The Hollandsche Schouwburg was used as a detention center for Amsterdam’s Jews during the World War II. They reported to the theater with few possessions and left facing the unknown and an almost certain death. The positive, endearing and sometimes hopeful notes that Jews managed to send to family and friends from this location are in stark contrast to the dreadful and hopeless situation in which people found themselves. These notes – often the last written words of the senders – ask the recipients to send over a hat, a roll of toilet paper or for instance, to look after a family pet for the time being.


During the Amsterdam Light Festival, these letters from the collection of the Jewish Historical Museum will be digitally manipulated in order to project them on the facade of the Hollandsche Schouwburg – an expression of what took place during the war (1940-1945) in the heart of Amsterdam.


Artists: Machteld Aardse & Femke Kempkes

Technique: Mansfeld Expotech / Pronorm /

Bart van Bokhoven / Joyce / Frans van Heiningen

Jewish Cultural Quarter

The Hollandse Schouwburg Amsterdam

Amsterdam Light Festvial 2013
Photography: Andrea Röell


David Duindam, Signs of the Shoah, The Hollandsche Schouwburg as a Site of Memory, 2016

Herdenkingsboek, May 4, 2014, Cover & presentation

(Commemoration book)
Amsterdam Light Festvial, Book of Light, 2013/14


The façade of the historical building with its tragic history is the basis of the scenery of the light projection of last words - intimate letters, notes full love and hope - of Jews who were deported from the building and killed in the Second World War. The installation shares this dark history with the public in the present in the street.


Artists Machteld Aardse and Femke Kempkes work with analogue large-scale light projections (PANI) in the public space of which the content of a building and/or place or landscape is their starting point of research.



On the cover, the image shows the projected image of the letter of Herman Chitz (1871-1943) and his wife Mathilde Chitz-De Lieme (1875-1943) for their six children.
Photo: Serge Lammerts




PANI 12 slides 18x18cm

Kodak Caroussels