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Housing struggle in the Netherlands: The battle for Lucky Luyk [Amsterdam 1981 – 1982]

Amsterdam Nethelands. After the Pierson eviction in Nijmegen (part 4 in this series) in February 1981, I will return to the developments in Amsterdam. The first 3 parts on the housing struggle in Amsterdam can be found here: 123.

The experience of the deployment of the army during the Pierson Street eviction had changed everything for me. I had seen the ugly face of so-called parliamentary democracy in front of my own eyes. Standing right in front of a Leopard tank and seeing the snipers on the roof is something you never forget. I was beginning to realize that we have to change everything…. At the age of 15.

Published by Enough 14.  Written by Riot Turtle.

In the latest issue of Sunzi Bingfa there is also a German version of this article:

At the beginning of 1981, when the clouds of smoke have faded, the balance sheet of a year of massive and militant resistance by squatters can be drawn. The confrontation with the political class sought by some groups dramatically changed the political landscape in comparison to 1979. With the success of putting the housing shortage of young people at the top of the political agenda. As a result of this development, a new generation of squatters joined the movement, and at the end of 1981 I became one of them. In 1980, a handful of squats were evicted, but in the meantime hundreds more appeared all over the Netherlands.

With the new generation of squatters, the squatter movement increasingly transformed from a movement for housing for young people to a broader fundamental anti-capitalist movement against domination, oppression, exploitation, coercion, discrimination, pollution and nuclear energy. The squat is now not only a safe haven where we can experiment different forms of living together, but also a base from which we fight against capitalism and domination. By squatting, we have already answered the question of ownership. But that is not enough. There are more and more antifascist actions, but also militarism, sexism and also nuclear power become a big issue. But not everybody is happy with these changes…


Before I left the children’s home for good, there was a short “run away” action. In September 1981 we went for a few days to a nuclear power plant in Dodewaard with our affinity group from the children’s home. There, people organized blockades. We had learned how to avoid checkpoints in Pierson Street, and since we had only walked across the fields long before we reached Dodewaard, we didn’t even know if there were any when we arrived. After the battle for Pierson Street, the scene in Nijmegen became extremely radicalized. This may have contributed to the fact that the grassroots groups of the anti-nuclear movement are now organized into three categories: the fundamentally non-violent, the basically non-violent, and the rest who don’t let riot cops beat them up. We belonged to the last category.

Image: Clashes in Dodewaard on September 18, 1981.

The radical grassroots groups have their own slogan: “Only the angry mob helps against authority and order.” As soon as we arrived, we ran towards the riot cops along with other autonomists. We got bombarded with a hail of tear gas grenades. After that, hours of clashes followed, which were repeated the next day. The cops were backed by vigilantes, and fascists from the fascist NVU party also organized vigilante groups that supported the cops. After two days the blockade actions are over, the next day there is a demonstration of 40,000 people in Arnhem.

Huize Lydia

However, the expansion of the field of action does not mean that squatters are turning away from the housing struggle. In Amsterdam alone, about 9,000 people lived in squats in 1981. In the entire Netherlands, there are about 20,000.

On October 8, 1981, two buildings are evicted: the last remaining part of the ‘Grote Wetering’ and ‘Huize Lydia’ near Concertgebouw. The evening demonstrations take place at some distance from the building because the cops have sealed off the streets. Lydia cannot be reached and so they all move to the city center. In big and small groups, loud and militant. “Banks, consulates, travel agencies and temp agencies were smashed”, says the demo report in the squatters magazine ‘de Laatste Waarschuwing’ (The Last Warning). During the clashes after these 2 evictions, the cops are also attacked with Molotov cocktails. After the threat in Vondel Street and Pierson Street that the cops would shoot with live ammunition if Molotov cocktails were used, the fear seems to have disappeared.

