As a young man, my granddad Ton ten Holder and his brother Jan stayed for a short period at the Oranjehotel in The Hague city district Scheveningen. Really unfortunately, this hotel was not specialised in lovely sunlit holidays by the seaside…
On 28 July 1940, my granddad and his brother try to cross the North Sea by boat together with two friends. Their plan was to get to England and from there to help liberate The Netherlands from the nazis. Just before the estuary of the river Thames, the unthinkable happens: the boat’s engine breaks down and they drift all the way back to the beach of Dunkirk, France. There they are arrested. Their horrific captivity of twice two years ends eventually on April 29, 1945, when allied troops free the prisoners of the Dachau concentration camp. But just like for so many other captured Dutch citizens in that time, their imprisonment starts here, in The Hague, in a cell of a Scheveningen prison then euphemistically nicknamed the Oranjehotel.
Nowadays, only prison cell 601 is still in its original state: this is the heart of National Monument Oranjehotel. Together with the adjacent exhibits, cell 601 gives a penetrating insight into prison life during World War 2. And although this war ended more than 75 years ago already, visiting Nationaal Monument Oranjehotel in The Hague city district Scheveningen is in my opinion still a powerful way to remember what things like oppression and persecution really mean.