Monuments at 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 on the last Saturday of September enter the complex through it. Every year some 400 people gather for the Commemoration. An important part of the Commemoration is a silent walk through the former prison, passing Death Cell 601, where the attendants stand still and pay respect by placing flowers and wreaths. In the cell complex’ row D the sound of the Bourdon clock on the “Waalsdorpervlakte” can be heard. 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. Afterwards the flowers are placed on the outside wall under the commemorative plaque with the words “Zij waren eensgezind”, “They were unanimous”.
Death Cell 601
A number of cells in the middle row of the Oranjehotel, the D-row, were used as death cells. Here prisoners that were sentenced to death awaited the order to pass through het Poortje and make their way to the truck that would bring them to the Waalsdorpervlakte. In their last hours the prisoners were allowed to talk to each other, pray, cry or sing. In some cases they were allowed to write a letter. One of the death cells, Death Cell 601, has been kept in its original state and now forms an impressive authentic Monument. A portrait of Queen Wilhelmina now hangs above the door. The walls show the authentic inscriptions of the prisoners, which expressed their hope, fear and their longing for home. Death Cell 601 is the core to the annual Commemoration.
Het Poortje is a small gate situated in the long exterior wall of the prison and has a green door. When the prisoners made their final way to the ‘Waalsdorpervlakte’, and more than 200 people did, they saw the dune landscape opposite the prison for one last time. After the war het Poortje way was closed. Only during the annual Commemoration of the Oranjehotel it is opened so the participants can enter the prison complex. Next to het Poortje there is a plaque with the following poetic line, written by Anthonie Donker,: “Remember their last passage through this low gate, having offered their lives for freedom and justice. Continue their battle”.
Memorial Plaque They were unanimous
In 1950 Queen Juliana unveiled a plaque on the exterior wall of the Oranjehotel. This monument, designed by Albert Termote, expresses the unanimous spirit of the prisoners and reads “Zij waren eensgezind”, “They were unanimous”. The true to life relief symbolizes prisoners who, chained to each other, encircle a liberty tree. They are surrounded by a barrier and are amidst snakes who raise their heads.
The Death Books
The Death Books are four volumes with photos and biographies of 734 resistance people who have been killed in the war, during or after their stay at the Oranjehotel. The Death Books were compiled shortly after the war, based on the then available information on former prisoners of the Oranjehotel. The information is far from complete, but the books form an impressive monument for those who were killed. During the annual Commemoration the Death Books are placed in Death Cell 601. Normally, they are kept by the National Archives and can be read digitally at a site of the National Archive.
Besides the Death Books, a memorial book of the Oranjehotel was compiled during 1946-1947, by E.P. Weber. In this book the life and personal history of prisoners -or in many cases just a name- are described.