07 October 2014

HER Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of The Netherlands opened a brand-new Salvation Army residential facility in Amsterdam which is named after the country’s best-known Salvationist. Situated in the northern part of the city’s red-light district, the ‘Majoor Bosshardtburgh’ offers accommodation for up to 36 people with psychiatric problems or other long-term health issues.

Before the official opening, the princess attended a civic gathering in the capital’s historic Koepelkerk. Eric van den Burg, Alderman of Care and Welfare, spoke emotionally about the investment, saying ‘the Majoor Bosshardtburgh makes Amsterdam a little bit better’.

After the opening ceremony, the Princess was given a tour of the facility. In the Majoor Bosshardtburgh, all residents have their own rooms, each of which is equipped to be suitable for the often poor physical health situation of the residents. Envoy Henk Dijkstra, The Salvation Army's Director for Social Services in Amsterdam, says that residents he has spoken to are very grateful for the new facilities. He explained that some are used to living in places without what most people would think of as essentials – even toilets.

The Majoor Bosshardtburgh is named in honour of Lieut-Colonel Alida Bosshardt OF, whose half-a-century ministry in the Amsterdam red-light district was known across The Netherlands and was recognised by her admittance to the Order of the Founder, The Salvation Army's highest honour. (She was still known to most Dutch people as Major Bosshardt even after she was promoted to lieut-colonel.) Her personal slogan was: ‘To serve God is to serve people and to serve people is to serve God.’

It was appropriate that Princess Beatrix conducted the opening ceremony because she had a long relationship with Major Bosshardt. As Queen Beatrix she wrote of her sadness at the colonel’s promotion to Glory in June 2007, and as a young princess she had secretly joined her in the red-light district to distribute The War Cry in bars and visit prostitutes and poor families. 

The day’s proceedings also included the opening by Territorial Commander Commissioner Hans van Vliet of a new Salvation Army museum, which is situated next door to Majoor Bosshardtburgh.

Report by Nathan Sudemeier

Tags: Europe