News of: Wednesday, February 06 2013,
A new point of interest was found in the centre of Amsterdam: the house where Hans Brinker was born.
This wouldn't be very special, were it not that Hans Brinker is a fictional character from a (famous) American novel.
Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates (1865, by author Mary Mapes Dodge) relates about a Dutch boy, who courageously plugs a dike with his finger, thereby preventing a flood.
The story is known by most Americans, and has shaped the American idea of what Holland is about.
The fact that Hans Brinker never really existed did not prevent the Dutch from making several statues of the heroic boy, to please American tourists. Statues of Hans Brinker have been erected in Spaarndam (close to Amsterdam), Harlingen (in the North of the country) and in Den Haag (at the entrance of the miniature town Madurodam).
The plaque commemorating the fact that Hans Brinker was born in the house at Oude Nieuwstraat 17, on the 27th of August 1799, appears to be a new addition to his fictitious life.
The plaque carries the logo of the ANWB, which is the main Dutch Automobile Association, one of the biggest associations in the Netherlands, as practically all car owners are a member.
One of the (many) things the ANWB does is place plaques like this on historic buildings, giving some explanation.
When we asked the ANWB about this particular one, they let us know that cities ask the ANWB to produce a plaque - and the city produces the text on it, and places it. Therefore, in this case, the city of Amsterdam would be responsible.
We'll ask them and let you know (result: the city doesn't know, and we asked someone who lived in the building, and he didn't know either. So we may never know....).
Hans Brinker House sign
Hans Brinker statue at Spaarndam