Amsterdam destroys thousands of books by discredited city archaeologist

Amsterdam destroys thousands of books by discredited city archaeologist
Amsterdam destroys thousands of books by discredited city archaeologist

NOS Newsyesterday, 6:23 pm

More than 4000 copies of a book about archaeological finds in Amsterdam are destroyed. A spokesperson for the municipality of Amsterdam confirms this after reporting by NRC. The compiler of the book, Jerzy Gawronski, has been discredited, so the municipality considers it inappropriate to publish the book with a prominent mention of his name.

Last February, the municipality received reports about former city archaeologist Gawronski, after which an integrity investigation was started. Gawronski is the book’s compiler Under the Amstel, published on behalf of the municipality.

Following the results of the integrity investigation, the municipality has decided to destroy the first edition of the books with Gawronski’s name on the cover. In subsequent editions, which have yet to be printed, his name is omitted from the cover, title page, and from the introduction. Destroying the first edition will cost the municipality about 150,000 euros, according to NRC.

Gawronski says to NRC “I don’t understand the logic behind this decision”, but that he agreed “to save the book and face of the municipality”. The former city archaeologist says that the reports arose from the rancor of former colleagues. “Apparently they didn’t like my making this book.”

Unacceptable behavior

A spokesperson for the municipality tells NOS that, with a view to the privacy of those involved, it cannot say anything about the reports or the content of the investigation. NRC has spoken to those involved who say it is about cross-border behavior in the workplace – not sexual – by Gawronski. That would have happened during his time as head of the archaeological service of the municipality, where he worked from 2002 to 2020.

Het Parool writes – also based on conversations with those involved – about a culture of fear at the Monuments and Archeology Bureau in the time that Gawronski was head of it. According to them, Gawronski could explode from one moment to the next, also berating colleagues.

‘Decision not taken lightly’

The book Under the Amstel is a follow-up to the successful visual atlas about the more than 700,000 archaeological finds that surfaced during the construction of the North/South metro line. As a city archaeologist, Gawronski was closely involved in that book. In Under the Amstel a hundred stories are told on the basis of these archaeological finds. Gawronski compiled the book and wrote the introduction.

The investigation into the reports was completed last summer. Initially, it was decided to continue publication at the beginning of December, but after discussions with those involved and consultation with the publisher, it was decided to publish the book in a modified form. The municipality says “a prominent position of the former employee on behalf of the municipality of Amsterdam is not appropriate”. The spokesperson added that the decision was not taken lightly.

Amsterdam CDA councilor Diederik Boomsma says on Twitter that he finds it ridiculous that 150,000 euros of taxpayers’ money is being spent on the destruction of the books. Tomorrow he will ask questions about the matter to the college.

The NOS has not been able to reach Gawronski today.

The article is in Dutch

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