Rotterdam commemorates the bombardment of 1940, with gatherings and wreath-laying, among other things. It is a special day for Rotterdam, because in addition to the commemoration, the city is also preparing for Feyenoord’s possible championship party later today.
The commemoration started this morning at 10 a.m. at Statenweg at number 147, with a speech by Mayor Aboutaleb. The German ultimatum was presented at that address on 14 May 1940. At Plein 1940, two minutes of silence were held at 1:27 p.m. At that time, the bombing began 83 years ago.
Aboutaleb laid a wreath at the monument De Verwoeste Stad. The church bells in the city rang for thirteen minutes, a reminder of the length of the bombardment.
Rotterdam was destroyed exactly 83 years ago by German bombers. Within fifteen minutes, almost the entire city center was destroyed. Nearly 900 people died and 80,000 Rotterdammers became homeless. One of them is the now 100-year-old Han Thans. In May 1940 he lived with his mother, sister and brother in the Taborstraat in Kralingen. The memory of the bombing is still vivid.
“We could already hear the German bombers coming in the distance. When those bombs were dropped, you heard such a screeching sound. When that passed, you knew you weren’t hit yourself. But when that screeching sound stopped, it went immediately set off the bomb,” he tells Rijnmond.
It is a miracle that the family survived the bombing. “So our house was hit by a bomb. The windows shattered and we grabbed our bag. We had it ready for emergencies. We fled down the stairs. Fortunately it was a bit to the side, not at the exit, so “We could still reach the exit via the stairs. There was panic, of course. And fire. Houses were on fire, so everyone had to flee down the street.”
Two days later he went back to Taborstraat. “There was one wall still standing with an iron railing on it. That was all that was left.”
In 2017 Feyenoord also became champion on the memorial day of the bombing. That day Thans was in De Kuip. Today the 100-year-old was in the Laurenskerk where he shared his memories.
The club will become national champion if the team from Rotterdam beat Go Ahead Eagles. The match will now be followed on TV. The journey to De Kuip is now too much for him.
Han Thans thinks it is important that the bombing is commemorated, but also thinks it is right that a party is celebrated on that day if Feyenoord becomes champion.
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