Netherlands

History

The Netherlands was invaded by Germany on 10 May 1940. The Dutch army surrendered four days later, and Queen Wilhelmina fled to Great Britain, where she set up a government-in-exile. The heads of the government ministries stayed behind, forming a substitute cabinet. Hitler soon ordered the establishment of a German civil administration, led by Reich Commissioner Arthur Seyss-Inquart. The Allies entered the south of the country in the autumn of 1944; the north was liberated more than six months later, in the spring of 1945.

At the start of the occupation, the Netherlands had a total population of about 9 million inhabitants. About 160,000 of them were Jewish, roughly half of which lived in Amsterdam. Some 22,000, including 15,000 refugees from Germany and Austria, were of foreign nationality. In the autumn of 1940, a series of anti-Jewish measures began. In mid-February 1941, the German occupier set up a Jewish Council (Joodse Raad). On 25 February 1941, a general strike broke out to protest against the German occupier. In January 1942 the Germans opened forced labour camps, and charged the Joodse Raad with finding workers to fill ever-increasing labour quotas. The same month they began removing the Jews from the provinces and concentrating them in Amsterdam. In March, the German administration started confiscating Jewish property. A month later the Jews were ordered to wear the yellow Star of David. Deportations began in mid-July 1942 and lasted through September 1944. Jews were taken to the transit camps Westerbork and Vught, and from there mostly to Auschwitz. While some 25,000 Dutch Jews managed to go into hiding after being ordered to report for forced labour or deportation, about one-third of them were eventually discovered by the Germans. All in all, less than 25 percent of Dutch Jewry survived the Holocaust.

Archival Situation

According to the Dutch Public Records Act (1995), public archives are divided into State (Rijks), Communal (Gemeentelijke) and Regional (waterschaps) archival repositories. The National Archive (Nationaal Archief) is the central repository for archives transferred from national government bodies. The National Archivist is the head of the State Archive Service (Rijksarchiefdienst) and the Dutch National Archive. In addition to the National Archives in The Hague, there are ten State Archives in the other provincial capitals, which were transformed (often after a merger with the city archives) into Regional Historical Centres (Regionaal Historische Centra) between 1998 and 2005. In addition to the state archives, there are collections in private archives and museums.

EHRI Research (Summary)

In the Netherlands, EHRI has identified 161 repositories, and described 98 Holocaust-relevant collections, most of them at NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, but also at the Amsterdam City Archives. Furthermore, EHRI identified a number of Holocaust-relevant research tools, including important online resources, but also traditional archival guides. For a full list, see the extensive report.

NIOD was founded immediately after the war under the name of National Institute for War Documentation (Rijksinstituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie, RIOD), under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Culture & Science. In 1999 it was placed under the authority of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). It holds important Holocaust collections, such as the archives of the German occupational administration, of the Joodse Raad and of several camps (especially Westerbork). Apart from official documentation, NIOD’s collection also includes private sources, such as journals, correspondence and pictures. A joint effort of the National Archive and NIOD led to the creation of a website on Dutch WWII archival sources, Wegwijzer Archieven WOII. A thematic query on “persecution of the Jews” (“Jodenvervolging”) leads to 773 archival collections in 142 archival institutions. These cover a broad variety of institutions, national as well as local and specialised institutions. There are also private archives and documentation centres, such as the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, which hold important Holocaust-related collections.

EHRI Research (Extensive)

A. EHRI approach to Netherlands: Pre-existing research and archival guides, expert support

In the Netherlands, EHRI’s exploration of Holocaust-relevant archival sources could rely on important pre-existing research in the field, such as Bob Moore’s “Victims and survivors: the Nazi persecution of the Jews in the Netherlands, 1940-1945” (1997) which had already made extensive use of archival sources kept both in the Netherlands and a number of other countries.

Many institutions have made information about their collections available online in recent years. The national “Heritage of War Programme” (2005-2009) intended to preserve the memories about the war for future generations, provided EHRI with a solid starting point. EHRI did not send a survey team to the Netherlands to identify sources. Existing descriptions have been taken from the database behind the website on Dutch WWII archival sources. In a few cases more detailed descriptions have been taken directly from the institutions themselves, such as NIOD and the Amsterdam City Archives.

