Amsterdam in the 1980’s, there was always something going on, not one day without some kind of action. The smell of revolt was in the air. There was an enormous housing shortage. The waiting time for an apartment was at least 10 years. They were mostly allocated through a distribution system of the city administration. Apartments on the “free” market were unaffordable. Young people either had to stay with their parents as adults, leave the city, or squat. At the peak of the Amsterdam squatter movement, about 22,000 people lived in squatted houses.
It all started with the conflict about the “Great Emporer”. The Great Emporer was a squat on the Keizergracht (Keizer is Dutch for emporer) in downtown Amsterdam. This is where the film starts. The Vondel squat was evicted and soon re-occupied. The cops had to retreat after a fierce battle with squatters. It was the first major miltant defense of a squat. After a couple of days mayor (Polak) called in the army. Leaflets were thrown out of a helicopter before the army tanks moved in to remove the barricades.
The text of the leaflet:
“All attempts to end the disturbances through negotiation have failed, therefore the police will start an action at short notice. The building will not be evicted. The police will be allowed to shoot in utmost cases. Stay inside the houses. The column, once in motion, cannot be stopped. Therefore, it is life-threatening to go out on the barricades.”
Here is the documentary: