Over 25,000 people were imprisoned in the Oranjehotel during the Second World War. They were extremely diverse. People from all different layers of society were kept in the cells: soldiers, students, labourers, politicians, members of the clergy, women, and even children. They came from all over the country.
A majority had been arrested due to resistance activities. Among them were well-known people, but also countless others who had been arrested due to involvement with an organised form of resistance, due to symbolic resistance, or due to civil disobedience. Aside from this, the Polizeigefängnis was a place of transit for prisoners who had been arrested on grounds of their ethnicity, worldview or sexual orientation. People who would qualify as criminals during normal times were also locked up here. During the occupation, their violations got political implications. These people included thieves, illegal slaughterers or black market tradesmen who violated the distribution system.
Who was detained here?
There is no complete register of all the prisoners. The Germans destroyed their administration at the end of the war. Two historical sources contain the names of several of the prisoners: the Memorial Book of the Oranjehotel, and the Death Books. Both emerged in the first years following the Second World War, and are far from complete. Meanwhile, the National Monument Oranjehotel is building a digital name monument, which will collect as many names as possible by linking to existing data from other sources.
Memorial Book of the Oranjehotel
After the war, Mr. E.P. Weber, commander of the Scheveningen prison since May 1945, collected as much information as possible about the prisoners. He placed a notice in newspapers, calling for former prisoners to write down their experiences. These stories formed the basis of the Memorial Book. He also recorded part of the inscriptions on the prison walls. The first print of the Memorial Book appeared in 1946. An important and extensive second print appeared in 1947 and was reprinted in 1982. You can take a look at the list of names in the document at the bottom of this page.
The Death Books
The Death Books comprise four collections of photographs and life descriptions of 734 resistance fighters who died during or after their imprisonment in the Oranjehotel. Essentially, they form a fourth monument alongside Cell 601, The Little Gate and the Memorial Plaque. They were assembled shortly after the war. Though the information is far from complete, the books offer an impressive commemoration to the victims. You can look at the Death Books online in the National Archive, via www.gahetna.nl. One book will be on view at the Memorial Centre.
The prisoners who were executed by firing squad on the Waalsdorpervlakte have also been named on the lists of victims from the Association Erepeloton Waalsdorp.
'De Achttien Dooden' (‘The Eighteen Deaths’)
Eighteen special names are named in the poem ‘De Achttien Doden’ by Jan Campert (1902-1943). On 13 March 1941, fifteen members of the ‘Geuzen’ resistance group, and three people who had participated in the February Strikes, were executed by firing squad on the Waalsdorpervlakte after spending one last night in the death cells.