Dutch Museum of Resistance

by Tanja
Dutch museum of resistance

There are 3 museums in Amsterdam dedicated to the Second World War. All these museums are located in the Amsterdam Jewish Quarter. They are the Jewish History Museum (located in a former synagogue), the Hollandse Schouwburg (Holland Theatre, where the Jews were rounded up before being deported) and the Verzetsmuseum, the Dutch museum of resistance.

The Dutch museum of resistance is not only about the genocide, but shows how life went on in the period 1940 – 1945, when The Netherlands was occupied by the German Nazi forces. The museum also tells the story of the events during the war in the former Dutch colony of Indonesia, when Japanese troops conquered the Dutch East Indies.

Till April 3 2016 there is a special exhibition about the Dutch propaganda during the independence war of former Dutch colony of Indonesia (1945 – 1949).

The Museum of Resistance (Verzetsmuseum)

Dutch museum of resistance

Sending potatoes by mail during the Hunger Winter (1944-1945)

The exhibition at the Amsterdam Museum of Resistance (in Dutch and English language) tells the story of the war in a chronological order, thereby making it easier to understand the events that followed after the Nazis came to rule German under Hitler in the 1930’s.

The crisis years of the 1930s, the shock of the invasion, the anti-jewish measure, the famous February strike of 1941, initiated by the socialist party and hard striking down of the actions by the Nazis.

As the name says, the museum tells a great deal of  the ‘normal’ Dutch life during the Second World war. Personal photos, films, documents and objects show how the Dutch reacted during the Second World War and what dilemmas they were faced with.

Amsterdam resistance in WWII

Some people actively resisted: they helped Jewish people (like Anne Frank) hide in their houses, started underground newspapers (Het Parool, Amsterdam’s newspaper started as an underground paper), did espionage or formed an armed resistance group. Others just tried to survive. Others collaborated with the nazis.

The Dutch colony of Indonesia

Another section of the Verzetsmuseum tells another story: that of the former Dutch colony of Indonesia, then named the Dutch East Indies. In January 1942, the colony was invaded by Japan.

The Japanese camps

The Dutch population was sent to special camps as either a prisoner of war or (for many women and children) to the special Japanese camps  (‘Jappenkamp’) for women and children. The regime in the Japanese camps in Indonesia was notoriously sadistic. Men were forced on so called ‘death marches’ and to build the Birma railroad. Many Dutch women were forced to be sex slaves for the Japanese army. Millions of Indonesians died during the war and thousands of Dutch died in the camps by lack of food, water and medicine and the spreading of infections disease.

Colonial War: Desired image/undesired image

Amsterdam verzetsmuseum

Desired image: Indonesians cheering on the Dutch army.

Until April 3, 2016, there is a special exhibition about the events in the Dutch East-Indies that went on after the Japanese had left.

After the war, The Netherlands did want to give the colony back to the Indonesians.  When Soekarna announced the independent republic of Indonesia in 1945, the Dutch sent an army of 100.000 men to fight the ‘rebels’ in ‘their’ country.

At the home front, the actions of the Dutch army were called ‘politionele acties’, and never portraid as a military action.

Propaganda during the Colonial War

Dutch museum of resistance

Undesired image: Dutch soldiers with detained, injured and slain Indonesians.

The exhibition Colonial War 1945-1949 Desired image – Undesired image at the Verzetsmuseum focusses on that very aspect: how the Dutch military information services manipulated the portrayal of the conflict in the Dutch media.

The undesired, hidden images

The exhibition show the ‘desired’, but distorted pictures of the situation in Indonesia, published in Dutch newspapers and weeklies at the time, along with the other, hidden images: images that show the brutal and violent treatment of the Dutch soldiers against the Indonesians. These were found much later in the private collection of Dutch soldiers.

A telling and bold exhibition about the ways of war propaganda that you won’t likely see in other countries and which should make us critical of war images in the media today.

Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam (Dutch Resistance Museum)
Plantage Kerklaan 61
Open every day till 17.00 hrs, except Wednesday
Adults: Adults: € 10,-  /  Children 7-15: € 5,-


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