Rotterdam in conversation about apologies for slavery history | NOW

The council of mayor and aldermen of Rotterdam is in talks to see whether apologies should be made for the city’s slavery past. How these apologies should be made and whether this should be done together with Amsterdam or the national government are some of the questions the Commission would like to discuss in the near future.

“The college realizes that society needs quick answers. But if apologies are made, then this must be fully realized and the words must have weight and conscious consequences,” said a letter to the city council. In the coming period, the city council wants to reflect on the possible meaning, conditions and consequences.

For example, the council wonders whether the apologies then apply “on behalf of the council, the city council including the council, for the municipality or for all Rotterdammers?” It wants to be advised by scientists and legal scholars.

For a few months now, the city council has also been in talks with Amsterdam and the government. The approach is that the city would like a national investigation into the Dutch slavery past “because it was not only a problem in the cities”.

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb previously called for national apologies, but so far the cabinet has only shown “deep regret and remorse”.

Rotterdam ‘up to your ears’ in slavery

The question of whether Rotterdam should apologize follows a number of investigations into the city’s slavery past. For example, the Royal Institute for Language, Agriculture and Ethnology (KITLV) concluded that Rotterdam was “head over heels in slavery”. In the city, for example, 181 street names refer to that time.

One of the measures that the council is taking is to place a clearly visible explanation of colonial street names and statues in the city. The mayor and aldermen also want the colonial past to be given a prominent place in education about Rotterdam’s history.


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