When only 500 turned up, the following day on May 26th, a raid took place in Amsterdam that saw 3000 Jews deported by train to extermination camps.
In total approximately 107,000 Dutch Jews were to extermination camps in Eastern Europe, and only about 5,000 survived to make the return.
During the German occupation of Amsterdam, the The German occupiers declared the Waterlooplein and the area immediately around it to be a Jewish ghetto.
Houses here were looted during the 1944 starvation winter and almost none of the Jewish market stallholders survived the war.
In the decades following the 1960′s the market began again as hippy culture took hold and more recently in the 1990′s a flea market returned, mostly dealing in bric-a-brack, trendy new and second-hand clothes, music, electronic and general items. You’ll find it at Waterlooplein, 1011 PG Amsterdam.
On the back-sides of the stalls, you will find large copies of archive photographs that show you what the Jewish market place looked like before the war changed life here forever.
At the corner of the Amstel and Zwanenburgwal you will find the Jewish Resistance Monument. Crafted in 1988 by Belgian sculptor Josef Glatt it’s a tall black granite pillar, that on one side has text in Hebrew and Dutch that says: ‘Were my eyes fountains of tears then would I weep day and night for the fallen fighters of my beloved people.’ (this text being a quote taken from the lament of the prophet Jeremiah)
I very much like that something that been done to preserve the memory of an entire district that was almost entirely wiped out in the human madness that was one of histories darkest hours.
Naturally the best way to see these photos is from the water, so yet another ‘excuse” (if you ever needed one) to take a trip with the St. Nicolaas Boat Club of Amsterdam! Soon after this we find ourselves making our way back to our starting point… We have had a fabulous time and already decided to do it again some time soon. Next time we will bring a picnic lunch to enjoy during the ride.
Diego has been a fabulous Captain and we’ve been puttering up and down the canals for hours so clearly a generous donation towards running costs of the little tuindersvlet boat is a fair way to say “Thank You“.