Dutch Auschwitz survivor blasts Pegida racists


This video shows a mass meeting in Amsterdam in the Netherlands against the extreme right refugee-hating Pegida organisation, on Saturday 6 February 2016.

Max van den Berg is a Dutch Jewish survivor of Adolf Hitler‘s mass murder camp Auschwitz. After the second world war, he helped to found the Dutch Auschwitz committee for commemoration.

Here is a translation from the speech by Max van den Berg on that Saturday 6 February 2016, at the statue De Dokwerker, commemorating the general strike in February 1941 against the German nazi occupiers’ anti-Jewish violence in the Netherlands. Max van den Berg was then fourteen years old. He participated in the general strike at his school: school students struck along with the workers.

This video shows Max van Den Berg’s 6 February speech.

Mr Van den Berg addressed the 6 February 2016 mass meeting against the extreme right refugee-hating Pegida organisation:

Max van den Berg spoke on the demonstration on February 6: Refugees are welcome, racism is not!

Here, along the wall of the Portuguese synagogue was then a row of German trucks. That was on Sunday, February 23, 1941. One hundred meters further on the Waterlooplein square Jews were herded with clubs and rifle butts. When there were more than 400 they were driven into the trucks and taken away. All were murdered in the concentration camp Mauthausen.

On Monday 24 February, the communist party gathered at the Noordermarkt [Northern Market] to spread the watchword: Strike! Strike! Strike!

75 years ago the February strike broke out. The city was in solidarity with their persecuted Jewish fellow citizens and revolted against racist violence. The commemoration of this strike is more relevant than ever.

Again in the city there is solidarity with those who flee war and violence. Again, the city resists, now against racist hate mongers of Pegida. In Amsterdam there is no place for these people.

How did this war and refugee misery arise? Then we must go back in history. On February 4, 2003 at 16.30 Colin Powell, an American government minister, appeared at the UN, and displayed photos that supposedly proved conclusively that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. There had to be intervention quickly. A war based on a lie started. Later complemented by a Syrian civil war and the whole Middle East becoming ablaze.

Men, women and children fleeing the war which has lasted for 13 years. A fight with front fighting, guerrillas, attacks, terrorist attacks, hunger, phosphorus grenades and poison gas bombs. A fight that ended in a civil war. Nothing is more traumatic than a civil war. Village and neighborhood communities are torn apart and family ties torn asunder. Millions leave the battlefield hoping for a safe place in Europa. They fled by sea, more than 3,000 men, women and children drowned. They fled across the muddy paths of the Balkans during heat and during icy cold. They went to the Arctic Circle hoping to reach Sweden and Norway. Along the way there are now 10,000 children without parents who became lost and are wandering in groups across our continent. Easy prey for pickpocket gangs and prostitution.

Meanwhile, forty thousand refugees have found housing in our country. They were traumatized, and housed in large centers. …

Citizens wonder whether those refugees do not exceed the carrying capacity of society. [European Union authorities in] Brussels also question whether European society can support this financially. But that is a travesty, hypocritical. The same Brussels people refuse to tackle the tax dodging by big corporations, so that society is missing out on an amount of 80 billion euros.

Citizens have questions about unemployment, now there are refugees. But at the same time, the government’s statistics office states that the economy is picking up and may result in a shortage of workers in white-collar jobs and construction early next year. We may start to ask ourselves then whether too little refugees have come.

And then came Cologne and sexual violence and the so-called “testosterone bombs“. But then I think of the [murdered] girl Vaatstra, the Putten murder, about the Utrecht serial rapist [all crimes by non-refugee white Dutchmen], the massive child abuse within the Catholic Church and I think for just once: Our own people first [extreme right nationalist slogan, turned upside down here]. It is dirty to misguide worried citizens with hate speech.

Nothing is more dangerous than to mistake concerned citizens for racists. The hate mongers of Pegida would like that. We won’t be tricked by that.

And now the reception of refugees should be made a success. Refugees have to go from large centers to smaller more intimate and better shelters scattered across the cities and the country. Now there should be more government workers, making it possible to shorten the asylum procedure from seven months to a maximum of seven weeks.

Now there should be warm humanistic support in the areas of food, education and leisure. In this context we want to pay tribute to the thousands of workers, including many Dutch men and women with a Turkish or Moroccan background, who are doing that.

