Spikeman Monument (1922) HP Berlage

City Archives Rotterdam
About the artwork

From the original design of it Spikeman Monument very little remains of van Berlage. Hendrik Spiekman (1874 - 1917) was a Dutch typesetter, journalist and an important politician. In 1894 he was the co-founder of the Social Democratic Workers Party (SDAP). In 1901, Spiekman became the first SDAP city councilor in Rotterdam, where he constantly advocated social improvements based on his knowledge of ordinary life. In 1913 he became a member of the Provincial States of South Holland and was elected by two constituencies; he chose Rotterdam. The most important work that Spiekman performed as a member of the House of Representatives was his struggle for the legal position of sailors and dock workers. He investigated their living conditions in poor neighborhoods of the city, which showed that they were miserable. The publication of this study ensured that the municipal authorities gave space for the construction of modern neighborhoods. Spiekman himself no longer experienced that. His death in 1917 at the age of 43 caused a shock among his supporters. Rarely has there been such an impressive funeral in Rotterdam. Before his funeral on 21 November, the workers were free from stamping and tens of thousands of spectators stood by the side to watch the procession of such an 5 à 7.000 man pass by. He was buried in Crooswijk, where a memorial has been erected. Soon the idea came to honor Spiekman through a permanent memento. Architect Berlage designed a colossal monument that was to be built in Spangen, because that was one of those modern workers' neighborhoods, which was partly due to Spiekman. In 1922, construction workers took care of the realization of the monument in their free hours. It was in a park and people could sit on benches against a white wall: 'the Spiekmanbank' was a household name. The monument was festively unveiled on 21 in May 1922. And not without emotion, those present read Adema van Scheltema's simple lines of poetry, which were placed on a bronze star-shaped commemorative plaque: A poor by birth, who only brought gifts, belongs to us and died for posterity. The Spikeman Monument survived the war, but in 1965 the neighborhood was redesigned and the monument had to clear the field. Only the plaque remained and it also moved to Marconiplein. A citizens' initiative by Arie Kroon (one of the men who had worked on the original monument for free) ensured that the monument was rebuilt almost in its original form and even around where it had once stood. Mayor André van der Louw revealed this in 1981. Fifteen years later it appeared to subside. The Delfshaven district was committed to the fourth new copy of the Spikeman Monument, but unfortunately this is only a small part of the original monument. Every year the International is still sung here on 1 May at a meeting organized by the PvdA.

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About the artist

Hendrik Petrus Berlage (Amsterdam, 1856 - The Hague, 1934) was an important Dutch architect and urban planner. After his studies in Zurich, where he came into contact with the ideas of the architects Semper and Viollet-le-Duc, Berlage went to work at Th. Sanders with whom he designed various buildings in neo-Renaissance style. His ideas of rationalism, shown in his Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, are the foundation of modern architecture in the Netherlands. He built a lot in Amsterdam (including Plan Zuid expansion plan) and The Hague, where his last major work was the Gemeentemuseum.

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