Read a few books about Dutch history and you’ll quickly learn about the effects World War II had on The Netherlands, and of course its Jewish population. What I admire about Den Haag’s Holocaust Memorial is its Chinatown location: smack in the middle of the city centre, perhaps one block away from the densest commercial district in town, immediately in front of Den Haag’s historic ‘Nieuwe Kerk’ (unlike the ‘Oude Kerk’, this one is merely 350 years old), and facing a large public square full of sushi restaurants, Korean barbecue, and a well-attended playground. This way, one literally cannot avoid seeing the memorial. And, as sacred as the memorial is, it’s also part of daily life here.
A walk around the square reveals more: its name for one thing (‘Rabbijn Maarsenplein’), which indicates the historic parallels Chinese emigres have with Jews, both having taken quarter in the same neighbourhood at different points of Den Haag’s history. Walk a few paces from the main monument (pictured), and you’ll literally bump into bronze suitcases fastened to the ground (their owners long since ‘disappeared’). Look to your left and right, and you’ll see memorial shrubs that make the entire square feel like one big memorial, no matter the foot traffic. History must be remembered or it will be repeated, and in Den Haag, one never forgets.