The story of Asterdorp


North Amsterdam is changing rapidly. Activity everywhere, lot's of construction.                       The renovation of 'Villa Volten' is nearly finished.


The 'living school' Asterdorp is taken into use. Arie Keppler, president of the Comunity Council Housingservice of Amsterdam is a socialist to the bone. He believes the lower classes can be uplifted, 'anti-socials' can be re-educated. He is the driving force behind Asterdorp.

The little village is built with only one entrance, the current gate-building. The inhabitants are supervised by matrons. Arie Keppler himself, comes to the village often, unannounced. He checks the houses and its inhabitants for cleanliness.

In fact the first residants are paupers. The poorest of the poor, mainly for the Jordaan area.

Keppler's well -meant re-education ideal fails miserably. The residents are stigmatised and can hardly find jobs. Most of them re-locate as soon as possible. Mostly to Flora-village.

In the beginnen of WWII Asterdorp is almost empty.

The last original residents leave Asterdorp in the spring of 1941. One year later 'stateless' Jews from the middle of the country get the assignment to 'evacuate' to Asterdorp. After arrival in North Amsterdam, in June '41, most of them are directly the deported to Westerbork and onwards to Auschwitz.

Starting in November 1942 Dutch Jews also move to Asterdorp, slowly. This continues untill May 1943. Part of this group goes into hiding from the village. Most of the other do not survive the war.                                                                                                                 310 Jews lived in Asterdorp during WWII. 229 of them werd murderd.




There is a shortage of houses in the Netherlands. Asterdorp is renovated and given a different name: Tolhuis complex.


The young artist André Volten uses the gate-building as his studio. In the former community space, where once children's activities were organized and which was used as a synagoge in WWII, he then creates his artwork.

Volten is inspirered by the warfs and the mighty steal. He works a few years on the NDSM-warf and becomes an accomplished welder.


Asterdorp is torn down. The houses are bad, damp and full of mould. Only the gate-building was built with a strong foundation.

Volten has developed an attachment to the building. He fights succesfully it's preservation.

The artist now uses the entire building. The ground floor rooms are transformed into workshops. The old gate (the opening in the building) he shuts of with big metal sliding doors. The outside walls are painted white.

Volten becomes an artist of name, both at home and abroad, but he never thinks of leaving his beloved gate-building.


In September 2002 André Volten suddenly dies. He is 77 years old. A respectable age, but his death comes as a shock. He was very strong and healthy.

This is different for his wife Sophie. After his passing she moves to the Rosa Spierhome.

The gate-building now is empty.