Mayors Of Arnhem Then And Now

In this blog, we’ll tell you about Arnhems previous mayors, the ones that stood out and the mayor we have today.
You’ll be surprised about some fun facts and will know some trivia to share with your friends.

Current Arnhem Mayor Ahmed Marcouch

Our current mayor, Ahmed Marcouch is number 22 on the ‘mayor list’. He took office on September 1st 2017 for a 6-year term.
This made the national news quite a few times, this because mister Marcouch was born in Marokko and not everyone was happy with a ‘foreign’ Mayor.
PVV chairman Geert Wilders even came to Arnhem to protest against Marcouch becoming a mayor. He even made a banner that said: “No Arnhemmistan, we are losing our country!” (video on the bottom of this blog).

The city of Arnhem places a job opening for the mayoralty and 21 people responded. Marcouch was chosen out of the bunch. The PvdA’er was a member of the House of Representatives of the States General from 2010 to 2017. Before that, between 2006 to 2010 he was chairman of the Slotervaart district in Amsterdam.

So far, in my opinion, the new mayor does a good job. He is very approachable and social. He accepted anyone to become his Facebook friend and live streams loads of events that he attends. A modern, 2.0. mayor!
Photo taken from Ahmed Marcouch’s Facebook page.

Mayors of Arnhem
Mayor Ahmed Marcouch


Mayors of Arnhem
Me with the mayor… sort of 😉

Arnhems 1st Mayor: Mr. A.A. Gaymans

In 1813 Arnhem go it’s 1st mayor: Mr. A.A. Gaymans. He is responsible for the Arnhem coat of arms.
The coat of arms is blue in colour with a silver double-headed eagle on pictured it. The jaws and claws are all gold in colour. The crown is gold and consists of five leaves. The shield is held by two standing lions.
Seals from 1281 and subsequent centuries already show double eagles; in the 17th century, the eagle comes to stand on a shield. Possibly the weapon is derived from the coat of arms of the Van Arnhem family. The family has held various high positions at the court of various emperors and also in the council of the city of Arnhem. The current weapon was on April 26, 1815, by the then mayor of Arnhem, Mr. A.A. Gaymans, applied for. The application was made by sending a draft drawing to the High Council of Nobility; that drawing is still included in the archive. The design was taken over without change by the High Council of Nobility.

Mayors of Arnhem
Arnhem coat of arms


Mayor Lawick van Pabst

Jonkheer Diderik Lawick van Pabst (Mayor from 1884-1899) was a 19th-century mayor, who is more or less characteristic of the mayors of his time: noble, liberal, monarchy and badly constructed. During his reign, the municipality drastically remedied the rot in the district Klarendal. Van Lawick was the driver of ‘the progress with quiet consultation’.

Mayors of Arnhem
Mayor van Lawick van Pabst van Nijevelt 1884 – 1899

Mayors of Arnhem
Mayor baron Sweerts de Landas Wyborgh 1899 – 1904
Mayor baron Röell 1904 – 1910

Mayor Baron van Heemstra

In 1910, baron van Heemstra was appointed mayor of Arnhem. The baron and his family already lived in the eighteenth-century country house ‘Zijpendaal’, just outside the capital of Gelderland. Here the mayor resided as befits a true aristocrat, with riding on the beautifully landscaped estate and organizing soirées dansantes, who enjoyed fame with the local elite. During his ten-year tenure, Van Heemstra managed to achieve that the Nederlandsche Heidemaatschappij preferred Arnhem as a business location, the Nederlandsch Openluchtmuseum (Netherlands Open Air Museum) could open its doors in 1912, and affordable public housing could be built in the city.

Mayor van Heemstra was also the grandfather of actress Audrey Hepburn.
After Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939, Hepburn’s mother relocated her daughter back to Arnhem in the hope that, as during the First World War, the Netherlands would remain neutral and be spared a German attack. While there, Hepburn attended the Arnhem Conservatory from 1939 to 1945. She had begun taking ballet lessons during her last years at boarding school, and continued training in Arnhem under the tutelage of Winja Marova, becoming her “star pupil”. After the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Hepburn used the name Edda van Heemstra, because an “English-sounding” name was considered dangerous during the German occupation. Her family was profoundly affected by the occupation, with Hepburn later stating that “had we known that we were going to be occupied for five years, we might have all shot ourselves. We thought it might be over next week … six months … next year … that’s how we got through”. (source: Wikipedia.)

Audrey made her TV debut in 1949 in the movie ‘Sause Tartar’ and later starred in ‘Roman Holiday‘ (1953) and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s‘ (1961) becoming one of Hollywoods most important leading ladies.
In 1989, Hepburn was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF. A job she took great pride in. Audrey died in 1993 of cancer at the age of only 63 years old.

Mayor De Geer

Mayor Dirk Jan de Geer was a mayor for only one year (1920-1921) because he became Minister of Home Affairs. De Geer was in favor of abstemious and austerity. Later the Dutch reviled him because of his behaviour during the German occupation.