Lucky Luyk

During that spring, a building on Jan Luyken Street in the Concertgebouw neighborhood is squatted. In the documentary ‘The City Belongs to Us‘, many of those involved recount the events related to the occupation of Lucky Luyk. The disagreements between the group around Theo and other activists had been present for some time, but they first became abundantly clear at the Lucky Luyk. There is a first crack in the movement.
One of the Lucky Luyk occupants, Benjamin, says:

“As a squatter, you might have moved into an apartment in the Staatsliedenbuurt district out of a desperate need for housing, but for me, moving into a squat was more a political decision. We started squatting because we wanted to live in a house with eight people. We were all politically active in different ways, and we wanted to do that together from one house. Squatting was the only way to do that. After some searching, we ended up in Jan Luyken Street in the Concertgebouw area. We found a building that was empty and belonged to a notary who had moved to Bijlmerprison because she had put too many inheritances in her own pocket. When we went in, we found a huge, luxurious building with two bathrooms, one of which was covered with marble, a vacuum cleaner system with holes in the wall where you could put hoses in and already the vacuum cleaner started to work, it was really very luxuriously built. So it was a great pleasure for the eight of us to live there.

The building was auctioned off and then came into the hands of someone we did not know, but we understood that it was not squeaky-clean. A squatted building was being auctioned off for half the price it would normally make. The idea was to make money, we would leave and the building would be vacant, and the price would double again. We lived there from April to October. At some point we were evicted by a gang of thugs who invaded the building at night with about twenty people. I remember waking up and hearing a lot of noise. I must have been a little scared because I went out with a baseball bat to see what was going on. When I left my room and came out into the hallway, I was immediately met by a couple of broad-shouldered men wearing helmets who immediately pushed me up against the wall.”

It was no surprise that the cops didn’t do a thing to help the squatters when they were evicted by the gang of thugs. A few days later, when squatter Guus goes out as a spotter to a squatter alarm, he is shot in the neck by an obscure figure and ends up in an intensive care unit. Enough is enough. A general assembly is called, where it is decided to do something about the gang attacks and to take back the Lucky Luyk. Theo remembers:

“The need to resquat the Luyk was very clear to us. First of all, the squatters had been thrown out of their homes by gangsters. The city openly sided with those criminals. This gives a very strange feeling. The city and the judiciary refused to do anything about this injustice. So it was very logical, as we were used to, to take action ourselves. You can’t let that happen, because it would affect other buildings as well: If the criminal underworld, the government, and the speculators were violent enough, any squat could be evicted, because that was the message.”


“This was a pretty violent eviction of the Luyk by this gang of thugs. It was more than just an eviction, people were literally beaten up, it was also quite clear that this was a group that wasn’t necessarily going to leave it at one building. Also, at the same time, a good friend of ours was grabbed by the property owner on the street, a gun was held to his neck and he was gunned down. He survived that with a lot of luck and wisdom, but it added a new dimension to the tension and thrill. I remember that there was a demonstration after the Luyk was evicted. It also passed the OLVG hospital, where Guus was being treated. Then we went to Blasiusstreet, where the owner had his office. Without an agreement or preconceived plan, it was really fast: ‘here it is, open it, go in and torch it’. It was a very liberating operation, and it wasn’t easy.

I thought the reoccupation of Luyk was justified. You shouldn’t let yourself be pushed aside, even by a bunch of thugs. I thought it was very important to find out what was actually behind it. And then all the journalists came and asked what we were going to do, what our demands were, and whether there would be violence. I always said, ‘If you take your work seriously, you will find out where the violence is coming from.’ But nobody did. So we did it, certain gyms and bars in the red light district. Again, the idea was that we have to forestall them. We need to know where they’re coming from before they strike, so we can keep an eye on them.”

Lucky Luyk


“After the gang evicted the Luyk, it was clear to everyone that something had to happen, but that ‘something’ was very vague. The building had to be reclaimed, but everyone was thinking, ‘Okay, but then what and how and who?’ No answers came, which is why at some point I raised my finger after looking around in the room and said, ‘I’ll do it, with a number of people I choose around me.’ So I started organizing this thing with the former residents, with people from the neighborhood and people from my own neighborhood, and in a few days we had a rough plan ready of how this resquat action was going to happen.”


“The preparation for the reoccupation began the evening after the gang had evicted. That evening, a demonstration against another eviction was diverted so that it passed the Luyk. There were big discussions in front of the door: ‘We will reoccupy the building on the spot’. This led to a general assembly being held in the evening. It was then decided that the building would be resquatted, or anyway, that preparations would be started, and that until further developments this week, there would be a resquatting or not. For me, there was never much discussion until the night before about whether the action itself was good. The action was good because the city government did nothing, our backs were against the wall, it was said at the time.”