Some governments and politicians want to stop the flow of refugees. They want to close all borders. Europe should be made into a fortress with as its slogan: Me, me, me, and let all others die. Others want to take away the refugees’ money and jewelry (they can keep only their wedding rings! Aren’t those politicians ‘humane’, right?). Still others have developed illegal plans. Send them back to dictatorial Turkey, a country which itself bombs Kurds from the air. Creating a wave of Kurdish refugees.

No, there is no end to the flow of refugees as long as the war continues. 58,000 in January have braved the wintry chill and yet moved into Europe.

But there is a perspective. Through trial and error the first peace negotiations began and there is a chance to let the war end with joint forces. But just as these negotiations begin the Dutch parliament threatens to approve Dutch bombing in Syria (‘precision’ bombing – ridiculous). The English foundation Body Count and the BBC have calculated together that only because of the US bombing, apart from Russian and Syrian bombing, 1051 civilians have lost their lives. Collateral damage this is called and a little bag of dollars is ready, wrapped in a cloth of hypocritical ‘philanthropy’. But this breeds new hatred and terrorism. There are in the [ISIS] ‘caliphate’ no more military targets, say the experts. Dutch bombs may turn a desert into a Swiss cheese. That’s all.

We therefore call on parliament: no bombing in Syria! Stop arms exports to conflict areas! No drones dropping bombs but a blow against hate speech!

Dear people. Let us be aware of the serious political and moral crisis in which Europe finds itself. The contradictions are increasing, democratic freedoms are under pressure. Everyone has an interest in ending the protracted war with its destruction and waves of refugees.

Join the fight for the restoration of peace. Join the newly founded Amsterdam Peace Initiative.

Fight the racists of Pegida.

Long live solidarity with the war refugees.

Long live the people rescuing refugees!

Long live the struggle for peace!

This video shows another 6 February 2016 speaker, Anousha Nzume.

Refugee crisis: Angela Merkel appeals to Turkey for border controls to stop fresh wave of Syrian refugees: here.

Demonstration for peace in Turkey, Amsterdam, tomorrow


This video says about itself:

Alarm sounded over Kurdish civilian casualties in operation Turkey says is targeting militants

22 December 2015

Kurdish groups are sounding the alarm over rising civilian casualties as the Turkish army intensifies a large-scale operation it says is targeting militants in the country’s southeast.

Tanks have been filmed pounding positions in the town of Cizre, where residents have been under a curfew for weeks and where basic supplies are running low.

Tens of thousands have fled their homes in numerous locations where the operation is taking place.

Recently, the Erdogan government in Turkey ordered the Turkish armed forces to commit violence against Kurdish and other civilians. Violence in Iraq. Violence in Syria. And violence within the borders of Turkey itself.

Kurdish organisations in the Netherlands call on people to participate in a demonstration in Amsterdam to stop that violence and to have peace.

The demonstration starts at noon 12 o’clock on 26 December 2015, at the Beursplein square, and finishes on the Museumplein square.

The slogans of the demonstration are (translated):

Let us unite for peace and democracy in Kurdistan and Turkey!

Give peace a chance!

Kurds have a right to self-government!

Refugees thank Amsterdam city


In this video, refugees thank Amsterdam city for helping.

NOS TV in the Netherlands writes about this today (translated):

In movies which will be broadcast during the coming weeks on [Amsterdam local TV] AT5, refugees thank Amsterdam for the hospitality shown. The refugees thank, each in their own language, the local council and the Amsterdam people for the reception and assistance.

The commercials were made by three organizations involved in the relief effort: HVO-Querido, the Salvation Army and the Rainbow Group.

According to the organizations Amsterdam people show every day that they are involved in the cause of the refugees. They bring clothes or toys, do volunteer work and activities are organized to welcome the refugees.

SUSAN SARANDON: SEARCHING FOR REFUGEES “Babies are passed into volunteers arms, wet shoes and socks removed, blankets distributed. There are tears of relief. These boats arrived safely. With inexperienced drivers, chosen randomly at the helm, this is not always the case.” [HuffPost]

Amsterdam zoo helps threatened Polynesian snails


Two Polynesian tree snails, photo by Artis, Ronald van Weeren

Translated from Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad today:

Artis [zoo in Amsterdam] is committed to preserve endangered Polynesian tree snails. Amsterdam’s zoo is breeding snails in their Insectarium. After the breeding they will go back to their natural habitat on the island group in the Pacific.

