The Destroyed City

See the memorial that remembers the bombing of Rotterdam's historic heart during WW2.

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During the 2nd World War the Nazi’s wanted to use the Netherlands as an air and naval base for the planned battle for Britain. Therefore they attacked the Netherlands in the early hours of 10 May 1940. The plan was to take over the Netherlands swiftly but the Dutch slowed down the Nazi invasion successfully. Dutch forces were holding the North bank of Rotterdam and prevented them from crossing the river Maas.

Historic heart destroyed

Htiler wanted a rapid fall of the resistance and threatened the Dutch to destroy Rotterdam. When the Dutch wanted to stretch out negotiations bomber formations were sent out to attack the city. The Dutch had no effective means of stopping the bombers and 1150 pieces of 50kg bombs and 158 of 250kg were dropped at the city centre of Rotterdam. The bombs destroyed almost 25,000 homes, 2,500 stores, 775 warehouses, 65 schools and 25 churches. Approximately 900 people were killed by the bombs and around 2.6 square kilometers of Rotterdam was almost leveled. The historic heart of Rotterdam was devastated!
Very few buildings survived the bombs and that’s why you see so much modern in Rotterdam today. The oldest buildings in Rotterdam centre that survived the bombs are the city hall and the St Laurenskerk Church.

Man without a heart

When the Russian-born artist Ossip Zadkine travelled after world war 2 from Paris to Rotterdam by train, he saw the destroyed heart of Rotterdam. This inspired him to create the bronze sculpture €œThe Destroyed City€ (or De Verwoeste Stad in Dutch). The 6.5 meters high sculpture was unveiled at May 15, 1953 and put in the city center of Rotterdam. The scupture represents a man without a heart and symbolizes Rotterdam without its historic heart after the 2nd world war. While most citizens in Rotterdam are proud of their city and the new heart with the modern architecture, the older people still mourn the loss of the historic heart. The sculpture created by Zadkine remembers all of them of Rotterdam before World War 2.
The sculpture of Zadkine is a must-see if you want to understand why Rotterdam looks as it looks today!