“It was clear that resistance was to be expected. There were stories going around in the city that these thugs would be heavily armed with pistols and rifles in the building. We weren’t afraid, but we assumed there was a goon squad in there to defend the building. We then trained with those who would enter the building first. We all had thick clothing, bulletproof military vests and helmets, we had made plastic shields like the police have, batons, fire extinguishers. We had mini fire bombs with us, because we assumed that the building would have to be conquered room by room, floor by floor, with a maximum of noise and visual effects, so to speak. And that, if possible, with a minimum of violence, so also with a minimum of people injured, although we expected violence. The idea was to overwhelm our opponents with a minimum of violence, but that was only possible if we created a surprise and surrounded the building in large numbers. Then they would see that resistance was futile. So we trained to enter the building using stairways and scaffolding, defending and protecting each other, hoping that we could eventually conquer the building with this plan.”


“The reoccupation of the Luyk was mainly organized by the guys from the ‘Staats’ [1]. They turned it into a general staff action. They did the inside work and more or less took over. But that meant they did the heavy work: confronting the armed guys. They talked about it and trained. At that time, we were also members of groups that trained self-defense in gyms. You learned how to react if someone pointed a gun at you or pulled a knife in front of you. Purely defensive, but we trained for confrontations with guys who could fight much better than we could. The guys in the ‘Staats’ were a little more rough. In the ”Grachtengordel” [2] we were rather students. In the ‘Staats’ were the better fighters. They took the lead during the reoccupation.”


“There were some plenaries, both with the residents who were evicted and with the neighborhood that was affected. We always consulted the neighborhood ourselves. The neighborhood had signaled that they needed support and wanted to do something. So there was discussion about how the reoccupation should proceed. We also began to prepare, and we knew that this preparation had to be much better organized than in past situations. We had to act on a much more military level than in many other cases of reoccupation or squatting. That meant you had to train. It was a freestanding building where you had to think a little bit about facades tourism, about long ladders, breaking the doors, getting in through windows. The gangsters are armed, so you had to assume that you had to go in with bulletproof vests, helmets, batons, anyway, it could become a real fight, and you had to expect that there could be fatalities. There was some talk on this level as well, even though people in the squatters’ movement generally didn’t like that very much.

When the decision was made to remove the thugs from the building, there was a lot of fear, because something like this had not happened often before – maybe it was the first time – and we didn’t know what these people would do. Suddenly there was a kind of mood like ‘Should we really do it?”, a kind of fear, a kind of doubt that was existing in everybody, but we had come so far with the preparation, there were so many steps taken, that we decided to go ahead.”


“My problem with the reoccupation was that the operation started to have military characteristics. The necessary weaponry was obtained and attack drills were carried out in the dunes. At the same time, everybody was supposed to participate in solidarity. There were discussions about this until right before the reconquest. The general mood was ‘we don’t like it anymore, we think it should be done, but you’re putting us on the spot by doing it this way, and that’s just a form of blackmail of solidarity’.”


“The night before the reoccupation, there was quite a tense atmosphere in the room where we assembled, as if there was an intense fear. I remember that this anxious feeling became stronger when suddenly people came to discuss whether we should proceed with the whole thing, and doubts arose as to whether we should do it at all. I don’t like it when people cancel things at the last minute, but I also felt that these two groups were suddenly on opposite sides, and maybe that was one of the first signs that the movement was falling apart. I don’t remember exactly who they were, but I think they were people from the Grachtengordel. In any case, it was not pleasant.”

Poster above: CPN (Communist Party of the Netherlands) – Betrayal Lucky Luyk against terror of thugs.


“We really hated that we were ‘opened like a can of squatters’ and used. We had no influence on how things were being done. We were used as an army unit, we were very aware of that, and we found it very unpleasant. We tried to talk about it with a delegation from the Grachtengordel plenary. But there was no talking. They just sent us away again under a pretext. Later I wrote an article about it in the ‘Last Warning’, about which there was a real argument. That was the beginning of a clear opposition to such an authoritarian kind of organization. A kind of organization that we ourselves had learned well, but of which we knew what the limit was.”


