Amsterdam is going to destroy four thousand books by former city archaeologist Jerzy Gawronski. This was decided by the municipality after an investigation into transgressive behavior in the workplace. Although the results of the investigation are not shared, employees speak of a ‘terror regime’.
Jerzy Gawronski was head of the Monuments and Archeology Bureau (BMA) for more than fifteen years. At the beginning of last year, the municipality launched an investigation due to transgressive behavior in the workplace by the former city archaeologist. The municipality does not want to share the results of the investigation, but it has been decided to publish his book Under the Amstel to destroy archaeological finds.
Involved with whom The parole said that under Gawronski there was a culture of fear at the BMA for years. The (former) employees talk about a creepy time when you never knew where you stood. According to them, Gawronski was often engaging and charming, but could also explode in the workplace from one moment to the next. Then he started shouting and cursing colleagues.
It led to several employees coming home sick and years later still suffering from what they call a ‘terror regime’. A former colleague of Gawronski confirms the picture about the well-known city archaeologist. He regularly heard stories from employees who felt threatened by him. About forty people work in the Monuments and Archeology department.
Hand over head
According to a former employee, it seems that the municipality has kept Gawronski’s hand above its head for a long time. There was the impression that he was of great value to the department, because he had managed to put the city’s archeology on the map. Partly thanks to Gawronski, Amsterdam reached ‘Champions League level’ in archaeology. As a result, he could go about his business more or less unhindered and he became increasingly important.
Only at the beginning of 2022 did the Integrity Bureau receive official reports about him, after which an investigation was carried out on behalf of municipal clerk Peter Teesink. Femke Halsema was also aware of this. The report followed in the summer of 2022. Only then did Teesink talk to employees about the publication of the book.
The book was to be presented in Arti at the beginning of December. Former employees said they were surprised that Teesink and Halsema did not immediately come to the conclusion themselves to stop this ‘celebratory opening’. Those involved also said that Gawronski used information from the entire department, while only his name was on the cover. It was only after these complaints that it was decided not to publish the book the day before the presentation, after which De Harmonie publishers were contacted.
The entire run of the 4,000 books will be destroyed and the publication of the revised edition is now scheduled for early May, but Gawronski will no longer be in ‘a prominent position’. According to a spokesperson, this is ‘not appropriate’ given the results of the investigation and the discussions with those involved. It will cost the city about $150,000.
The case came to light in 2019 due to an incident with an employee who no longer accepted the archaeologist’s behavior and came home sick. Then employees who work under Teesink were informed to make arrangements with Gawronski. Not much later, Gawronski was transferred to another department, the innovation team. A spokesperson says Teesink was only involved in 2022.
The transfer took place a year and a half before his retirement. Employees say they feel that Gawronski was ‘parked’ elsewhere to serve his time, but they were especially relieved that they were no longer directly involved with him. After his transfer, Gawronski continued to visit a BMA workplace on the Marineterrein. He was asked several times to stay out of there and to hand over the keys to the property, but Gawronski refused. In the end, the employees had the locks of the workplace replaced themselves.
The municipality is aware of this, but does not want to comment on it. However, the spokesperson says that the city archaeologist made the agreements that were insufficient. “In 2022 it turned out that those agreements were insufficient and formal reports were still made to the Integrity Office.”
The publisher refrains from comment. Gawronski would only respond in writing. He writes that he is happy that his book will still be published in an adapted version. The book has thus been saved. Fortunately, because destroying a book in and through Amsterdam is of course not possible.’
Gawronski does not want to comment on the matter itself, but indicates that he assumed that the complaints about him had been dealt with. ‘Apparently it was necessary to rekindle those complaints. I want to emphasize that integrity issues should always be handled seriously and with care, so I am not trivializing the matter in any way. I just think it’s a pity and a shame that this book is the subject of a personnel issue.’
The municipality of Amsterdam does not want to say anything about the content of the reports and the investigation due to the privacy of those involved. However, a spokesperson says that the choice to have the book adapted was ‘not taken lightly’. Council member Diederik Boomsma (CDA) will ask oral questions to the council on the matter on Wednesday.