Short description of this website

In May 1944 the resistance in Sliedrecht killed 2 Dutch NSB people (national socialistic confederation). The Germans went crazy and to stop the Dutch they took over 500 young boys from Sliedrecht, Hardinxveld-Giessendam, Werkendam and 'The Biesbosch', aged 18 until 25 years, as a hostage.

These boys (so-called Merwedegijzelaars) were transported to Camp Amersfoort and were imprisoned overthere. Due to the need of labourers in Germany, the boys were send to Germany on the 7th of July 1944. They were imprisoned in Arbeits Erziehungs Lager, (Education through Work) Working 12 hours a day, very bad hygienic circumstances, little food, very bad guardians who beat them (sometime till death followed), etc. etc.

At the end of the war over 26 of the boys had not survived, two of them died later in 1945. As a tribute to those 28 and all of the hostages, I have build this website.

Anja van der Starre, daughter of Merwedegijzelaar Bas van der Starre


Description of the monument that has been unveiled at oct. 3rd 2020

The Basis 

A statue of a young man in work clothes from the 1940s, this young man will be placed at each of the three locations. It's the same man, but in different poses. In three steps he looks from over his right shoulder, forward; his fist from clenched to half open then open. The statue is placed on a pedestal, next to it there are two empty pedestals. The statue is on a different pedestal at each location. The statue is not whole, only the right half is visible so you are looking into it. The inside is shiny bronze. The choice of clothing is that of the 1940s because I want to bridge the boundaries of time so that it is a contemporary monument.


The monument is about loss and change; and about the past, present and future. The empty pedestals symbolize the men who have not returned. The number is a reference to the locations.

The cutaway figure represents the loss and change the men have undergone. It also indicates vulnerability, standing on one leg with the inside unprotected. This shiny interior of the statue represents the innocence of the men who have been arrested. The fist and the open hand represent the emotion; anger, misunderstanding, resignation, acceptance and acceptance.

The viewing direction of the statue represents the past, present and future. What happened back then still has an influence on a large group of people today and will continue to influence those in the future.

The three statues together form one whole, but will never be that because they are physically separate. What happened then can never be undone.

The symbolism not only refers to the men who were deported, but also to their next of kin. The unresolved past of the father who inadvertently damaged the child. The questions that remain unanswered or the question why father was arrested then.

With the monument I hope that there is a place to commemorate, to give a place to mourn. That there is acknowledgment, but also recognition. That this past becomes tangible for a larger group of people.

Besides the sadness I also want to give hope with the monument. The figure is fragile but is still standing and also radiates strength. The visible interior is shiny and will give off a warm glow in the sunlight.

The man’s posture is a reference to the statue "The stone man" that stands in Camp Amersfoort.

The sculptures and pedestals are designed to fit into your personal space. Big enough to respectfully admire from a distance yet small enough to stand close to and touch it. The pedestals are high enough to stand out, but not too high to make the image inaccessible. With this I want to make the monument personal and intimate.

Through these monuments made of durable materials that can withstand time and our memory, I want to tell the story of the Merwede hostages across generations.


I wanted to personally involve the relatives with the monument by means of text fragments on the pedestals. The words they have chosen are: fear, innocence, struggle, sadness, recognition and compassion.

Richard van der Koppel, artist