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Den Uyl wanted to ruin city

21 February 2008 - In the early 1960s, the legendary Social-Democrat Joop den Uyl developed megalomaniac plans that would have been disastrous for the liveability of the city, according to a new biography quoted by het Parool.

Den Uyl is famous for the left-wing government he led from 1973 until 1977. At an earlier stage, he was active in local politics. In the early 1960s he served as alderman and developed a reputation as a ‘champion of large-scale approaches’.

One of his projects was the construction of the high-rise buildings in the Bijlmermeer. The design of this area - inspired by the architect Le Corbusier - has been held responsible for a lack of social cohesion leading to a deterioration of the neighbourhood.

It now turns out that Den Uyl had far more ambitious plans for the city. In a 45-page ‘inventory’ written for his successor, he argued for changing the southern Jordaan neighbourhood into car parks and industrial estates and making the city centre more accessible for cars, by realising ‘breakthroughs’ including a motorway along the Utrechtsestraat.

His biographer Anet Bleich calls Den Uyl ‘a child of his time’ who “had the political good fortune of leaving the Amsterdam government before the policies he defended and implemented became highly controversial”. In the early 1970s, squatters and other activists were quite successful in opposing plans similar to those advocated by Den Uyl.

Bleich further revealed that Den Uyl sympathised with Nazi Germany in 1930s, although he loathed anti-Semitism; and that he covered up a second bribery scandal involving Prince Bernhard (after the Lockheed affair) that might have meant the end of the royal house.

Source: Anet Bleich / het Parool. Photo Ministry of General Affairs


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