Remembrance Day, Dam Square, Amsterdam, Netherlands for Richard

Uploaded 27 Nov 2010 — 41 favorites
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© John Linton
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Photo Info
UploadedNovember 27, 2010
TakenMay 4, 2010
Exposure1/500 sec at f/10
FlashNo Flash
Focal Length96 mm
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Q: Story of the week

A: Do you know?

Photo license: © All rights reserved

4 May 2010

Every year since 1945 the Dutch celebrate the end of Nazi Germany's occupation with Remembrance Day and then Liberation Day. Since we were going to be in Amsterdam on 4 and 5 May I thought we should go down to Dam Square and check out the ceremony that the Queen held. The entire city would observe a two minute moment of silence for all those lost in the war. This meant all public transportation would come to a halt.

We walked to Dam Square (along with 20,000 other people) to take in the Dutch Remembrance Day ceremony and half way into the moment of silence the panic began. An on line Dutch tourist site reported what happened next:

“ — Dozens of people were injured last night when panic broke out in a crowd gathered at Amsterdam’s Dam Square for the national Remembrance Day commemorations.
Police arrested the man who caused the panic.

The man, described by witnesses as ‘confused,’ had at first been mumbling incoherently. One minute into the 2 minutes of silence observed as part of the ceremony he suddenly gave a 5-seconds-long, loud scream.

This caused bystanders to panic and try to push through the crowd, away from the man.
In the process a security fence fell over with a sharp, shot-like sound, creating panic further away in the 20.000-strong crowd.

In the confusion one man inadvertently dropped his briefcase. Someone yelled, “Bomb! Bomb! Escape!” adding to the panic.

Police say 63 people were injured. Injuries included scrapes, bruises and some broken bones.

Last year a man purposely drove his car into the crowd watching the royal motorcade at the Queen’s Day celebrations in Apeldoorn. Police described that incident as an attempted attack on the Royal Family.

During the incident at Dam Square members of the Royal Family were quickly ushered away. They soon returned and the ceremony, which includes the laying of wreaths at the National Monument, continued.

Police superintendent Bernard Welten told the press the arrested man was well known to the police, having been previously arrested for theft, assault, drug trafficking and drug possession.

The man’s identity has not been released, but police reports he is being held in extended custody because in addition to disturbance of public order is also suspected of causing grievous bodily harm by negligence.

The suspect has made no statement. Nothing is known about the motives for his behavior.”

Friends of ours told us months later that they were told by people living in Amsterdam that the "official" story was not true and that the man had actually tried to kill the Queen. Either way, Brenda was terrified and couldn't understand why I was pushing her to the building wall and not down the street with the panicked mob. Just after I took this shot I had moved her from the middle of the crowd to the outer edge so we could get a tram if we didn't want to walk back to the hotel. And so it goes.

Thanks to Carol Holmes for the spotlight.

35 responses

  • Regenia Brabham

    Regenia Brabham gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    It is sad that a day celebrating peace should turn out like that. This is an amazing shot John! Mono is perfect for it.

  • Donald Garrett

    Donald Garrett gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    Regenia is right (she usu. is)

  • Bruce Miller

    Bruce Miller (Deleted) gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    Wow! What a story!!!!! I can't imagine a better entry. Good thinking about the wall and all.

  • Richard Knight

    Richard Knight gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    One would almost think that time had stood still . . . for 65 years. Gritty, authentic, and realistic. (The theme is now closed.) (If "Richard" refers to me, thank you very much, John, for associating me with this outstanding entry!)

  • Kathleen Mercado

    Kathleen Mercado (Deleted) said (27 Nov 2010):

    Totally inspired and interesting. Anxiety coupled with pack mentality, not to mention the undercurrent of tension that would goes along with any public demonstration. A really great piece of photojournalism.

  • Fred Moskey

    Fred Moskey gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    Great shot and story! The world is becoming more like the old U.S.S.R., the first news reported is usually a lie, truth to follow later when it is finally uncovered. As for the celebration it is nice to know that someone still is thankful for being liberated from the terrible opression of WWII. I think we have forgotten it here in the U.S.

  • Susan Littlefield

    Susan Littlefield gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    Theme winner!! I definitely side with Brenda on this one; can't imagine what it must have been like! Amazing presence of mind to even get the shot, John!

  • Carol Holmes

    Carol Holmes gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    I'm speechless...

