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The Oranjehotel was the nickname of the Polizeigefängnis, the house of detention in Scheveningen during World War Two. More than 25,000 people were imprisoned here between 1940 and 1945. The Oranjehotel was soon used for detaining and interrogating members of the Dutch resistance, the first of whom were taken into custody in early 1941.
People were arrested for various acts of resistance or Deutschfeindlichkeit (‘Germanophobia’), ranging from listening to Radio Orange to committing attacks on Germans. Some were released once their cases were heard by the Nazis, but many thousands were sentenced to extended periods in German camps or detention centres. The nickname ‘Oranjehotel’ was first mentioned in the illegal newspaper ‘Vrij Nederland’ on 8 March 1941. A well-known verse scribbled on the prison wall also dates from this period: ‘In deze bajes / zit geen gajes / maar Hollands glorie / potverdorie!’ (‘In this cooler / there’s no riffraff / Holland’s pride / Goddamn!’).
The prisoners included various renowned figures, such as the Leiden University professor Rudolph Cleveringa, the cleric Titus Brandsma, George Maduro, Pim Boellaard, Henri Pieck, Simon Vestdijk, Heinz Polzer (Drs. P.), Corrie ten Boom and ‘Soldier of Orange’ Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, who stated:
“My stay in the Oranjehotel lasted only a week, that was all. All the same, during that time I experienced all the emotions of the political prisoner: fear, uncertainty, boredom, loneliness, hunger and more boredom. But in the evenings, I also felt the warmth of the Dutch people around me. And in the boredom and hunger, I recognised with pride the price of my conviction. And throughout the fear and uncertainty, I maintained my faith that justice would prevail.”
It is certain that 734 members of the resistance met their deaths via the Oranjehotel. Some 250 of these prisoners were sentenced to death and executed on the Waalsdorpervlakte. Many more were deported to concentration camps.
In May 1945, the house of detention returned to Dutch hands. During that year, many members of the NSB, including Anton Mussert and other Dutch citizens suspected of war crimes, were imprisoned in Scheveningen.
The Waalsdorpervlakte is located in the Meijendel dune area near The Hague. During World War Two, more than 250 people, including many members of the Dutch resistance, were executed here by the occupying Nazi forces. The Waalsdorpervlakte is one of the most important Dutch war memorials.
The construction of the Atlantic Wall, an anti-tank trench through large stretches of The Hague and Scheveningen, commenced in 1943 as part of ‘Fortress Scheveningen’. Around a quarter of The Hague’s residents had to leave their homes. Houses were demolished and cleared and trees were felled. The line left a trail of destruction in its wake. The Puin Monument represents the mountains of rubble from demolished buildings.
Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, ‘Soldier of Orange’, experienced the war very differently to most of his fellow Dutch citizens. He was involved with the student resistance and was imprisoned but managed to escape. Aside from resistance activities in London as well, Roelfzema also spent time with the secret service and the RAF and took part in landings at Scheveningen. He went on to become an aide-de-camp to Queen Wilhelmina, with whom he returned to Dutch soil on 2 May 1945.
George John Lionel Maduro survived almost until the end of the war, when he died in a weakened state in Dachau. Maduro distinguished himself by his conduct during the Battle for The Hague and through his resistance, imprisonment and multiple escape attempts. But betrayal ensured that he did not survive the war. The miniature village of Madurodam in The Hague is a tribute to this unflinching and determined fighter.