Former mayor of Amsterdam Ed van Thijn has died aged 87

Ed van Thijn in 2010. Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg via Wikipedia
Ed van Thijn in 2010. Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg via Wikipedia

Former mayor of Amsterdam and Labour party minister Ed van Thijn has died at the age of 87.

Van Thijn served as mayor from 1983 until 1994, making him the longest-serving holder of the office since the Second World War. Previously he had been an MP for the PvdA from 1967 until 1981, including a five-year stint as parliamentary group leader.

Born into a Jewish family in Amsterdam in 1934, he was taken to Westerbork transit camp in 1943 but escaped when his father leaped from a train bound for the death camps and went back to rescue his wife and son.

Van Thijn spent the next year hiding at 18 different addresses before the Germans found him on a farm in Overijssel and took him back to Westerbork, but by that time the trains to Auschwitz had stopped running.

Prime minister Mark Rutte expressed his ‘respect for [Van Thijn’s] great contribution in various roles for his party and the country. [He] led our capital as mayor through turbulent times.’

Prolific writer

Van Thijn wrote several books in his later career, starting with an account of the 1977 cabinet negotiations which lasted a then record 208 days. The PvdA was the largest party at that year’s general election with a record 53 seats, but ended up in opposition after the centre-right parties Christian Democrats and VVD agreed a coalition deal.

Labour leader Lilianne Ploumen said Van Thijn was an ‘astute and conscientious social democrat’, adding: ‘Wise, respected and an unconditional campaigner for a robust democracy, against racism and injustice. We will miss him.’

Femke Halsema, the current mayor of Amsterdam, said Van Thijn was ‘deeply loved by countless people who knew him’. ‘He left our city in a safer and more habitable state. We are still reaping the fruits of his efforts for businesses and Amsterdam’s reputation in the world.’

The city council is planning to open a book of condolence for Van Thijn.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation