The Oranjehotel in Scheveningen was the prison in the Second World War where Dutch people that had resisted the German occupier in whatever way possible, were imprisoned, interrogated and prosecuted. For most prisoners the stay at the Oranjehotel was not a long one, and was followed by either release, by further imprisonment, often in Germany, or by execution.
In the war
In the first days of the war, the Scheveningen prison was used for German prisoners of war, but after the Dutch capitulation the Germans took over the prison. The prison was not meant to be used to serve long sentences, but was primarily the place where arrested Dutch prisoners were to be interrogated and prosecuted. Many prisoners were set free, others were sentenced to endure long punishments in German camps. 215 prisoners of the Oranjehotel were, after being sentenced to death, executed at the Waalsdorpervlakte. An estimated 25.000 people in total have been imprisoned at the Oranjehotel. Usually around 1200 – 1500 people were people were imprisoned in the Oranjehotel at one time, many sharing a cell. Exact details are missing, because the Germans destroyed their archives about the prison in May 1945. Titus Brandsma and Rudolph Cleveringa are two of the most prominent Oranjehotel prisoners.
It is not known how the prison became known under the name “Oranjehotel”. This name developed over time and was already an established name for the prison early on in the war. After the war many inscriptions were found in the walls of the cells, showing fear and hope. A large number of inscriptions was transcribed in the memorial book of the Oranjehotel by E.P. Weber. His Gedenkboek van het Oranjehotel contains much information about prisoners. It was compiled in 1945 and reprinted in 1947.
The foundation Stichting Oranjehotel maintains the memory of the Oranjehotel 1940-1945 within the Penitentiary Institution Haaglanden in Scheveningen. The Oranjehotel Monument consists of three parts: Death Cell 601, the small gate het Poortje, through which prisoners were led from the prison to the Waalsdorpervlakte, and a memorial plaque Zij waren eensgezind (They were unanimous). A fourth monument is formed by the Books of the Dead, four books in which 734 prisoners of the Oranjehotel that died in the war are remembered. The pages of these books can be viewed on the website of the National Archive.
The Waalsdorpervlakte is closely connected to the Oranjehotel. Situated a short distance from the Oranjehotel in the dunes of Scheveningen, this location in the dunes was used by the Germans to execute those sentenced to death. These prisoners spent their last nights in the Oranjehotel, mostly in the death cells in the D-corridor. Usually early in the morning, the prisoners were taken out of their cells, and walked through het Poortje to a truck waiting for them on the Van Alkemadelaan, which took them to the dunes of the Waalsdorpervlakte to be executed. Bronze crosses in the dunes now form the Waalsdorpervlakte monument, which is managed by the “Vereniging Erepeloton Waalsdorp”. The impressive Bourdon clock was established in 1959, with a beautiful text by prof. Rudolph Cleveringa:
“Ik luid tot roem en volging van die hun leven gaven tot wering van onrecht, tot winning der vrijheid en tot waring en verheffing van al Neerlands geestelijk goed”
“I chime to glorify and to follow those who gave their life for the defeat of injustice, in the pursuit of freedom, and for the preservation of the Dutch honour and spirit”