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National Slavery Monument

On 3 July, 1998, Sophiedela an Afro-European Women’s Movement submitted a petition to the Dutch cabinet. This petition was produced during a conference with the theme of self- reflection entitled “Women and Footprints of Slavery” organised by Sophiedela. In September 1998, it was submitted to the Office of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations.

Political level
The petition started the ball rolling. The question of erecting a monument to commemorate the history of slavery came up for discussion at the political level. Ad Melkert, Parliamentary group leader of the PvdA, suggested that the monument be discussed in the debate concerning the government’s policy statement in August 1998. In addition, in September 1998, Prime minister Wim Kok referred to the possibility of building a monument during the general assembly meeting.

Government Officials oblige

Minister Roger van Boxtel (Minister of Large cities and Integration Policy) had personally taken on the coordination for the projection of the monument on behalf of the cabinet. On 26 May 1999, he sent a letter to the House of Commons, in which he indicated that most involved government officials were open to and supportive of the initiatives to establish a monument for the commemoration of the history of slavery. Moreover, it was suggested in the letter that the cabinet was prepared to start holding conversations with a representative committee, which could lead to a national monument for the commemoration of the history of slavery. The seed for the monument had sprouted.

Initiators united

Meanwhile, the initiators of the movement to create a monument united themselves into the Foundation for the National Monument to Commemorate the History of Dutch Slavery, whereby approximately 18 organisations of Surinamese, Antillean - Aruban and African affiliation joined. Highly respected academics had joined the governing board of the foundation. The Surinamese and Caribbean-Dutch body of the organisation acted as consultants. The Foundation for the National Monument to Commemorate the History of Dutch Slavery became an official partner of the government in the realisation of the monument.


Meanwhile Minister van Boxtel had indicated that he himself was prepared to organise the financing of the memorial. The municipality of Amsterdam declared that it was prepared to host the national monument. Together they formed a covenant between the state and the municipality of Amsterdam, which was signed on 1 July, 2000, the day commemorating the History of Dutch slavery. Also, state secretary Rick van der Ploeg (Ministry of Culture, Education and Science) was closely involved in the production of the memorial.


In consultation with the College of Mayors & Representatives, the local government advisory board of the city of Amsterdam, the National Platform for the History of Slavery (Landelijk Platform Slavernijverleden) and the Committee of Recommendation for the National Monument to Commemorate the History of Slavery, the Oosterpark in Amsterdam was definitively selected as the location for the monument on 14 November, 2000.

Winning design

On the basis of a number of criteria, the outcome of a public opinion poll, the recommendations of the Committee of Recommendation, the Commission of Experts and the opinions/choices of the municipality of Amsterdam and the National Platform for the History of Slavery, the design of Erwin de Vries was chosen to be developed as the National Monument to Commemorate the History of Slavery. Minister van Boxtel (Minister for Large Cities and Integration Policy) made this announcement on 1 July, 2001.


On 1 July, 2002 the National Monument to Commemorate the History of Dutch Slavery was unveiled in the Oosterpark in Amsterdam. 

On 24 juni, 2002, the governing body of the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and its Legacy (NiNsee) was established. The Institute is concerned with research into the history of Dutch slavery and the realisation of an accurate picture of the legacy of Dutch slavery.