Two and a half years ago, in March 2021, I stood here in this place. I had an appointment with the Razziamonument Rotterdam Foundation. A monument was to be built exactly here at this spot for the raid that took place in November 1944. I have lived in this city for almost 25 years. Of course I knew about the bombing of Rotterdam. How could I have never heard of the raid?

When I started to look into it, I was most struck by the massiveness, the systematic brutality and the unexpectedness of this roundup. Loved ones, couples and families, friends and neighbors, were torn apart from one moment to the next. Separated from each other and torn from their everyday environment. Nobody had a choice. And that's what makes it so brutal. A traumatic event. Not only for the 52.000 men who were deported, but also for those left behind, the women and children, who were left behind in uncertainty and who suddenly had to keep an entire city running in appalling conditions.

My assignment was to create a monument so that the raid would no longer be a forgotten chapter in the history of Rotterdam. But how do you shape something so intense? How do you translate the brutal, abrupt separation of people, of loved ones who belong together?

Art can do that. Art creates images and thereby makes the invisible visible. Art places topics at the center of society and makes them open to discussion.

I am a sculptor. My material for making subjects visible is clay. I sculpted two people standing close to each other. Lovingly. Then I did what happened during the raid: I took a knife and brutally cut these two people apart. The unit split into two parts.

Where the two human figures once touched each other, two large wounds became visible. It is good that these wounds are finally becoming visible – even if it hurts. You have to be able to see wounds in order to heal them. You don't always see these wounds. Sometimes you have to change position for that. Just step aside. But once you see them, you will never forget them.

These two statues, a man and a woman, are now at a distance from each other here on the Maas. The woman stands awake, vulnerable and yet strong. The man is kneeling, but you still have the feeling that he can immediately get up again and continue. They are both lonely – and yet full of hope. Because even though they are distant from each other, they still remain connected.

This man and this woman give a face to all the victims of the raid. There are people behind the anonymous numbers of victims. Individuals. People who had to learn to live with their wounds after the war. Wounds that don't just disappear. Wounds, which are often even passed on from generation to generation. Political events that determine, make or break people's personal lives.

War never has winners.
War has only losers.

Especially at a time like this, where war is coming so close to us again, we must never forget that war starts with polarization, with language, with the exclusion of 'the other'. This monument does the opposite. It brings people together. It makes an immense, forgotten chapter visible – and places it at the center of the lives of the people of Rotterdam.

We cannot undo the actions of the past. All we can do is remember the past. In the hope that we learn from this. In the hope that such a history will never repeat itself in the future.

Spoken by Anne Wenzel during the unveiling of it Razzia Monument on November 10, 2023.