Amsterdam billboards to turn into war monuments for Remembrance Day

Digital billboards in Amsterdam turned into temporary war monuments on Remembrance Day, 4 May 2019
Digital billboards in Amsterdam turned into temporary war monuments on Remembrance Day, 4 May 2019. (Photo: Koolhoven & Partners/Screenshot/YouTube)

Seventeen digital billboards in the center of Amsterdam will temporarily be changed into war memorials on Remembrance Day on May 4th. Between 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, the billboards will tell the stories of Amsterdam people who played an important role during the war, NOS reports. 

In white letters on a black background, the temporary war memorials will show the names of people from the war, along with a quote and a QR code that people can scan with their smartphone to get more of the story behind the name. The billboards are located on Spui, Leidseplein, Rokin and Rembrandtplein. The stories that are told happened in those places. 

One of the stories told on the billboards is that of resistance fighter Isa Baschwitz. She ensured that the truce of May 7th, 1945 was communicated to all soldiers. She spoke German and wanted to stop the shooting immediately, her son Bubo Damen said to AT5. "There were two parties at a distance from each other that kept making each other's lives miserable. There was no solution. The only thing that you could do was to try and make contact", Damen said.

Baschwitz walked across Dam square with bullets flying past her. Over 30 people were killed and about a hundred injured in the shooting on Dam square that day. According to her son, Baschwitz didn't care. She knew that someone had to inform the soldiers about the truce and get them to stop shooting. She finally managed to reach both sets of soldiers and tell them about the cease fire. A Dutch commander later wrote in a report: "The smooth running of the negotiations is due to the determined and brave attitude of Isa Baschwitz." 

The idea of the temporary war monuments was thought up by an employee of an ad agency, who was annoyed by the ads popping up during special moments on Remembrance Day. Various parties participated in the implementation of the plan, including Amsterdam's 4 and 5 May committee.