From 'Oranjehotel' to Memorial Centre
During the Second World War, the former cell barracks in which the Memorial Centre is housed served as a prison for political prisoners. The penal institution – which already received the honorific name ‘Oranjehotel’ during the occupation – was a central spot for the persecution of resistance in the occupied Netherlands. After the Second World War political delinquents were locked up there and it became a prison in 1950, which was part of the Penitentiary Institution Haaglanden until 2009. After years of renovation and refurbishment, a new phase has now started. The National Monument Oranjehotel will open its doors to the public on 7 September 2019.
Several cells in the middle hallway of the complex, the D-hallway, were used as death cells. People who were sentenced to death spent their last night here. Cell 601, one of the death cells, has been kept in its original condition. The walls show the original inscriptions of the prisoners.
Het Poortje (‘The Little Gate’)
The Little Gate with the green door is located in the long outside wall of the prison. This is where over 250 people saw the dune landscape across from the prison one more time, after commencing their last walk to the Waalsdorpervlakte. After the war, The Little Gate was closed. It is only opened during the yearly memorial service of the Oranjehotel, in order to let in participants. A plaque beside The Little Gate bears the following line by Anthonie Donker: “Remember their last walk through this gate. They gave their lives for freedom and justice. Continue their fight.”
The cell walls were a place where the prisoners could express their fears, their desires, their faith, their humour and their hope. The walls are the silent witnesses of the people who were captured here. The inscriptions in Cell 601 have been preserved.