Story By: Delano Langras, Sub Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency: Newsflash
A former classmate of diary writer Anne Frank who was murdered by the Nazis has laid one of the first stones in the new Namur Holocaust Memorial in Amsterdam.
Jacqueline van Maarsen, 91, laid the brick in an emotional ceremony at Weesperstraat, Amsterdam, on Wednesday, 23rd September.
Mrs van Maarsen wrote a book called ‘Your Best Friend Anne’. She only found out what had happened to Anne after the war. Anne’s father showed her two farewell letters. Anne wrote: “I hope that until we see each other again, we will always be best friends.” She also signed the first letter: “Your Best Friend Anne”, hence the title of Maarsen’s book.
Another 102,000 bricks will be laid in the coming year, each bearing the name of a Dutch, Roma, or Sinti victim of the Holocaust.
The EUR 15 million (GBP 13.7 million) finished monument that was designed by Daniel Liebeskind will be 250 metres (820 feet) long when it is completed in October 2021.
The design will form a labyrinth of corridors showing with names, date of birth and age of the victims, many of whom have no grave.
The first brick was dedicated to 20-year-old Dina Frankenhuis from the nearby Tweede Boerhaavestraat, Amsterdam, who died at Sobibor in 1943 during the Holocaust. The brick was engraved with her name.
Mrs van Maarsen was the biggest donator to the project, giving them EUR 50,000 (GBP 45,708) that she got from auctioning an original poem written by Anne Frank in 1942 to her sister just months before the Franks went into hiding.
Mrs van Maarsen said: “Anne would have loved it. But she had to die for it first.
“I am glad that the time has finally come. It all took a very long time”
The ceremony was also attended by 14 Holocaust survivors.
Sinto survivor, Zoni Weisz, 83, said: “My sisters, brothers and aunts are gone. Soon I will be able to touch their names. We will never forget them. ”
The Namur Monument has taken 14 years to be approved after local residents voiced strong objections to its size and complained that it would bring in crowds.
The objections were quashed by the Council of state at the end of 2019.
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