  • Ioana Caravan

    Ioana Caravan   gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    Amazing photo and story! Excellent for the theme!

  • elfriede fulda

    elfriede fulda (Deleted) gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    What a great entry,,reading your narrative is very sobering and interesting,,I can imagine how Brenda felt !

  • Maria Mutch

    Maria Mutch (Deleted) gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    Outstanding entry, John--amazing texture of the scene-within-a-scene.

  • Jyri Vissak

    Jyri Vissak gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    Cool find! Art is everywhere.

  • Mr Mann

    Mr Mann gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    Great story to accompany a fantastic documentary style photo John. Fantastic work as always. It's a privilage

  • Alexis - Now on Flickr

    Alexis - Now on Flickr gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    Amazing image John, it works on so many levels. The documentary aspect, of course enhanced by your narrative (so glad you both got away unscathed) but also the "picture within picture" aspect, the out-of-focus turmoil of the foreground, the cameras on the left - TV, and point-and-shoot - and the overall framing and tones. Really compelling shot.

  • Debrah Leonard

    Debrah Leonard (Deleted) gave props (27 Nov 2010):

    And, we don't have to ask, "Richard, who?"... an amazing tribute and entry. Excellent, John.

  • dp *

    dp * said (28 Nov 2010):

    Super shot and experience. Thanks for the read and I am glad you, Brenda and friends were not injured. Peace!

  • Jim Ford

    Jim Ford (Deleted) gave props (28 Nov 2010):

    wonderful capture of a moment....great story....all around winning combination!

  • Joy B

    Joy B gave props (28 Nov 2010):


  • Carlo Pagan

    Carlo Pagan gave props (28 Nov 2010):


  • Mark Gilliland

    Mark Gilliland gave props (29 Nov 2010):

    Wow!! Great shot & story!!

  • Leslie Hunziker

    Leslie Hunziker   gave props (29 Nov 2010):

    OMG! What a horrifying experience! WHAT is wrong with people. You're living right on the edge, John!

  • Jason Platt

    Jason Platt gave props (30 Nov 2010):

    so enjoy your writing with the shot..

  • Judy and Wayne Wanamaker

    Judy and Wayne Wanamaker gave props (30 Nov 2010):

    This is a great shot and story, John! I would have been more afraid of being trampled than of the individual who caused the panic. An out of control mob is much more dangerous. You must have a very cool head to have taken the action you did.

  • Anne Worner

    Anne Worner (Deleted) gave props (30 Nov 2010):

    I can see why panic broke out, I can see why you tried to get safe. I can imagine myself in the frame of mind, remembering all the atrocity, the having it intrude on my inner world of though, transforming it to something almost real. The world we live in isn't getting easier, you'd think history would have helped us progress further.

  • Leanna Lomanski

    Leanna Lomanski gave props (30 Nov 2010):

    Amazing entry, story and capture. Mob mentality is frightening indeed.

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (30 Nov 2010):

    Excellent capture and photo journalism, I love your candid writing too, part of real journalism is to be as unbiased as possible, and I think that you have achieved the journalism goal, Bravo!!!!!!!

  • Jean Pierre Vacherot

    Jean Pierre Vacherot (Deleted) gave props (30 Nov 2010):

    Great entry

  • Roxana Brivent-Barnes

    Roxana Brivent-Barnes said (1 Dec 2010):

    Touchy, sensitive narration, and the single shot speaks thousand words, congratulations!

  • Mark Schneiders

    Mark Schneiders said (1 Dec 2010):

    last statement isn't true either!

  • ajtiM

    ajtiM (Deleted) said (1 Dec 2010):

    excellent image!!

  • Maura Wolfson-Foster

    Maura Wolfson-Foster gave props (1 Dec 2010):

    Amsterdam sets you on fire.....great tribute, too ~ !!!

  • Carol Arntsen Masiak

    Carol Arntsen Masiak gave props (2 Dec 2010):

    what an entry!

  • Andrew Lorimer

    Andrew Lorimer (Deleted) gave props (2 Dec 2010):

    Oh so very creative, so well done !!

  • Deborah Downes

    Deborah Downes gave props (4 Dec 2010):

    I totally agree with Alexis. Truly a powerful image. Thankful you and Brenda weren't hurt.

  • Steven Schutz

    Steven Schutz gave props (20 Dec 2010):

    What a story.....what a photograph, and what a great dedication for Richard...what an experience...thanks for sharing.

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