EHRI was able to identify a number of helpful archival guides, both online and offline:

Unifies information on archives and collections on National-Socialism and the Second World War concerning the Netherlands, the Dutch East Indies, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. The site, which is available in Dutch only, does not display archival documents, but is meant as a search tool to locate archives and collections.

Offers a survey of archives and collections of the German camps that existed in the Netherlands during the Second World War (Amersfoort, Vught, Westerbork, Schoorl en Ommen). The site, which is available in Dutch and English, is an initiative of the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in collaboration with several other institutions (War Aftercare Department of the Netherlands Red Cross; Eemland Archive; Brabant Historical Information Centre (BHIC); Drenthe Archive; Midden-Drenthe Municipality Archive; Memorial Centre Camp Westerbork; National Monument Camp Amersfoort; National Monument Camp Vught; Regional Archive Alkmaar).

Unifies information on archives and collections from organizations involved in tracing, repatriation and sheltering victims the Second World War after the war. The site is available in Dutch only.

A database bringing together all images of the Second World War in the collections of Dutch war and resistance museums, commemoration centres and NIOD. Anyone can view and order the images.

The following traditional archival guides identified by EHRI deserve to be mentioned:

  • [1998] J.M.L. van Bockxmeer, P.C.A. Lamboo en H.A.J. van Schie, Onderzoeksgids Joodse oorlogsgetroffenen; overzicht van archieven met gegevens over roof, recuperatie, rechtsherstel en schadevergoeding van vermogens van Joden in Nederland in de periode 1940-1987 (Den Haag: Algemeen Rijksarchief, 1998).
  • [1994] Erik Somers and Mark Pier, Archievengids van de Tweede Wereldoorlogs. Nederland en Nederlands-Indië (Zuthpen: Walburg Instituut, Rijksinstituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie, 1994),
  • [1989] Atie van der Horst, Elly Koen, Guide to the International Archives and Collections at the IISH, Amsterdam (Amsterdam: International Institute of Social History, 1989).

B. Characteristics of the Dutch archival system and specific challenges

According to the Dutch Public Records Act (1995), public archives are divided into State (Rijks), Communal (Gemeentelijke) and Regional (waterschaps) archival repositories. The National Archives (Nationaal Archief) are the central repository for archives transferred from national government bodies. The National Archivist is the head of the State Archive Service (Rijksarchiefdienst) and the Dutch National Archives. Besides the National Archives in The Hague, there are ten State Archives in the other provincial capitals, which were transformed (often after a merger with the city archives) into Regional Historical Centres (Regionaal Historische Centra) between 1998 and 2005. In addition to the state archives, there are collections in private archives and museums. A working knowledge of Dutch is necessary for any kind of archival research in the Netherlands, even though documents in other languages (German, English and French) can also be found with the help of the local archival staff.

C. EHRI identification and description results on the Netherlands

C.I. In the Netherlands

A considerable number of Holocaust-related sources and collections were created in the Netherlands and can still be found in the country’s archives today. NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies holds important Holocaust collections. A joint effort of the National Archives and NIOD led to the creation of a website on Dutch WWII archival sources. A thematic query on “persecution of the Jews” leads to 773 archival collections in 142 archival institutions. These cover a broad variety of institutions, national as well as local and specialised institutions. There are also private archives and documentation centres, such as the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, which hold important Holocaust-related collections.

EHRI identified 161 repositories in the Netherlands and is able to provide descriptions of 784 Holocaust-relevant collections, most of which can be found at NIOD and at the Amsterdam City Archives.

C.II. In other countries

EHRI has identified and partially described archival institutions and/or collections outside of the Netherlands that are relevant to Holocaust research on the Netherlands. In Germany and Israel, the International Tracing Service and Yad Vashem hold significant documentation and a huge quantity of sources pertaining to Jewish individuals and/or groups during the Holocaust period.