The National Witch Memorial Foundation is campaigning in nearly 20 cities across the Netherlands on Saturday afternoon. The goal of the newly established foundation is to create a national memorial to the victims of the large-scale witch burnings, which mostly affected women, that took place in Europe between 1450 and 1750. In cities such as Amsterdam, Nijmegen, Delft, and Maastricht, white flowers are laid and the names of the victims are read.
“The witch hunt is the last great historical massacre we still make fun of,” the foundation’s website says. “But in doing so, we miss the opportunity to expose a deep root of misogyny.” The board wrote in a statement that it was time to raise historical awareness about the witch trials.
A physical monument in public space must do justice to “this painful part of our national history”. “It will boost awareness about what the witch hunt was and what it has brought about until now,” the foundation writes. In addition, the organization hopes that the memorial will raise awareness of misogyny and educate students about the history of femicide, NOS reports.
The victims were usually midwives, healers, or women with knowledge of medicinal plants. In times of political unrest or disaster, they were often designated as scapegoats. Furthermore, they were tortured and burned at the stake without trial. The details of the victims are not well documented, but by most estimates there were at least 50,000 victims in Europe.
White flowers will be laid at the sites where the victims’ executions took place. Theater maker Manja Bedner and writers Susan Smit and Bergje Hofstede sit on the board of the recently established foundation.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times