Netherlands World War 2 Photo Essay

by Timothy Blazek

The Entry of Netherlands into World War 2

Netherlands on May 10, 1940 was introduced into the war with the invasion by Germany into its territory. The country itself was surprised and overwhelmed by the sheer power that the German troops had, so in a mere four days they surrendered. They became an occupied territory and were victims of the holocaust. Many people had to hide in fear from the people and there was little exchange amongst the Dutch during this time because of the great presence of the Germany officers. Those who did interact with the Germans were considered collaborators, or traitors and were punished at the end of the war. There was some resistance to the Germans, however, now of them were successful into the Allied forces came into the Netherlands, causing the Germans to flee from Netherlands.
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"The Third Wave." Canadian Archives. 31 Aug. 2006. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <>.


Prior to the occupation of the Netherlands, many people fled the country because they knew that the conditions were not very ideal in Europe. They went various places, but this boat specifically headed off to Canada where these people were considered refugees from the war in Europe. However, not everybody was fortunate enough to leave the country before the invasion.
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"Netherlands Archives - WW2 News." WW2 News. Web. 17 Nov. 2015. <>.

Dutch Army

This picture depicts Dutch soldiers prior to the war. They are staying guard a couple hours before the invasion of the Germans in May 1940. Their efforts were very minimal and the army got hit hard with the invasion. They were not able to put up much of a fight against the Germans, which is why the Dutch army has such little affect during the war.
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Chen, Peter. "German Vehicles and Troops in Maastricht, the Netherlands, 10 May 1940."World War II Database. Federal Archives, 21 July 2010. Web. 17 Nov. 2015. <>.

German Invasion in Maastricht

In this picture German soldiers, tanks, and other vehicles are making their entrance into the Netherlands on May 10, 1940. The Netherlands were greatly surprised by this invasion, leaving them very unprepared to fight against the German army. Furthermore, this conflict started the war and conflict between the two countries in the war.
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C N Trueman "The German Invasion Of Holland" The History Learning Site, 20 Apr 2015. 17 Nov 2015.

Bombing of Rottsdam and the Surrender

On May 14, 1940, Rottsdam was nearly destroyed by German air troops, which bombed the city to ruins, as seen in the photo above. This directly led to the surrendering to German by the Dutch government, who after this tragedy had little to no choice to surrender to such a deadly force. After this point, the dutch government had little to no say about what was to happen to the Netherlands as it was it would be in control by the Germans.
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German Entry into Amsterdam

On May 16, 1940, German troops entered into Amsterdam. As seen through this picture, there was a warm welcome from the residents to see the German troops coming into the city. This is a stark contrast to the invasion into Maastricht, which did not receive this warm welcome from the Dutch. Amsterdam being the capital city of Netherlands was captured by the Nazis, a big change to the country now that it was controlled by the Germans.
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"Amsterdam." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 18 Aug. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <>.

Dutch Jews

After the occupation of Netherlands, the Jews were targeted almost instantly. As seen in the photograph, the women are wearing a Star of David on their clothing to identify themselves as a part of that ethnicity. This marking was used to send hundreds of thousands of Dutch Jews off to concentration camps where they would meet their death.
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"The Story of Anne Frank: Anti-Jewish Measures." Anne Frank House. Stadsarchief Amsterdam. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <>.
This photo depicts a lamppost prohibiting the entrance of Jews into the park. This was not only unique to public areas, but kids had to go to separate Jewish schools, live in different areas, and had little contact with non-Jewish people. This was the second way in which people were isolated before sent off into concentration camps. But also it depicts how much control the Germans had on the Dutch, and they had no capability to break free from the German power without foreign aid.
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"Westerbork." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 18 Aug. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <>.


Westerbork was a transit and prison camp for Dutch Jews. Originally, before German occupation, this facility was used to contain illegal immigrants, but was taken up by German forces to be used as a place to collect and send Jews to concentration camps and death camps elsewhere. As seen in the photograph, the buildings are mostly living quarters and was not like other German camps where it seemed like a factory system.
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"Anne Frank." Online Picture. World Book Advanced. World Book, 2015. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.

