“Oranjehotel” was the popular name for a part of the prison in Scheveningen (near The Hague), in use by the Germans during the Second World War. Throughout the war, about 25.000 resistance fighters and other Dutch people who resisted the German occupation in any way were enprisoned here, while their case was treated by the Nazi courts of justice. After the German judges would come to a conviction, the prisoners were either liberated , sent to German concentration camps or executed at the nearby Waalsdorpervlakte. The 215 prisoners that were executed spent their last days in the death cells in the middle row of cells, the D-row. Early in the morning they would leave the prison to a small gate (het Poortje) to be brought to the Waalsdorpervlakte for execution. An estimated 25.000 people, from all parts of the Netherlands, were at one moment in time imprisoned in the Oranjehotel.
After the war, special monuments were created in the Oranjehotel. In row D of the cell complex one of the death cells has been kept in its original state and is called “Death Cell 601”. Even the writing of the prisoners on the walls were kept – impressive statements of fear and suffering.
In 1945 the small gate (“het Poortje”) in the long prison wall along the Van Alkemadelaan was closed to be opened only once a year, when the participants in the annual Commemoration enter the complex through it. The Death Books, which contain the names and biographies of the executed former prisoners, form a unique paper monument for the Oranjehotel and are placed in Death Cell 601 during the Commemoration. On the outside prison wall a commemorative plaque with the words “Zij waren eensgezind”, “They were unanimous” was placed.
Two sculptures stretch through the long corridor where Death Cell 601 is located. The frames hold hundreds of portraits from the Death Books. It refers to the grant scale of Oranjehotels history and shows us the faces of people who stayed here more then 70 years ago. The photographs alternate with grey frames representing the portraits of all the people we are still missing.
‘Doodenboek’ will be on permanent display from the 5th of May 2015 at the Oranjehotel Scheveningen Prison, the Hague. Visit: by appointment only www.oranjehotel.org