Rotterdam is the city where I attended university in the 1980s. My town of birth Vlaardingen is one of Rotterdam's suburbs and as a child I visited the city - also known as the largest seaport in the world - on a regular basis.
When the Nazis invaded Holland in May 1940 the Dutch forces were no match for Hitler's war machine, however a brave battle raged for four days. The Germans demanded a Dutch capitulation which was rejected and in order to put their demand across more forcefully, the Germans bombed Rotterdam. It caused massive loss of life and huge damage and resulted in the defeat of the Dutch troops, starting a nightmare that lasted until May 1945. The heart was ripped out of the city and even in the 1980s the emptiness of a city without a historic heart was palpable. That is captured in the Zadkine's monument above, a photo that I took from the wrong angle as it does not show that the screaming man has in fact no heart, but a gaping hole. You will find this moving piece of remembrance right in Rotterdam's city center.
As students we learned the song 'Het Dijklied' or the 'Song of the Dyke' which refers to the deep sadness the songwriter feels as he wanders around the area that was once the thriving heart of Rotterdam's nightlife. Here you have the first part of the song in Dutch and translated in English. I hope it conveys the power and gut wrenching emotion it generates when you read, hear or sing it:
Vol van weemoed dwaal ik langs de straten
The song writer was Heinz Polzer also known as Drs. P. a former member of my student society. Although graduated as a master in economics, he went on to become a well known artist and performer and is still alive and kicking as I write this at age 94.
Just a random selection of some of my favourite photos.