A WWII monument called ‘De Borg’ (The Bow) sits next to the water in Rotterdam to honor all sailors who lost their lives during the war…
Have you seen and wondered about what appears to be a monument to sailors that sits next to the river in Rotterdam not far from the Erasmus Bridge? Here is the background story on that Dutch World War II memorial called ‘De Boeg‘ (The Bow)…
The impetus for this monument dates back to 1947, just two years after WWII ended, and was initiated by members of the Rotterdam maritime industry who proposed it to the Dutch national monuments commission for war memorials. A design contest was held for this memorial which would remember all the merchant marines from Dutch and Allied forces who lost their lives during the war. The location for the monument, which was to be visible from both the water and the Coolsingel, was chosen in 1949.
In the autumn of 1952, after much public debate and conflict of opinion between the key parties involved, which included the Merchant Marine National Monument Foundation, the Princess Margriet Fund and the Nederlandse Redersvereniging, the foundation’s executive board announced the winning design as that of Frederico Carasso called ‘De Boeg‘. The 45-meter high monument depicts the bow of a ship (sculpted grey aluminum plates) cutting through waves (brown stone).
Over the course of the following year, the foundation’s original concern about a lack of content in the design, was resolved in consultation with the designer and the building committee. They decided a bronze sculpture of sailors would be added at the base to express the human element, remembering loss, facing current challenge and looking to a brighter future.
The monument as was originally designed was unveiled by Princess Margriet in 1957. Written on the base are the words ‘Zij hielden koers‘ (they stayed the course).
The sculpture of sailors to be placed at the base of ‘De Boeg‘, the Dutch national merchant marine monument in Rotterdam, was not installed until the summer of 1965. This was primarily due to disagreements between the artist and the foundation about the design of the sculpture.
The bronze element, shown in the picture at left, includes five figures – a helmsman, 3 sailors and a drowned figure (on the opposite of the sculpture, which cannot be seen in this photo).
The sailors are looking downward into the water below. They are all joined by a nautical rope.