“At a certain point, fear started to play a role. There were all kinds of moralism. You could also see a tendency that would later become disastrous: People started coming more individually and then stopped sending delegates, they didn’t come to speak on behalf of a group, they just came to speak about their personal fears. All well and good, but the fact that you start making a fuss, that you really start antagonizing people to try to dissuade others from taking action, to decide that others shouldn’t take action, well, that’s a strategy and a sentiment that we’ve always fought against. That’s oppression of the first degree: no longer having the right to do something. They were moralistic people, fearful people, people with a lack of trust in others. They were also not people who had confidence in their own neighborhoods.”


“In the VPC (A squat) everything was focused on the ‘luyk’. I was drawn in, not so much because I was fascinated by the building, but because there were always discussions about it, especially about the fact that the building had been evicted by a gang of criminals. It was also a threat, because it could happen to any of us. That’s why there was so much solidarity. The shocking thing was that while we were still discussing how to get the ‘Luyk’ back, because that was clearly what we wanted to achieve, to get the ‘Luyk’ back through one of our mobs. That’s also the reason why I got more and more involved in the action center and wanted to get involved in the discussions: ‘In what way do you carry out actions? Do you do it violently or can you do it in other ways’. Because apart from the fact that the ‘Luyk’ was so central, we also lived in the neighborhood, and I found it important, just like the people around me, that the local residents accepted us, that you could live in the neighborhood without feeling threatened and without the feeling that people didn’t want to have anything to do with you. And those were two things that were very much at odds with each other. That was playing out primarily between our neighborhood and the other Neighborhoods.”


“I began to suffer more and more to live in such a small world. There was less and less discussion or reflection. But the decisive moment for me, a kind of turning point or break, was the reoccupation of the ‘Lucky Luyk’. We were strictly against it, at least the small group I was with. I didn’t think it was politically acceptable. By choosing to confront thugs so harshly, they were acting in such an ambiguous way that violence had to be in the foreground, and that would lead to further isolation. I felt that the end did not justify the means. In this way, they created a split, they started to organize their own gang, and I was absolutely against it. The way the action was organized was quite conspiratorial, but also very authoritarian. Either you are for us or against us, and there was no possibility to discuss it. You had to show solidarity, and that was strongly emphasized. There were also reports of training, disgusting, I found it really had something of ‘male fantasies’ and playing war games.”


“Different teams were formed, there was a team that wanted to go on the roof, there were the fiercest people there, with bulletproof vests I think, they wanted to go on the roof with ladders, but in the end they didn’t dare. There were a couple of groups that were supposed to go in from the back beforehand and there was a group that positioned themselves across the building with catapults to cover the windows. These groups gathered in different places around the city. I was in the occupied bar ‘Opstand’ (English: Uprising) in the Vondelpark-Concertgebouw district and had to give the signal. Everything was precisely synchronized: from one meeting point it was six minutes, from another three, so the group had to leave three minutes early and I would give the start signal by phone. At the moment when the start signal was to be given, discussions broke out everywhere. But by then it was too late, because we had to be in the building at quarter past five because of the ‘Radio City’ broadcast.”


“My enthusiasm and activities in the squatters’ movement were definitely a reaction to the Second World War: not just looking at the authorities and not just standing idly by, so a certain degree of distrust and vigilance. But during the reconquest of the Luyk, I was very aware that there was no war here, that war looks very different. I thought it was self-promotion and the appropriation of a position that made no sense.
Just before the Luyk was reoccupied, we were cycling to a building where people were gathering, in a kind of desperate attempt to have a discussion or to convince people that this was not the way to go. But of course that was nonsense because everybody was so focused that they weren’t even listening, so that was immediately over.”


