Westerborkpad 0 & 1
HOLLANDSCHE SCHOUWBURG - DIEMEN (8,5 KM)
Anyone walking a stage of the Westerborkpad will never walk far away from the railroads. The track that provides the reflection for which this footpath was created. A trail that reminds one of the most cruel events in the recent history of the Netherlands. Where the deportation of Jews from Amsterdam to camp Westerbork took place. The path originates in the capital of the Netherlands at the front of the Hollandsche Schouwburg, literally the starting point of these atrocities.
But before you stand at the start of the official first stage of the Westerborkpad, it is possible to walk a small prologue. It starts at the city’s central station, a distinctive spot which is also convenient for starting this hike because this is a public transport hub. From here, you walk westwards and soon arrive in the Jordaan, a typical Amsterdam neighbourhood characterised by its atmosphere. The route then takes you past the Anne Frank House and the statue of this girl who keeps the memory of the consequences of the war on the Jewish community . A museum that is certainly worth a visit if you want to delve deeper into the intense story of Anne Frank.
Via the ‘9 straatjes’ and the city centre you walk towards the Jewish neighbourhood around the Waterlooplein. Here you pass the Hermitage, the Jewish historical museum, the Portuguese synagogue and the Jonas Daniël Meijer square before you reach the starting point of the Westerborkpad. On this square, named after the first Jewish lawyer in the Netherlands (Jonas Daniël Meijer), the first major razzia in Amsterdam took place on 22 and 23 February 1941.
The Hollandsche Schouwburg
In front of the Hollandsche Schouwburg, the first stage of the Westerborkpad begins, which is a reminder of the journey that many Jewish Dutch people made during the Second World War. During the war, this old theatre served as a gathering place from which Jews were deported via Camp Westerbork and Camp Vught to the extermination camps of Nazi Germany.
You walk further via Plantage Middenlaan and the Oosterpark into Amsteram-East. The neighbouhood around the Oosterpark is named the same as the parc. Within this neighbourhood many Jewish people lived before the war. Unfortunately, few characteristics of this neighbourhood have been preserved because many people were taken out of their houses during the razzias and when the hunger winter set in, the houses were plundered for firewood.
From the Oosterpark, you walk further East towards the Transvaal neighbourhood. In this neighbourhood, memories of the war have literally been preserved within the streets. Photos and works of art referring to the events can be seen on the houses. Before the war, many Jews lived in this neighbourhood and many of them were forced to live here before the raids. This made it easy for the Germans to oversee the Jewish population in the city. Today, it is a multicultural neighbourhood, but the memories remain visible on every street corner.
The remaining part of this walk gives you time for reflection. You leave the city via the edge of the Flevopark, where one of the larger Jewish cemeteries is located, and then walk along the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal towards Diemen. Arriving at the railway station, the continuation of this long-distance walk starts with a journey along the railroads.