Carnegieplein 4, 2517 KJ, The Hague
The statue group ‘Conversation’ at the entrance of the NIBC Bank expresses the atmosphere of dialogue that is typical for The Hague. The reception room displays pictures and a commemoration book of the bombed Royal Art Gallery Kleykamp.
“No freedom for the States to do good or evil, but their deeds measured according to strict rules of justice and injustice – that is what Grotius believed with all his soul”
– Cornelis van Vollenhoven
The art collectors Pieter and Ermina Kleykamp settled in The Hague in 1909. The Art Gallery, first located in the Oranjestraat became a first rank centre of arts and literature. The exhibitions varied from Vincent van Gogh and the Hague School of painting to a world famous collection of Eastern Asian arts. In 1916 Kleykamp moved to the spacious villa The White House. The top floor housed the new International Intermediary Institute, created in January 1918 by the Leiden jurist Cornelis van Vollenhoven (1874-1933) as a private information service for the Peace Palace Library.
As great admirer of Hugo Grotius, Van Vollenhoven advocated the abolition of wars of aggression, putting forward the idea of an international police against ‘state crime’. In his proper field of study of Eastern law he opposed the ‘short-sighted arrogance of Western law’ in the Dutch-Indian colonies. Instead, the wide variety of Eastern and Islamic customary law (Adat) should be respected and incorporated into the international legal system.
In the end, Art Gallery Kleykamp became itself a victim of the German war of aggression. The villa was confiscated in 1941 by the occupying authorities, who used it as a Central Population Register. The highly effective administration system was instrumental for persecutions of Jews and arrests of resistance fighters with false identity cards. On the advice of Dutch resistance groups, the villa was finally destroyed on 11 April 1944 in a precision bombing by English ‘Mosquito’ airplanes. The high number of 61 casualties, mostly common citizens, has remained a war trauma in the history of The Hague.
Today, Van Vollenhoven’s idea of punishing state crimes like wars of aggression has partly been realised by the creation of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, operational in The Hague since 2002 (Maanweg 174). The court is working with the United Nations and a worldwide coalition of civil society organisations. A nearby example (Laan Copes van Cattenburch 62) is the initiative ‘Walk of Truth’, where artists work for the protection of cultural treasures against crime and war, and the promotion of a transnational culture of peace.