Amsterdam has 14 tram lines traversing the city, all numbered for easy identification. But though there are tram numbered 1 through 5, the number “8” is unlikely to ever be used against due to its involvement with the Holocaust.
The line was first established in 1905 and ran between Central Station and Weesperzijde, traversing many Jewish neighborhoods in the process. It actually became known among locals as the “Jodentram.” In 1942, the Nazi regime banned Jews from traveling via public transport, which cut the line’s ridership in half. On top of a staff shortage, there was no reason to keep the 8 line running so it was eliminated.
Only a week later the Nazis began deporting Jews en masse, transporting them along the former line 8 as well as numbers 7, 9, 16, and 24. This, combined with the discontinuation of the route, left a permanent mark on the name of tram line 8. In the 1990s Gemeente Vervoerbedrijf (GVB) tried to reuse the number for a tourist tram, but after a strong public outcry, switched it to number 20.
Today the former route has been reactivated, but under the number 4 instead. An old sign located inside the Amsterdam Museum mentions the deportations, leading to it becoming a symbol of how the Jewish people were persecuted and killed in the Holocaust.
Know Before You Go
To view the sign you must go to the World War II section of the Amsterdam Museum. The museum is a short walk west of Rokin, where the tram used to run up toward Central Station.