Anne Frank

The photo above depicts Anne Frank while hiding from the Nazis during the war. Many Jews hid during the war from the Germans occupying their territory for years on end, Anne Frank is a notable one as there is a detailed account of her experiences, presumably similar to others. This further shows how many people hid in fear from the Germans who were restricting their daily lives.
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"World War II: The Netherlands--Aftermath and Recovery." Children in History. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <>.

Youth in Netherlands

The children in the Netherlands played a role in the society. As seen in the photo, the youth were helpful in picking up the pieces of fallen buildings and cleaning up the mess that the German armies were leaving. They were not able to fight, but they were still able to support the country in their respective ways.
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"10 Things You Need to Know about the End of World War II in the Netherlands." National Archives, 3 May 2015. Web. 27 Nov. 2015. <>.


The picture depicts youth during the German blockade of goods and fuels into Dutch cities. Kids would do what they could, including tearing off wood from rail lines as a method of fuel during this hard time, as depicted in the photo. The youth were strained during the war as they had to struggle to stay alive.
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"Nazi Propaganda 1935-1938." Nazi Propaganda 1935-1938. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <>.


During the war, the Germans convinced many Dutch to join the cause to fight against the Soviets. In this propaganda photo, it is calling the strong and able men to join the Axis powers to defeat the Soviets, this was frowned upon, but many men ended up joining it. Deeds like this were later punished after the war.
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"Roll Call." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <>.

Police and Structure

During the war, the Dutch police was still present, though they were not very resilient to the German forces. However, this being said, men were still expected to be disciplined and ready for aggression. The picture depicts a typical roll call by police forces early in the morning. Furthermore, it shows how there were still structured Dutch forces in the Netherlands, but they were obedient to the Germans.
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Graanoogst, Audrey. "Ada Van Randwijk (101) Deceased - NL Times." NL Times. 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <>.

Active Dutch Resistance

This photo depicts a couple of different elements of the Dutch society. One it depicts the violent Dutch resistance that was capable of detaining some German soldiers throughout the war through the methods of violence. But also, looking more closely, there are a couple of women involved in this resistance. The role of women was not so much passive as in other wars, however, they had a more important role that in many past wars.
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"Troops of US 101st Airborne Division with Members of Dutch Resistance." World War II Database. United States Central Intelligence Agency, 18 Sept. 1944. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <>.

Dutch Resistance

The Dutch Resistance forces are shown alongside American troops as they work together to liberate Netherlands. The Resistance in Netherlands was present for a good duration of the war, however, it was not very active: it was not actively fighting against the Germans, rather they helped once other countries started coming in. Through this, it becomes clear that the Dutch, though not happy about the living conditions, were not all actively fighting against the Germans.
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Chen, Peter. "Sherman Tanks Advancing through Cheering Crowds in Valkenswaard, the Netherlands." World War II Database. Imperial War Museum. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. <>.

Liberation of Valkenswaard

As the war came to a close, troops came into occupied territories to get rid of the German troops in these countries. Many of the troops who initially helped the Dutch were the Canadians, however, both British and American troops helped with the liberation. In this photo, Allied troops are coming in to free and help the Dutch as the Dutch people celebrate and rejoice over such an important step of freedom from the Germans on September 18, 1944.
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"10 Things You Need to Know about the End of World War II in the Netherlands." National Archives, 3 May 2015. Web. 27 Nov. 2015. <>.

Post-War Treatment of Collaborators

After the war, those who had relations with German officers or troops were sentenced to harsh treatment. As seen in the photo above, a women was brutally abused physically for her relationship with a German. Most of the time, the women was not the one in control, but they were forced to communicate and do what the officers said; however, they were still punished severely.
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Sheley, D. "A Message from the Starving People of Holland to the USAAF 8th Air Force." World War II Database. United States National Archives. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <>.

Thankful Dutch

The Americans aided the Dutch by giving them food when they did not have the access to it. Additionally, they provided aid to get rid of German occupation of the Netherlands. With such gratefulness, they wrote this on one of the US aircrafts to demonstrate that they would not have been able to make it through the war without the foreign help.