THE HAGUE - A huge fire tonight the Building of Arts and Sciences mostly ashes. The blaze was so great, the glow of the flames to Voorburg, Wassenaar Rijswijk and was seen.

newsreel 1964 -52. Polygoon, open Images. License: Creative-Commons

The fire in the theater- and concert started around quarter past seven in the evening. The fire spread so fast, in that the fire-fighters who first went inwards, eventually had to be rescued, because they were trapped by flames.

Bystander heard hard blows, probably from the wooden beams in the roof. A short time later the roof collapsed, at the spot where the trapped firefighters have been. Ultimately, no one injured.

Certainly seventy firefighters helped from around the area to fight the fire. The public was kept at great distance, because the fear was that a wall would fall, in the direction of the street. Eventually only a few stones down.

Volunteers helped the caretaker's house, the next state, to clear. All the furniture was put on the street. Other surrounding properties were kept wet by the fire brigade.

After two hours the fire on its peak was over. was again an hour later, only a smoking mess about.


The fire in the 'K, and W', like building in The Hague is usually called, drew thousands of curious. They were watching along Zwarteweg how firefighters did the work.

The fire attracted not only ordinary residents of The Hague. Even Prime Marijnen, Kolfschoten Mayor of The Hague and the new owner of the property, Mr.. Zwolsman, were watching. According Zwolsman the property insured against fire. The damage is estimated to exceed two million guilders.

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About the cause of the fire is still unknown, but arson is taken seriously into account. According to police, a man reported to the police, stating that he was a few days earlier had sent a threatening message to the government.

In that telegram would be, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and K and W in The Hague had to be fired. The reason for the threat is the attempt of the government to stop the television broadcasts from the REM Island in the North Sea.

It is now investigating whether a message has been sent and what it says. It is additionally monitored Concert.

On the other hand, there have been lately more problems at K and W. Het Vrije Volk called the building "dilapidated" and lists some accidents of recent years.

"A chandelier fell in the hall. Repeatedly there are people falling through the floor and seats. It even happened that in the intermission of a concert chair railings with a few nails to be firmly put in place. This year tumbled a clerk residence orchestra in the pit, After a few bars from the stage above it had gone " (Vrije Volk, 19-12-1964)

The fire probably originated in the canopy above the lobby, but investigation of the fire and police is called upon to provide more clarity. The building stood bottles stored with butane or propane.

For months now empty

The building in recent months was not in use. Zwolsman owner wanted to renovate the building, but was still waiting for the necessary permits. Yet part of the hall already addressed and performed smaller jobs.

For next week, Christmas Day, was the first performance of the Snip and Snap-revue planned. Employees had been busy all day with the preparatory work.

According to producer René Schleswig is the probability that the show still goes on, at any location, minimum.

"The damage to our business is large. All sets have gone up in smoke, and my expensive technical equipment, the sound- in light installations were destroyed. Moreover, the music bands are gone, everything must be re-recorded ", (René Schleswig, Telegraph, 21-12-1964)

Schleswig estimates the damage at about 150.000 gulden, but because the equipment is largely developed by employees, which is actually priceless and very difficult to replace.

It is not the first time that there are problems around snip en snap-performances into K and W. In 1962 fire broke out during a performance on Christmas Eve. When there was a fire in a boiler. The fire was quickly extinguished, but the burning smell was so strong, dozens of people left the hall.

Hoe ging het verder?

Zwolsman was properly insured, as it turned out a month later. The property was approximately 8 million guilders assured.

The cause of the fire could not be clarified. Arson was excluded. was never cleared up the story about the 'threatening telegram'. People who heard an explosion, just after the start of the fire, were mistaken, said the police. Possibly something collapsed.

The fire is more than one week after the fire even been busy with work nablus. In the rubble flared up 27 December, the fire again even briefly.

Revue Snip and Snap ultimately still came. Less than a month after the planned date, was still in the City Theater in Utrecht 'Together in' staged, with reconstructed decors. Among the performers were Telkamp Mieke and Tobi Rix, which was far from his familiar bells in the fire lost.

Zwolsman came within a few months with the plan to the circus building in Scheveningen to build up theater 1700 chairs. In the '90s that property bought by Joop van der Ende for 1 gulden.


“The free people : democratic-socialist newspaper”. Rotterdam, 19-12-1964, p. 1

“The Telegraph”. Amsterdam, 19-12-1964, p. 1

“The free people : democratic-socialist newspaper”. Rotterdam, 21-12-1964, p. 1

“The Telegraph”. Amsterdam, 21-12-1964, p. 1

Wikipedia – Building of Arts and Sciences (Den Haag)

“THE DOWNFALL OF BUILDING FOR K. AND W. Cause of fire still dark”. “The truth”. Amsterdam, 21-12-1964

Text: Dave Datema coop Rob Vermeulen

published: 01 oktober 2017

story number: 38

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