National Archives opens databases with information on enslaved people in Aruba and Sint Eustasius

Delft is also strongly linked to the history of slavery, concludes a study commissioned by the municipality. The research has been presented Tuesday evening. Individual Delft residents, city businesses and institutions, and the city itself benefited from the slave trade. Wealthy citizens had large houses built in and around the city with the money they earned.

The municipality is not about to apologize anytime soon. A spokesman told the ANP news agency he would respond in the second half of this year. Other cities will soon apologize, such as Vlissingen and Middelburg. They do this on July 1 during Keti Koti, when 150 years ago slavery effectively ended. Other municipalities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague have already apologized, as have De Nederlandsche Bank, ABN Amro and the Dutch state.

In Delft, products from the colonies were traded that had been produced by slave labor, according to the study. Delft also had warehouses and offices of the West India Company (WIC) and the East India Company. The city council was and was largely made up of VOC and WIC directors.

The city of Delft had no shares in either company, but individual directors did. The House of Orphans, which administered the estates of children without parents, also invested in the VOC and WIC. The orphanage chamber was part of the city council. Independent charities also had shares.

Researchers Nancy Jouwe, Gerrit Verhoeven and Ingrid van der Vlis also point to the private involvement of Delft residents in slavery. Many inhabitants of Delft owned slaves and traveled to the colonies with company ships. The WIC and VOC also employed many Delft residents. The study therefore concludes that “IIn a city like Delft, everyone knew, or could have known, that slavery existed and what it involved”.

Joram Bolle

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