“Friends asked me, ‘Come filming, we’re going to do something very spectacular at the ‘Luyk’.’ I didn’t know exactly what they were going to do, because it was all secret, secret, secret, but I thought, ‘Let’s film it,’ as I had filmed so much before. It was already a little dark, and a truck was approaching, a van, I think. Suddenly the hatch opens and there are all these people in black, black helmets, everything they were wearing was black. It looked more like cops than squatters. It all happened very fast, noise and yelling, they had a chainsaw with them, and everyone had special tasks, and it all happened so fast, I didn’t film that much, in a few minutes it was all over.
I couldn’t believe my eyes, what I saw through the viewfinder. It was so anonymous, everyone was unrecognizable, but there had to be one or two people I was supposed to know. That’s the very last thing I ever filmed of squatting because I thought, the way it was going, that’s not good. It was so aggressive, too, if the thugs hadn’t walked out themselves, they would have crushed them .”

Video: Resquatting Lucky Luyk (Amsterdam, 1981)


“When we went to the building, we knew that there were some members of the thug squad in the building and in the surrounding hotels. We also knew that the police had been informed about the action. This was not illogical, because we had prepared a mass action and it had been in the air for days that it would take place, only the date was unknown. When we finally went there, we thought, ‘We’ll see how far we get.’ We surrounded the building, we opened it – it was barricaded from the inside, partly by our own barricades, partly by the thugs – and after the building was completely opened, we offered them a free exit. Then, as planned, we conquered the building room by room, floor by floor. We found some of the hoodlums there, but because we wanted to deal with them with a minimum of physical force, we talked to them until they finally walked out and were taken away by the police. When the time came, everybody jumped on each other’s necks and cheered and cried and so forth, because things could have gotten seriously out of hand.”


“The reoccupation went great. I was really afraid because of all the counter-power of fearful and moralistic people, but we were about 400, well-trained activists, well coordinated and above all highly motivated. Like 400 wasps we stormed towards the building, not chaotically, but well organized. And all under the eyes of the riot cops, who could do nothing. The thugs were taken out. Despite all the risks, quite a large group dared to take the consequences. No one had arrived with the idea that everything would go smoothly. Everyone was well prepared; everyone knew what could happen.”


“I agreed with the reoccupation of the ‘Lucky Luyk’, but not with the way it was organized. I thought it should have been discussed longer, for example, there was no real occupation group. It had to be reoccupied, because this bunch of thugs were obviously beasts, you couldn’t let that pass. But I thought it was done much too hastily. That turned out to be true later, because the randomly formed occupation group really had a hard time. It wasn’t until they got into ‘Lucky Luyk’ that they started to form a group. I thought it was kind of a panic tactic to reoccupy so fast, without a clear agreement about what would happen next. I opposed it in our neighborhood, and many people I knew did as well. In the end, the signal was given: We’re going to reoccupy. All the people who were against it went in like cannon fodder to join in. I was really shocked to find out that the feeling of wanting to be there was more important than one’s intelligence or feelings about it. I can’t say it was a break for me, but there were moments when I thought, so that’s how it goes.

It’s not so much the militarism that I found offensive, but the undemocratic aspect. It was, ‘Let’s just go, period.’ While the discussions were still going on and some things were still to be sorted out. No attention was paid to the outcome, only to the moment itself. I think that’s completely out of line, and I was against it.”


“In the end, we just went for it, and in hindsight, it turned out that reoccupation wasn’t as hard as we thought it would be. We drove cars to the building and stormed in. There were people who stormed upstairs, and there was a group that took the hoodlums away. I was in the latter group, and it was agreed that they would be taken away under escort. I came outside with one of the thugs and there was a crowd of squatters, a huge cheer started and I managed to protect the man under my leather jacket. The next day, under the picture that was taken of it, it said ‘a plainclothes policeman takes away a gang member’. Fortunately, many in the movement knew me, so there were no consequences for me. Except when I got home. It was raining cats and dogs, it was three in the morning and what did I see written on my window: ‘A plainclothes cop lives here’. I didn’t know how fast I could grab a sponge and quickly removed it in the pouring rain, because of course I didn’t want people in the neighborhood to think I was a cop. I thought that was going too far, and besides, it was obviously a joke meant for me by my friends.”


“The reoccupation succeeded, but I also wrote an article on behalf of others in my neighborhood to explain why we were so vehemently opposed to the project. I can still see myself writing it and realizing it would be published in the ‘Last Warning.’ I was very nervous because it was the first time I made it so clear that I totally disagreed with the line that was pursued, and of course that went against the very solidarity that was demanded of us. In that sense it was a big step, you took a different direction, you took a different path.

