70 years ago in World War II a bridge was made of several ferries over the IJ, so people could go to North to look for food. People walked to Waterland and even to West Friesland. Many didn’t survive this trip. On May 5 this bridge is built again this year.
This time the bridge is made of pontoons instead of ferries and serves as temporary monument in memory of the wartime in Amsterdam. It is an initiative of the Amsterdam May 4 and 5 Committee. The bridge can be used from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m.. The people who used the original bridge may be the first to cross. After that all the people of Amsterdam, as in the war, may use the ponton bridge for walking over the IJ. One will have to make areservation in advance.
Also the mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan is present at the opening. At the northern bank of the IJ a freedom meal will be organized for about a thousand men. And there will be a farmers ‘ market. There will be a world class chef cooking dishes with the help of a historian of the second world war.
At the end of the second world war the center of Amsterdam and the north part of Amsterdam were connected by a pontoon bridge, or actually a bridge made of ferries. Ferries were linked together, in order to save scarce fuel. Thus was born the connection between downtown and the northern part of Amsterdam. It was the only physical connection ever.
In the last year of the second world war there was a great shortage of food. The inhabitants of Amsterdam pulled out of town to surrounding farms for example, to trade their last possessions for a sack of potatoes. They walked from Amsterdam, over the bridge of ferries, to Waterland and even to West Friesland. Many survived not this tour, because of the intense cold and hunger.
With more than two hundred programs on May 4 and 5 the second world war will be remembered. The pontoon bridge over the IJ is the center of commemorations, open houses, freedom and liberation festivals in the city.