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The Myth of the Peace Palace

Shortly after the building of the Peace Palace in 1913 there came reports of a shadow that was seen on the roof and in the gardens of the Peace Palace. Several people claimed to have seen a black shadow around midnight, moving quickly across the roof of the Peace Palace. The case even made the newspapers when one of the ‘ghosthunters’ claimed to have made a photograph of the shadow. This photograph made it to the headlines of several papers and for some time the Peace Palace and it’s mysterious shadow were famous. Countless people from across the country came to The Hague to try to photograph ‘The Shadow of the Hague’. All of this took place in the same time as the hype of the Loch Ness monster, what helps to explain some of the public interest. For some time it looked like The Hague had a myth of Loch Ness-like proportions, but the outbreak of World War I soon reduced the general interest in The Shadow. Still, The Shadow is an important part of The Hague tradition. The fact that the Peace Palace is open for public only on a few days a year, causes rumors that fishy things are going on inside. Several theories exist about The Shadow. The most common was that The Shadow was the ghost of a builder who fell down while working. He was startled by a flapping dove and slipped. It was said that he crawled on the roof to hunt doves and other pultry. This would explain why there are no birds on the Peace Palace. Another explanation was that an escaped panther had found shelter in the garden of the Peace Palace. The supporters of this theory pointed out that this was the only logical explanation for the absence of birds on and around the Peace Palace, but also the mysterious disappearance of some visitors of the gardens. A theory which was popular shortly after the outbreak of World War I, was that the shadow was an omen of the coming war, which frightened away the doves, the traditional symbol of peace. Today the generally believed theory is that the Shadow was an fabrication of the The Hague shop owners to stimulate their declining sales. A somewhat far fetched theory is that German spies spread rumors about a shadow around the Peace Palace to undermine the efforts which were made in the Peace Palace to preserve the worldpeace.


(ORIGINAL DUTCH VERSION )

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Photo's In Your Living Room #13 // Simon Oosterhuis // Malyssa ten Hove