If you have read my published book, “Too Close to the Sun” a Dutch boy becomes a man during WWII, then you’ll know the significance of this building.
It is the Peace Palace in Scheveningen.
The story in the book is thus: at the beginning of WWII, when Germany had invaded Holland, there was a convoy of German soldiers in trucks, singing and drinking beer in front of the Peace Palace.
Wim and his buddy Jilles sneaked up to the trucks and let air out of all the truck tires, while Bertus kept watch.
After the truck was immobilized, the boys ran like hell, laughing until they fell on the grass. They were spent. It was fun, until…
Each boy walked back to his house, silently, thinking about what could have happened had they been caught.
Imagine being a teenager of 15 and 16, when most boys were out having a good time, they were seriously involved with thwarting Hitler’s progress. The truck tire sabotage was a dangerous activity, but just the beginning of the boys’ work during the war and the hunger winter.
The Peace Palace – I just love the name of it – was a dream and a generous gift of American industrial magnate Andrew Carnegie. It was created by French architect Louis Cordonnier as a “dream palace for world peace’.
I stood in front of the massive structure that is a symbol of the ideals of peace and justice.
The building that is over one hundred years old, houses the International Court of Justice and the Court of Arbitration.
I remember hearing the story of Wim and his two friends when I lived in Holland in 1999. We road on tram number one past the palace, just as I did today. Except today, I got off the tram and took a photo of the palace.
On another trip to the Peace Palace Wim and I were allowed to go inside. That has changed now,
and is allowed only at during special public forums.
After getting off to see the Peace Palace, I got back on number one again and headed to the main train station, where I purchased a ticket to Amsterdam, for tomorrow.
It was a good day.