Resistance fighter Anda Kerkhoven lives on in new UMCG education centre

The UMCG’s new education centre will be named the Anda Kerkhoven Centre (AKC), after the UG medical student who was executed by the German occupying forces for being part of the resistance during the Second World War.

The UG and the UMCG announced the name on Friday at the location of the new building: the north side of the UMCG property. The new building will house the Faculty of Medical Sciences (FMS) and the pharmacy department from the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE).


The name was picked from one hundred suggestions. Melisande Tatiana Marie (Anda) Kerkhoven came to Groningen from the Dutch East Indies in 1938 to study medicine. The UG gave her an exemption on doing vivisection: she was a vegetarian and a pacifist and refused to kill animals.

She wrote about her aversion to violence in student weekly Der Clercke Cronike: ‘No tyrant will be able to subdue me, make me obey him or commit moral suicide by using combat methods I detest against either him or his slaves.’

She was referring to the threat that Nazi Germany posed at the time. The current war in Ukraine made jury chair and FMS dean Gerda Croiset realise how relevant Kerkhoven’s words still are today. ‘However, back in December, when we picked the name, we didn’t know that’, she says.


During the Second World War, Anda was part of a pacifist resistance group for two years. One of her jobs was forging and distributing food stamps. She was arrested in late 1944. For months, she was kept at the infamous Scholtenhuis and tortured by the infamous Sicherheitsdienst and Sicherheitspolizei. Even though she never said a word, her entire group was ultimately arrested.

She was executed twenty days before the war ended, seventy-seven years ago this past Saturday. She would have been 103 on April 10.


There’s a commemorative plate in front of her student house in de Ranitzstraat, as well as one where she was murdered, in the Appelbergen in Glimmen. Her name is also engraved on a plaque at the Academy building commemorating the people who died during the Second World War.

Anda had Asian features due to her grandmother being Chinese, and she’s been immortalised in paintings by De Ploeg artist Johan Dijkstra and his students. The Academy building features a stained-glass window depicting her next to Aletta Jacobs.

The new building will also include an as yet to be determined art piece to commemorate her.

12,000 square metres

The auditorium in the new building. Impression: Filippo Bolognese Images

The Anda Kerkhoven Centre will consist of a tower with classrooms and a foyer with study spaces and a food court. The entire complex will comprise 12,000 square metres. The foyer will have a green roof and the building’s energy will be supplied by solar panels and cogeneration.

The building is part of a new campus which will also include the new construction of the University College Groningen and an existing building being renovated to house a Health Data Centre and the Usva. ‘We want the area to buzz with people’, says UG board member Hans Biemans.


The name being revealed. UG board member Hans Biemans in the middle. Photo: Imazzo

The preparations for the new building have been underway for several months. The old Antonius Deusinglaan has been removed and sheet piling has been put in. This, as well as cleaning out old sewer pipes made a lot of noise, but it won’t be the last time, warns UG property management department VGI.

The construction noise can also impact research being done at Eriba, the research institute next door. People in the surrounding buildings will therefore be warned beforehand if the construction workers think they’ll be making a lot of noise.

The AKC is scheduled to be finished by late 2023.

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