This phrase has a few variations depending on where the chaos actually is 🙂 and translations may vary, see the examples.
Now, what is a "gekkenhuis" anyway? It’s the colloquial word for "mental asylum", literally meaning "house of nutters/madmen" or "madhouse".
So the phrase basically says that a situation or process is like one
would expect to occur in a "gekkenhuis". Not the most politically
correct you might think, but nevertheless very common in everyday
Sometimes the phrase is abbreviated to just the word "gekkenhuis", an example of which can be found below (or in this car commercial that appeared on Dutch television a few years ago showing two sloths discussing the capabilities of a car).
– "Op Koninginnedag is heel Amsterdam een gekkenhuis!"
("On Queen’s Day it’s total chaos in the entire city of Amsterdam.")
– "Ik was gisteren op het strand in Scheveningen. Gekkenhuis!"
("Yesterday I was at the beach in Scheveningen. It was complete chaos!")
– "Ze sluiten de binnenstad af voor alle autoverkeer!" – "Echt? Gekkenhuis…"
("They are closing off the city centre for all motor/car traffic!" – "Really? Insane…"
– "Het is een gekkenhuis. Een gekkenhuis."
("It’s a madhouse. A madhouse." Charlton Heston in ‘Planet of the Apes‘.)