Hubertus Salomon Hordijk, the former army captain known as “Steel Bart”, spent a decade in the 1900s as Amsterdam’s autocratic Chief of Police. All that time he was taking photos.
Not the most likely canditate for artistic photographer, Hubertus Salomon Hordijk (1862-1930) kept his passion to himself for a decade. No-one was going to argue. He was the police chief.
On April 22 1903 and by Royal decree an infantry captain by the name of Hubertus Salomon Hordijk succeeded the outgoing Amsterdam police commissioner to the top job.
Hordijk, who was known to his troops as “Steel Bart” due to his strict demeanor and appearance came to the notice of those who select potential police chiefs by using troops to maintain order during the widespread railway strikes earlier in 1903. As Chief of Police, Hordijk behaved completely autonomously, arranging and deciding as much as possible himself. He had little or no contact police on the beat or with the police unions. He also avoided the press as much as possible which caused a certain degree of animosity. In 1907, he was unable to work for several months due to a nervous disorder, at which the press wrote that “Steel Bart” had apparently lost his nerves of steel.
Hordijk had controversial opinions and his mouth got him in trouble. In 1908, as the Chief of Police in Amsterdam he automatically became the director of the National Office for the Suppression of the Trafficking in Women and Girls. Then, in 1909 he misguidedly warned the female population of the Netherlands against the Mormon religion. His broadside addressed in particular those who were considering settling in America; probably because of the risk of becoming involved in the perceived sexual slavery of a polygamous relationship. This incurred massive objections on the grounds of freedom of religion and that the case for Mormons being involved with the trafficking of women was far from proved.
Hordijk was a keen photographer and he took endless images of all kinds of events that he had privileged access to; crime scenes, state visits, criminals, fires, police procedures, the visits to Amsterdam of foreign dignitaries, Royal events; it wasn’t part of his job, just something the Chief of Police wanted to do.
Hordijk was Chief of Police in Amsterdam for a decade. From 1903 to 1913 when he resigned due to his nervous disorder. During that decade he filled five huge albums with photographs which now sit in the Amsterdam Municipal Archives.