Expats in Amsterdam told to 'f**k off back home' amid row over nighttime bell ringing

Expats in Amsterdam told to 'f**k off back home' amid row over nighttime bell ringing

A German nursery named after Anne Frank, who lived next to the Westerkerk, faced backlash over a proposed name change

GB News
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 24/01/2024

- 09:10

Updated: 24/01/2024

- 11:00

Locals described the letter-writers as ‘stupid yuppies’

A pair of expats in Amsterdam have been condemned on social media after circulating a letter to locals attempting to silence a historic church’s bells.

The letter, shared online by Dutch columnist Richard van de Crommert, says the couple had asked the city if “bells could stop at night in order to guarantee a better sleep”.

The note appears to be written in American English, and states that city authorities had considered their request but would need “more complaints to make a change”.

The couple called on neighbours to “send a message to the City of Amsterdam explaining your concern… so that we could all enjoy the beauty of the cathedral without the inconvenience of noise.”

A picture of a letter to the City of Amsterdam

The note, containing the word 'neighbor' appears to be written in American English


The letter has prompted fury among ‘Amsterdammers’ on social media; some called the pair “stupid yuppies”, while others told them to “f**k off back home”.

The letter’s author said the reaction shocked her beyond belief as she hadn’t realised how sensitive locals would be to her suggestions for the Westerkerk – not least because she described the Protestant church as a cathedral.

One furious call for her to “learn proper Dutch first” really rankled the writer – “But I learn Dutch. I do my best and love the city. What should I do now, move?” she said to Dutch paper De Telegraaf.

This episode isn’t the first time the Westerkerk – specifically, its tower, the Westertoren, has drawn ire from new arrivals to the Dutch capital.


The Westerkerk

Amsterdam's Westerkerk, whose iconic belltower, the Westertoren, is under fire


In 2019, one expat called for the silencing of the bells in the Westertoren between midnight and 6am for the benefit of his sleep, while a similar request ten years prior sparked a similar reaction to today’s.

And these expats aren’t the only ones to be directed away from the Dutch capital; an official campaign from the city’s authorities last year urged ‘lads on tour’ to look elsewhere as Amsterdam looks to shed its reputation as a party town.

Davey Bindervoet, a singer from Amsterdam, praised the church bells as a fixture of the city, and lamented how “so much is already destroyed” in the historic capital.

Bindervoet has even written a song in protest of the letter, but has admitted his sympathy for its writer’s frosty Dutch reception; he told De Telegraaf she was only asking people to lodge a complaint, but “Amsterdammers simply wear their heart on their sleeves”.
A composite image of the Westerkerk with the expats' letter

The Westerkerk, a fixture of the Amsterdam skyline, is at the centre of this social media storm


He continued: “They can be rude sometimes, but in the end, there’s always talk – as long as the Wester’s bells keep ringing!”

The 400-year-old Westerkerk, where Dutch Golden Age painter Rembrandt is buried, is currently undergoing a restoration project which should see completion by the middle of this year.

It’s a fixture of the Amsterdam skyline, and sits on the edge of one of the city’s oldest ring of canals, next to the Anne Frank House.

Westerkerk’s belltower features prominently in Frank’s diary – she wrote of how she could see it from the attic in which she hid from Nazi occupiers, and took comfort from its chimes.

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