Metaal, natuursteen en boom
Zuid-Hollandplein, Den Haag
52.087248571171, 4.3167163890938 View on map
Operation Snowdrop. Under this almost poetic name, a raid was launched in The Hague in the early morning of 21 November 1944. Throughout the war, the German occupiers had been recruiting forced labourers. But that morning was different. All streets were closed off. Boys and men between seventeen and forty were forced to report with warm clothes, sturdy shoes, blankets and food.
In two days, 8,000 men were herded into the city. One of the assembly points was the zoo in The Hague. From there, they were transported to Germany on overfull barges to work. Working 12 hours a day, hunger, cold, bad hygienic conditions and the SS regime made forced labour hard. Many of them died. Once back home in the post-war Netherlands, things were not easy for the survivors either. They were seen as collaborators and received little understanding for the hardships they had gone through. And yet they were also victims of the Nazi regime.
That is why former convict Piet Kool (1924-2009), chairman of the South Holland department of the ex-convicts association Netherlands (1987-2000), took the initiative to erect a monument. It was unveiled on 1 November 1999 in the courtyard of the South Holland Provincial Building, built on the site of the former zoo. The Hague sculptor and designer Marcel Prins was responsible for the design. He placed a tree with a plaque containing explanatory text on a small elevation. Prins placed a steel ring on top of the brick elevation. On the inside, the human figures are reminiscent of the logo of the association. On the outside, the text is inscribed:
Because that's even more poignant: to be a victim, to be violated and to have to fight for recognition of this yourself...'.
Thus, with this memorial, almost 55 years later, justice was still done to the suffering of the forced labourers.