A report from the NL Times.
The ambassador of Suriname, Rajendre Khargi, unveiled a memorial stone for the Paramaribo-born writer, activist and World War II resistance member Anton de Kom during a ceremony in De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. He was joined by De Kom’s daughter, Legal Protection Minister Franc Weerwind, and Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema.
De Kom, who was born in 1898, wrote the 1934 book We Slaves of Suriname, which is regarded as an important indictment against racism, exploitation, and colonial rule. The book was rereleased in 2020. During World War II, while De Kom was still considered a hero especially to Surinamese people, he joined the resistance in the Netherlands against the Nazis. He was captured and died in April 1945 in the concentration camp Sandbostel Neuengamme.
For two years now, De Kom has been included in the Canon of the Netherlands, the seminal list of important events, people and objects in Dutch history. There is also a statue of him in Amsterdam-Zuidoost.
On Thursday, Halsema said that with the memorial stone De Kom is now also receiving an honor reserved for prominent writers. The literary honor, which to date had not achieved, is absolutely deserved, Halsema said. “Did Anton de Kom ever think that this day would come? That his memorial stone would be placed in the same church as the tomb of Michiel de Ruyter, the Dutch ‘sea hero’ about whom Anton had to learn about so much at school when little?” she said. Halsema noted that when he was a schoolboy, “The colonial government impressed upon the Surinames the supposed superiority of the Dutch.”
In his work, De Kom opposed the notion of superiority. Suriname continues to pass on a gigantic spiritual heritage, Halsema said. “Amsterdam cannot appropriate that legacy of Anton de Kom, but it can embrace it passionately. By paying tribute to him here, by continuing to read his work and, above all, by continuing to fight all forms of superiority thinking.”
Famous authors such as Joost van den Vondel, PC Hooft, Hella S. Haasse, Johan Huizinga, Multatuli and Willem Frederik Hermans are either buried in De Nieuwe Kerk, or have similar memorial stones.