Although the squatters’ movement could not be called a ‘safe movement’ in terms of the life it entailed, it did provide a home, insofar as one was involved in the whole network, and that also provided security. And now I’m saying that’s just not okay, and I think the reoccupation was terrible. I was approached about it, and so were others. We were received on the radio once, on sa quatter radio station, to explain how and what and why, and it was all quite friendly, but they said, ‘Yes, Aunt Evelien, you’ve been with the movement for so long and yet you take this position,’ and it was terribly dismissive. The whole reoccupation caused me to pause and I had to leave. I was probably already moving in that direction, but this was the crucial point.”

Finally in Amsterdam

In the meantime I had turned 16 and was living in Amsterdam. It had been a long and difficult struggle to get out of the children’s home. In the end, I had put the knife to the throat of the institution, the Youth Welfare Office and my parents by running away in the late summer of 1981 and not coming back. During this ‘run away period’ I lived alternately in squats in Arnhem and Nijmegen and often on the street. However, I kept in touch with my mother by phone to let her know that I was doing well and to regularly repeat my demand: an apartment of my own. After the ordeal in the children’s home, I slowly began to revive. Even life on the street was better than in that institution and the psychological torture practiced there. Finally, we found a compromise. I went to an supported living project for 6 months and after that my custodian let me move to Amsterdam. To my first own apartment, which was actually just a room. An apartment was so expensive in Amsterdam that it was beyond my budget. Housing shortage in capitalism. Soon I had made friends and we organized a fake apartment where I lived on paper only, but where my custodian could come by to see how I lived. This worked well, I had learned by now what social workers wanted to hear. And my custodian loved ‘my’ apartment. With a group of people I looked for an empty building and after we found out who the owner was, we squatted the building. I actually lived there.

I didn’t live far away from the ‘Lucky Luyk’. The American consulate was also near. Before the eviction threat of the ‘Lucky Luyk’ became more concrete, there were clashes at the U.S. Consulate for weeks. In El Salvador, despite desperate efforts. unlike the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the rebels were not on the winning side. The massive U.S. support for the ruling junta was responsible for this. When the four IKON journalists Koos Koster, Hans ter Laag, Jan Kuiper and Joop Willemsen were murdered by death squads deployed by the Salvadoran government in El Salvador in March 1982, Amsterdam was ablaze. The American consulate on Museumplein was regularly attacked with stones and paint bombs. The cops tried to protect the consulate and were therefore also attacked. It was often difficult to reach the consulate. After a few weeks, the cops sealed off the whole area. But since I lived right in the neighborhood, it was easy for me to get there.

Eviction of the ‘Lucky Luyk’

Due to the illegal eviction and the subsequent reoccupation, the ‘Lucky Luyk’ became a new symbol, especially for the group that had played such a dominant role in planning and carrying out the reoccupation. In the meantime, city authorities had bought the ‘Lucky Luyk’ and there were also talks between the city and the squatters. However, these negotiations came to nothing. The city was initially concerned about a possible eviction. A survey showed that the majority of Amsterdam’s residents were positive about squatting. Under Mayor Polak, a major campaign to criminalize squatters was launched in order to undermine the broad support for the movement.

In the summer of 1982, the immediate threat of eviction increases again, because Mayor Polak is forced by a judge to evict the building, and the reoccupation team is one of the first to support the neighborhood and the residents with the entire organization around the building. I hadn’t lived in Amsterdam that long and didn’t know all the details. The city was also full of posters. There were calls to put pressure on the banks, Polak and the judiciary with sabotage actions even before the eviction.

After the ‘Great Emperor’ and the Vondelstreet, the Lucky Luyk is the center of a new confrontation with the municipality. The barricading is done the old-fashioned way: the building is sealed with steel plates. In addition, posters, flyers, banners and graffiti are used to communicate the squatters’ message to the Amsterdam population: “Evicting Luyk = War”.

