Waalsdorpervlakte is an area in the Meijendel dunes near Scheveningen where over 250 members of the Dutch resistance were executed during the Second World War. Located a short distance from the Oranjehotel prison in Scheveningen, this site was used by the Germans for firing squad executions. Nowadays, Waalsdorpervlakte is one of the most important Dutch memorials of the war. Erepeloton Waalsdorp commemorates the victims during Remembrance Day, which is held each year on 4th May. There is a silent march past the monument, flowers and wreaths are laid and the Bourdon Bell is sounded.
Waalsdorpervlakte in The Hague was originally used as a site for military exercises. During the Second World War the Germans used this site for firing squad executions. Resistance fighters from the nearby prison in Scheveningen, known by locals as Oranjehotel, were shot here. It is estimated that during 1940 and 1945 some 250 to 280 people were executed at Waalsdorpervlakte. After the war collaborators were executed here, including NSB leader Anton Mussert. In 1946, a number of resistance fighters spontaneously initiated a remembrance day ceremony at Waalsdorpervlakte to commemorate the atrocities that took place during the war years. At the end of the 1940s and 1950s monuments were erected on the site. Since that time, Waalsdorpervlakte has been the site at which the annual Remembrance takes place to remember those that served their lives.
The Waalsdorpervlakte monument is formed on one side by a simple concrete band bearing the text "1940–1945". Behind it are four firing squad crosses that old resistance members put up in 1946 and that were replaced in 1980 by the current bronze replicas. The other part of the monument consists of the impressive Bourdon Bell that was erected in 1959. Since that time, the Bourdon Bell has formed an important part of the Remembrance Day.
Each year a silent march takes place across Waalsdorpervlakte during Remembrance Day on 4th May. The procession forms around 19:20 from the direction of Oude Waalsdorperweg. The front section is reserved for the relatives of executed resistance fighters and for guests. The other participants follow on behind. The Bourdon Bell is sounded until just before 20:00 at Waalsdorpervlakte. The signal is followed by two minutes of silence. It is followed by the Dutch national anthem. The participants of the silent march then walk past the monument and can lay down flowers and wreaths. The Bourdon Bell is sounded again, until the last participant has passed the monument at around 22:00. Each year, approximately 3,000 people participate in the silent march on 4th May.
'Oranjehotel' was the popular name for a part of the Scheveningen prison in Scheveningen in The Hague, in use by the Germans during the Second World War. Between 1940 and 1945, about 25.000 resistance fighters and other Dutch people who resisted the German occupation were imprisoned here. After the German judges would come to a conviction, the prisoners were either liberated, sent to German concentration camps or executed at the nearby Waalsdorpervlakte. In honour of all those imprisoned people, special monuments were created in the Oranjehotel, like 'Death Cell 601'. This death cell has been kept in its original state and can be visited on each last Wednesday of the month.
Waalsdorpervlakte is part of the largest interconnected dune area in South Holland, Meijendel. The beautiful nature reserve extends between Scheveningen, The Hague and Wassenaar, and consists primarily of open dune landscape, lakes, forests and kilometres of long sandy beaches. The numerous cycle, hiking and riding paths make the dunes at Meijendel the perfect place to enjoy the nature of the Netherlands just a stone's throw away from the city.
Directions to Waalsdorpervlakte
Waalsdorpervlakte is located in the dunes between The Hague and Wassenaar. During Remembrance Day the area is only accessible via Oude Waalsdorperweg. All paths from Meijendel dunes and other directions are closed.
Due to traffic during the Remembrance Day service, it is advisable to travel by public transport. From Central Station Den Haag bus 22 (towards Duinzigt) takes 20 minutes to get to Waalsdorperweg. The walk to Oude Waalsdorperweg from the bus stop is approximately 5 - 10 minutes. It is also possible to take bus line 23 towards Duindorp from Station Den Haag Laan van Nieuw Oost-Indië and Station Voorburg. Get off at Ziekenhuis Bronovo stop and then walk towards Waalsdorpervlakte.
Drivers should head towards the Landscheidingsweg / Oude Waalsdorperweg crossroads and can leave their vehicles in the neighbouring residential area. From there, the walk to the monument at Waalsdorpervlakte is approximately 15 minutes.