Amsterdam. Netherlands. On October 16, 2021, several thousand people took the streets under the slogan “Amsterdam Dances For A Cause” (Amsterdam Danst Ergens Voor). During the protest against housing shortages and for free spaces, activists announced that the former Hotel Marnix on Marnixstraat 382. was squatted a few days earlier.
A statement by the squatters by the Take Back Mokum! collective:
Take Back Mokum!
Amsterdam is in crisis. Housing is unaffordable. People with low and middle incomes are being chased out of the city. There is no room for young people. The commercialization of the center has attracted masses of tourists who make the city unlivable, while property owners, investors and large companies enrich themselves endlessly. There is no room for alternative culture. Amsterdam is losing its soul.
We, the collective Take Back Mokum! (Dutch: Pak Mokum Terug!) are young Amsterdammers who have had enough. We no longer want to accept the trend that our city can only be inhabited by the rich. That economic and commercial interests are all-important. That we cannot shape our city, its culture, the way we live, ourselves. Therefore we claim the city, we claim the space for the people of Amsterdam, we take back Mokum.
That is why we are squatting the former Marnix Hotel and establish a new free space there: Hotel Mokum. The Marnix Hotel, vacant and seriously bedraggled for years, represents everything that has gone wrong in Amsterdam in recent years. The historic building is in the hands of foreign investors, has been used as a budget hotel to extract living space from the residents of Amsterdam for the sake of tourism, and for years has been so poorly maintained that it has become completely dilapidated. Now it is nothing more than an object for speculation, while for young people, workers, artists and people without property there is no longer a home to be found.
It is time for drastic measures to combat the housing crisis and preserve the soul of the city. Hotel Mokum will be a new cultural center for art, music, fun, activism, low-cost culture and freedom, and will also provide housing. Hotel Mokum is now open to anyone who shares our ideal that free spaces are indispensable for a living city: our ideal of an open, free and rebellious city that its inhabitants shape themselves. Because it is the people of Amsterdam who make Amsterdam, not the speculators and multinationals who profit from it economically.
We want to turn the tide. We believe that free spaces, rooted in the neighborhood, open to residents and their needs and initiatives, strengthen the city. We just can’t wait for the municipality to see that. We squat because the need is too high. We squat because we can no longer stand by while commercialization and gentrification tear the city apart. We squat because living is a right, not a privilege.
Hotel Mokum will be a place for the people of Amsterdam. Open and accessible, public and anti-commercial, where we will stage lively, original, surprising, disconcerting, combative, creative and innovative programs. Hotel Mokum is open: to local residents, interested parties, and fellow combatants.
Take back Mokum!
Check Hotel Mokum on Twitter for updates: here.
 Mokum (מקום) is the Yiddish word for “place” or “safe haven”. It is similar to the Hebrew word makom (מקום, “place”), from which it is derived. In Yiddish the names of some cities in the Netherlands and Germany were shortened to Mokum and had the first letter of the name of the city, transliterated into the Hebrew alphabet, added to them. Cities named this way were Amsterdam, Berlin, Delft, and Rotterdam.Mokum, without Aleph, is still commonly used as a nickname in the Netherlands for the city of Amsterdam. The nickname was first considered to be Bargoens, a form of Dutch slang, but in the 20th century it lost its negative sound and is now used by Amsterdamers as a nickname for their city in a sentimental context. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mokum