In the early morning of July 31, 1982, a bomb exploded in front of the party office of the social democratic PvdA. The Militant Autonomous Front (MAF) claimed responsibility for the attack. It was the second attack by the MAF that month. Earlier, they had detonated a bomb outside the gates of the GDH [3]. The damage was limited to broken windows and damaged doors. The action was linked to the ‘Luyk policy’ in a statement. The residents of the ‘Luyk’ were immediately besieged by journalists. They distanced themselves from the action and this caused a lot of bad blood in the city. There were more people who had a problem with the MAF actions, but this was discussed internally. Others see the MAF actions as a clear signal and a complement to other actions.

On October 11, 1982, the ‘Lucky Luyk’ was evicted. For the first time since the Second World War, a state of emergency was declared in Amsterdam. Since I lived in the neighborhood, some people came to the place where I lived and from there we moved in towards Van Baerlestreet. On the way there, some depots had been set up in the weeks before, and soon the first barricades were set on fire. We wanted to buy some time with the barricades to get to Van Baerlestraße without any problems. To our surprise, we even got to Jan Luykenstreet. The first wave of cops was driven back. We were continuously busy breaking up the street and the sidewalk to get new ammunition. Many vans were flipped over and more and more people were coming. At a certain point, thousands of people were involved in the clashes. It took a lot of time before the cops had Jan Luyken Street under control.

And even after that, the clashes continued. I had to drink a lot of water and rinse my eyes again and again. The tear gas and I were never friends. I stank of gasoline, was hungry, but still had a lot of energy. I was with a group of people who kept attacking the cops, but also knew when it was time to leave or to avoid certain points with a concentration of cops. There were actions everywhere. Several police stations were attacked. The riots continued into the early morning hours. I was less afraid than during the Pierson eviction. The absence of Leopard tanks played a role, but also the determination of the people around me. We helped each other with problems with tear gas or injuries. No one of the small group that started from our house in the morning hours was arrested. The state of emergency remained in force for three days. The cops used the opportunity to evict some other squats near the ‘luyk’. Ours was not among them.

Clashes after the eviction of the Lucky Luyk on October 11, 1982.

After the eviction, there were a lot of discussions. There were different positions. One part of the movement was of the opinion that further confrontations with the state were pointless. Another part wanted to continue on the chosen path. The initial cracks that had appeared during the reoccupation of “the Lucky Luyk” deepened after the eviction. A massive criminalization campaign took its course. Popular support waned, although some efforts were made to explain our side of the story. Among other things, a door-to-door newspaper with a circulation of 120,000 copies was distributed.

There were several reasons why there were people who opposed a more insurrectionary approach. Since the housing shortage was one of the biggest problems in Dutch society, many people simply wanted a place to live. A significant part of the squatters movement in Amsterdam was basically reformist. A reformist movement against housing shortage. This part of the squatter movement at that time wanted to negotiate with owners and city authorities. They tried to legalize several house projects and sometimes succeeded. Some of these legalized projects remained political projects, but many retreated behind their legalized walls. Another part was the autonomous part, which often considered the squatted buildings as a base for various political projects. Most people in the autonomous movement saw the struggle for housing as part of a broader struggle. A struggle to liberate society from all forms of domination and capitalism. These were the parts of the squatter movement that developed in different directions, especially after the eviction of the ‘Lucky Luyk’. Many people left after the eviction. I didn’t. I was just starting.


[1] Staats is an abbreviation for Staatsliedenbuurt, a district in Amsterdam.
[2] The Grachtengordel is the part of Amsterdam that lies within the canals (Grachten).
[3] Gemeentelijke Dienst Herhuisvesting (GHD) in Amsterdam. A municipal housing service that was responsible for the distribution of housing.
[4] Marechaussee. Military police under the authority of the Ministry of Defense.

Video playlist of all Housing struggle in the Netherlands documentaries

3 thoughts on “Housing struggle in the Netherlands: The battle for Lucky Luyk [Amsterdam 1981 – 1982]

  1. […] Housing struggle in the Netherlands: The battle for Lucky Luyk [Amsterdam 1981 – 1982] […]

  2. […] Housing struggle in the Netherlands: The battle for Lucky Luyk [Amsterdam 1981 – 1982] […]

  3. […] Housing struggle in the Netherlands: The battle for Lucky Luyk [Amsterdam 1981 – 1982] […]

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