A story of human courage, compassion, endurance and resilience
During the Second World War, the Breeplein Church in Rotterdam South harboured a secret: three Jewish families were in hiding in the two attics high on both sides of the organ. What began, in their mind, as a temporary shelter for six weeks became a refuge for three years. The story of the Breeplein Church is one of courage, hope and trust, a story full of wonders… the birth of a perfectly healthy baby, and, during a raid three weeks before the liberation, the fact that the families were not discovered.
Curious about the full story? Read the book The Organ Attics – People in hiding in the Breeplein Church in Rotterdam, written by Anja Matser.
Campaign to rescue the Organ attics via petities.nl
A campaign has been launched on petities.nl to save the Organ Attics, under the motto Preserve the Organ Attics Shelter for a vigilant and resilient Rotterdam. The Organ Attics foundation has initiated this petition, targeted at the Protestant Congregation Rotterdam-Zuid, which has sold the church to the Levend Woord Congregation.
The sale has created uncertainty for the continuation of the educational and museum activities of the Organ Attics. The signatories of the petition request the PGRZ to ensure that this uncertainty ends and that the Organ Attics can secure their existence and future. The attics can then be restored and provide safer access to visitors, as well as achieve the status of a professionally curated museum with a visitor centre. Various funds have now promised to fund the necessary work.
Here is the link to the petition:
The future and survival of the Organ Attics hangs by a thread
Rotterdam, February 18, 2021
The Court of Rotterdam will shortly rule if the sale of the Breeplein Church in Rotterdam South should be revoked. The ruling is critical for the preservation of the Organ Attics in the church.
The owner of the church, the Protestant Municipality of Rotterdam-South, has sold the building in its entirety to the Levend Woord Council. Two foundations – The Organ Attics Foundation and the Friends of the Breeplein Church – as well as numerous local councillors have contested this sale, because no provisions have been made for the continued existence of the Organ Attics and the Friends of the Breeplein Church. This is despite repeated assurances given that these provisions would be made.
Without meaningful consultation
There has been no meaningful consultation with the new owner of the church, the Levend Woord Council on the use of the various spaces and on the accessibility to the Organ Attics. It is, therefore, now uncertain whether the Organ Attics Foundation Rotterdam can continue to offer guided tours or whether the Attics can continue to be visited in the future. This will especially affect thousands of school children since the visits to the Organ Attics are a popular part of visual/graphic education.
(Incidentally, the Attics are currently closed due to the Corona regulations).
An available solution
A proposal to provide a solution to this issue has been on the shelf for more than four years. In 2017, Stadsherstel (City Renewal) declared its willingness to buy the church in its entirety and to fund and carry out extensive and overdue maintenance. The foundations have drawn up a plan which can satisfy all parties. The Levend Woord Council can continue to rent the church for its services, and the Friends of the Breeplein church can continue with their singing and concerts.
A professional Museum
As part of this plan, it is especially important that the Organ Attics Foundation can restore the hiding places. This will not only enhance the Attics but also make them safer for access. In addition, it will give them the status of a professionally curated museum with a visitors’ centre. Various funds have now promised to fund the necessary work.
Secret Annex of Rotterdam
Mayor Aboutaleb has referred to the Organ Attics time and again as “the secret Annex of Rotterdam”, adding that this wonderful story of courage, trust and tolerance must be passed on the new generations.
It is now up to the Court.
Guided tours have been discontinued
The guided tours of the Organ Attics in the Breeplein Church in Rotterdam have been discontinued for the time being. They will resume as soon as the current restrictions due to the Corona Virus have been lifted.
Would you like to receive notification of resumed guided tours? If so, please fill in the form on the Guided Tours page.
The Executive Committee of the Organ Attics Foundation
Who will pick up the challenge?
The Stichting Orgelzolders (the Organ Attics Foundation) is looking for male or female tour guides.
- Would you like to delve further into the history of the Jewish families who were in hiding at the Breeplein Church in Rotterdam during the Second World War? And learn more about the motives that drove their helpers?
- Would you like to ensure that this story of the Organ Attics continues to be told?
- Do you think that persecution and discrimination should no longer exist? And that this opinion should be encouraged in and shared with school children and all young people?
- Are you willing to be a tour guide for the Organ Attics, enthusiastically telling the story to young and old visitors and answering their questions?
- Do you feel that not being paid for this work is of no importance?
Then you only need to do one thing: send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Let us know:
- Your name, age, address, and telephone number
- Subject of study or occupation
We will contact you as soon as possible.
Thank you in advance for your initiative!
Dilia van der Heem
Read the book The Organ Attics
The English version of the book on the families in hiding in the Organ Attics
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands, the book about the Jewish families in hiding in the Breeplein Church in Rotterdam has been translated in English.
In this book, the author Anja Matser tells the improbable but true story of the six adults and a baby born during their long period in hiding. Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam, has written the introduction.
Both The Organ Attics (€ 10) and the original book in Dutch, De Orgelzolders. Onderduikers in de Rotterdamse Breepleinkerk (18,95), can be bought via this website. Please go to the page “The Books” for more information.