Delft is latest Dutch city to apologise for slave trade role

Photo: N. van der Pas

Delft has become the latest Dutch council to apologise for its role in the slave trade.

Mayor Marja van Bijsterveldt told a meeting on Tuesday night that the city council “could not close its eyes to the involvement of its distant predecessors in slavery”.
“We apologise deeply for their actions,” the mayor said.

The apology follows the publication of research into the city’s role in slaving, which found that both the VOC and WIC had offices in Delft. The two companies are believed to have traded in 1.5 million enslaved people between them.

A large proportion of the VOC and WIC Delft administrators were also members of the city’s governing body and hundreds of ships left from Delfshaven near Rotterdam to ply their trade.

Earlier this week, it emerged that Hoorn council would not apologise for that town’s role in slavery, despite the strong links, because officials in those days were not elected members of the public.

The Delft apology came a year after prime minister Mark Rutte apologised on behalf of the national government. King Willem-Alexander apologised for the Dutch role in the slave trade this summer.

In the last two years year the mayors of all four major cities have apologised for their role in facilitating the slave trade, while the Dutch central bank has published a report detailing how it was founded with capital from colonial entrepreneurs and provided financial services to slave traders.

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