Mayor De Geer 1920-1921
Mayor De Geer 1920-1921.

Mayor De Monchy

In 1921 (till 1934) De Monchy became mayor of Arnhem. In 1930 András Cseh gave an Esperanto (a world language that is only spoken by a few million people to date) courses in Arnhem, making De Monchy very fascinated about this language. He decided to become an Esperantist. He had the Arnhems Esperanto house built on the outskirts of the city. In the spring of 1931 the building was opened by him with a speech in Esperanto and a lottery in which six modern cars were the main prizes.
The villa can no longer be found in this location. It now is the Heemtuin at Park Presikhaaf.


Mayor De Monchy 1921-1934
Mayor De Monchy 1921-1934.


Mayor Bloemers

On September 1st 1934 Mr Bloemers became mayor of Arnhem. Health reasons played an important role in his decision to return to Gelderland, Bloemers expressed his lof for the region in an interview: “I am a Gelderschman and the beautiful Gelderland and Arnhem have a special place my heart”. He, therefore, did not respond to the call to become Minister for Social Affairs in 1939.
During the Second World War, Bloemers stayed on as mayor, with the aim of preventing the post from being taken over by an NSB member. For his function, Bloemers had contact with the resistance and in this way managed to save people’s lives. In July 1944, Bloemers was still fired and exiled from Gelderland because of his refusal to cooperate with the Labor Deployment.

Mayor Matser

Chris Matser is the first post-war Mayor of Arnhem. Were Lawick van Pabst and De Geer were Royal, Matser was a bricklayer’s son. He went into history as the mayor in short-sleeved shirts that cleared the reconstruction of Arnhem, as the first ‘people’s Mayor of the Netherlands’ and helpt rebuild Arnhem.


Mayor Matser 1945-1969
Mayor Matser 1945-1969.


Mayor Krikken

Pauline Krikke is the only female in the ‘Mayors of Arnhem’ list. She became Mayor in 2001 and even was reelected. She didn’t fancy a third term, in 2013 Krikke dropped her Mayor duties. Her home was in the Spijkerkwartier area which at the time was not the most desirable area one could think of in Arnhem. She wanted to live among the working class people end from time to time even took in a homeless person for the night.

She is responsible for the closing of the red light district in the Spijkerkwartier area in 2006. Currently, Pauline Krikke is Mayor of The Hague.

Mayor Krikke 2001-2013
Mayor Krikke 2001-2013

Mayor Kaiser

The seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem in 2014 is undoubtedly the highlight of his Arnhem mayoralty. Together with the city of Arnhem and a specially formed committee mayor Kaiser set up an annual national commemoration concert called ‘The Bridge to Liberation’ that attracts many people to the city and seems to grow bigger every year.

Due to the long sick leave of Kaiser, Boele Staal (the man in the list with the toughest last name ‘staal=steel) was appointed acting mayor of Arnhem in October 2016. On February 13, 2017, Kaiser informed the city council that he will not return to his position and so the search started for a new mayor. A job offer was set out and anyone could apply for the job.
In the job offer, the monthly salary was mentioned: € 10.520,48 gross. Not bad!
21 People applied for the job, only one of them was a woman.


Mayor Kaiser 2013-2017
Mayor Kaiser 2013-2017.
Acting Mayor Staal 2016-2017
Acting Mayor Staal 2016-2017


So now it is up to mayor Marcouch to make Arnhem shine. In his installation speech the new mayor told the people of Arnhem he wants to be a mayor to everyone:
young and old,
poor and rich,
educated and illiterate,
straight and gay,
war survivor and veteran.

Sources: Wikipedia, Gelderlander and Arnhem Direct.
Foto’s: Wikipedia and Gelderlander.
List of all the Mayors in Arnhem.

Other blogs you may find interesting: Info about the History of Arnhem.

Streets Named After Arnhem Mayors

Van Pallandtstraat J.J.A.A. Baron van Pallandt, Mayor to Arnhem between 1841-1872.

Pels Rijckenstraat F.M.C. Pels Rijcken, Mayor to Arnhem between 1872-1884.

Van Lawick van Pabststraat Jhr. D.J.A.A. van Lawick van Pabst van Nijevelt, Mayor to Arnhem between 1884-1899.

Röellstraat Mr. dr. A. (Antonie) baron Röell 1904-1910.

Van Heemstralaan A.J.A.A. (Aarnoud) baron van Heemstra 1910-1920.

De Monchyplein Mr. dr. S.J.R. (Salomon Jean René) de Monchy 1921-1934.

Burgemeester Bloemersweg mr. Henri Petrus Johannus Bloemers 1934-1944.

Burgemeester Matsersingel C.G. (Chris) Matser 1945-1969.

Did we miss any? Please let us know!

Who were the previous mayors of Arnhem and who holds the key to the city now? Find out in this blog.