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Visiting the Kenaupark, Haarlem, The Netherlands: remembering spirited and patriotic Dutch women in a peaceful setting

Updated on January 3, 2013
Flag of The Netherlands
Flag of The Netherlands | Source
Kenaupark, in Haarlem, The Netherlands
Kenaupark, in Haarlem, The Netherlands | Source
Kenau Hasselaer during the Siege of Haarlem
Kenau Hasselaer during the Siege of Haarlem | Source
Jan David Zocher
Jan David Zocher | Source
Map location of Haarlem, and district
Map location of Haarlem, and district | Source

Subtext: invaders were not popular

The patriotic Dutch women remembered at the Kenaupark, Haarlem are not well known outside of The Netherlands. But within the country, they are recalled as patriots, who participated in resisting aggressors, in the 16th and 20th century respectively.

The Park is named for Kenau Hasselaer, (1526-1588/89), who led other women in defence of Haarlem during the siege of that city in 1572-72, against Spanish forces. Since the 16th century, Kenau (1), as she is sometimes simply referred to, has often been the subject of patriotic Dutch paintings and drawings.

In the Park also is a monument by Truus Menger-Overstegen unveiled by Princess Juliana of The Netherlands in 1982, commemorating Hannie Schaft (1920-1945), a partisan executed not long before the departure of Nazi German forces at the end of World War Two. It is recorded that the brutish and inefficient killers in charge of her firing squad failed even to render her unconscious with their first volley, and Hannie Schaft memorably cried: 'I can shoot better'(2).

The Park is thus a peaceful setting in which Dutch people may remember these spirited and patriotic Dutch women.

Responsible for the Kenaupark was Jan David Zocher Jr. (1791-1870)(3), a prominent architect and landscape architect. In the laying out of the Park, part of the bulwarks of the city's former defences were chosen.

A number of buildings bordering the Park have been classified as national monuments. Formerly residential properties, many of them have been converted to office use.

Close to the Kenaupark is the Nieuwe Gracht, a canal which passes near the centre of the city.

Haarlem is situated in the North Holland (Dutch: Noord-Holland) province of The Netherlands.

January 4, 2013


(1) Her full name was Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer; the Simon in question being her father, Simon Gerritszoon Brouwer, mayor of Haarlem.

(2) Hannie Schaft was a communist partisan, and after World War Two, in 1951, when some of her fellow travellers tried to commemorate her at another venue, the Dutch government took measures, with soldiers and tanks, to stop them. This, despite the fact that members of the royal family had already participated in public commemoration of Hannie Schaft. Eventually, the Kenaupark was chosen as a venue for those who wished to commemorate Hannie Schaft to be able to do so in peace; and in 1982, the presence of Princess Juliana at the unveiling of her memorial put an official seal on commemorations of her, as of someone who was 'all right after all'...

(For copyright reasons, I have been unable to supply a picture of Hannie Schaft.)

(3) Other works by Architect Zocher include the lighthouse at Egmond aan Zee, and the a former Amsterdam Stock Market (Dutch: Beurs) building.

Also worth seeing

In Haarlem itself, visitor attractions include: The Bavokerk, with its massive tower; the Town Hall (Dutch: Stadhuis); the Frans Hals Museum; the Medieval gate known as the Amsterdamse Poort; and many others.

Amsterdam (distance: 19 kilometres); among the visitor attractions are the Dam with the Royal Palace, the Nieuwe Kerk and the National Memorial; the Munttoren ; Anne Frank's House, and many others.


How to get there: Airlines flying to Amsterdam-Schipol Airport from New York include Delta Airlines and KLM. The Dutch railroad company NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) maintains rail services between Amsterdam-Schipol and Haarlem . There is car rental availability at Amsterdam airport. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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