Things go badly for the native snails in French Polynesia, of which Tahiti is the most famous island. The arrival of a carnivorous snail species made certain species of tree snails extinct, while those are important for the biodiversity of the tropical islands. In the Insectarium of Artis are 687 tree snails of three Tahitian species.

Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam attracts many visitors


This video says about itself:

Exhibition Munch : Van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum

21 September 2015

Discover the parallels between two iconic artists: Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch. Admire the many masterpieces from all over the world, including ‘The scream’ by Munch and ‘Starry night over the Rhone‘ by Van Gogh in one spectacular exhibition.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Record year for Van Gogh Museum

Today, 10:44

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam last year attracted a record number of visitors. About 1.9 million people went to the museum. That’s an increase of 18 percent compared to last year, when more than 1.6 million people visited the museum.

The museum explains the record number of visitors by the opening of the new glass entrance and the exhibition Munch: Van Gogh.

Duke Ellington’s jazz and classical music in Amsterdam church


This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

When Amsterdam expanded in western direction in the beginning of the 17th century, new churches were needed. One of these new churches was the Westerkerk (The Western church), built between 1620-1638. The initial designer of the Westerkerk was Hendrick de Keyser, whose son Pieter took over after his father died in 1621.

On 15 November 2015, there was a concert in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam. This church is not far from the Anne Frank House. Anne Frank could see the church’s tower from her window in the secret annexe during World War II.

The big church was full of people for the concert. There ware many people on stage as well. The Nationaal Symfonisch Kamerorkest this time, besides their usual classical music instruments, had jazz instruments like drums and saxophones as well.

There was also a big choir. Really, a merger for this concert of two Amsterdam choirs: GrootNoord, from the north of the city. And Singi Nanga Firi, a Surinamese name for a multicultural Christian choir.

Westerkerk concert flyer

The music was by Michael Tippett, a British classical composer, inspired by African American music in the ‘Five Negro Spirituals’ in his work A Child Of Our Time. After Tippett came the Sacred Concert, by famous United States jazz musician Duke Ellington, with classical music influences as well. This was the first time ever for Ellington‘s Sacred Concert in the Netherlands, as one needs many people to perform it. Tippett’s Spirituals had been performed only rarely in the Netherlands.

This music video, recorded in Hong Kong in 2007, is called Michael Tippett: Go Down, Moses.

The five spirituals, performed in Amsterdam, were: Steal away to Jesus; Nobody knows the trouble; Go down, Moses; By and by; and Deep river.

While they are Christian religious songs, based on the Bible, there is an undertone of the struggle for freedom in African American history, against slavery and discrimination. Eg, in parallels with the Bible story of ancient Israelites escaping from slavery in Egypt, led by Moses.

This undertone of secular opposition to oppression within religious music is also present in Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts. They frequently have the word ‘freedom’, sometimes in many languages. The Christian right in the USA did not like that, claiming that Ellington had ‘polluted’ religion with jazz.

This music video, recorded on 17 March 2013 in San Marino, is called Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts (Full Concert).

Duke Ellington wrote three Sacred Concerts. In 1993, a compilation of these three was arranged by John Hoybye and Peder Pedersen. The Amsterdam performance was based on that compilation.

There was much applause after the music stopped.

Wigeon and tufted ducks


This video is called WigeonsAnas penelope.

Today, 25 October 2015, to Waterland, the region just north of Amsterdam city (partially part of Amsterdam local authority).

Near a ship close to the Schellingwoude bridge, about a dozen tufted ducks resting in the water.

As the walked along the IJsselmeer dike to Durgerdam, starlings sitting on top of masts of yachts.

Between Durgerdam and Ransdorp, about a hundred wigeons in a ditch and on its banks.

From the hide: grey lag geese, grey heron.

Just before Ransdorp: a great egret flying.

Back to Schellingwoude. A male gadwall duck swimming in
a canal.

Mute swans in a ditch.

A flock of Egyptian geese in a meadow.

A great crested grebe swimming.