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Why Is There No Tram Line 8 in Amsterdam?


Question: Why Is There No Tram Line 8 in Amsterdam?

Astute observers of Amsterdam's tram map will notice the absence of a few tram numbers: 6, 8, 11, 15 ... Some of these have a practical reason behind their disuse: line 6 was simply discontinued in 2006; line 11 is occasionally resurrected for special events; line 15 was retired ... Line 8, however, has a special story behind why it was discontinued after World War II, and why it will never return.

Tram line 8 was put into service in 1905; its route took it from Central Station, to Nieuwmarkt (the central square of Amsterdam Chinatown), Waterlooplein (site of Het Muziektheater - the Music Theater - home venue of De Nederlandse Opera), Weesperstraat and Sarphatistraat (in the former Jewish Quarter, now the Weesperbuurt), to Weesperzijde (on the opposite side of the Amstel River). Despite a number of additions and modifications to the route, it remained a line that connected the Jewish enclaves of Amsterdam. (For this reason, the tram was relatively empty on Saturdays, when its many of its riders observed the Sabbath - whereas early on Sunday, line 8 was packed while the city's other trams experienced a lull.)

In 1942, when Jews were prohibited to use public transport in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, tram 8 lost much of its ridership, and was summarily discontinued. But the trams soon returned to line 8's tracks - as a means to transport Jewish Amsterdammers to the concentration camps where millions perished. Some accounts report that Jews were transported to the Central Station on this tram, while others indicate that the destination was the Hollandse Schouwburg (Holland Theater) - once a popular theater, where much of Amsterdam's Jewish community was assembled for deportation to Westerbork, a transit camp in the northeast of the Netherlands, and ultimately to German concentration camps. (The Hollandse Schouwburg now stands as a memorial to the 104,000 Dutch Jews who were murdered.) For this reason, since World War II, line 8 has been permanently retired as either a tram or bus line, out of respect to the riders who lost their lives at the end point of this journey.

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