Dutch resistance

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Members of the Eindhoven Resistance with troops of the US 101st Airborne Division in Eindhoven during Operation Market Garden, September 1944

There was a Dutch resistance to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War II. It was mostly non-violent. The resistance helped to hide 300,000 people in the autumn of 1944.[1]

Dutch resistance developed slowly. The February strike caused by the Germans deporting over 400 Jews, encouraged the resistance. The Dutch communists set up a system of cells (small groups of resistance members). Some other very amateur groups also formed, like De Geuzen, set up by Bernard IJzerdraat. Some military groups started, such as the Ordedienst ('order service'). Most groups were discovered by the Nazis during the first two years of the war.

Dutch resistance groups gathered counterintelligence, did domestic sabotage, and formed communications networks eventually provided. This helped the Allied forces, beginning in 1944 and continuing until the Netherlands was liberated. Some 75% (105,000 out of 140,000) of the Jews were killed in the Holocaust, most of them murdered in Nazi death camps.[2] A number of resistance groups specialized in saving Jewish children.[3] From 215-500 Dutch Romanis were killed by the Nazis.[4]

Definition[change | change source]

The Dutch defined several types of resistance. Going into hiding was generally not considered to be resistance. Not following German rules was also not considered resistance. Sabotage in companies in the Netherlands was not seen as resistance until recently.

Public protests were also not considered to be resistance. Publishing illegal papers was not considered resistance.[1] Only active resistance in the form of spying, sabotage or fighting with arms was considered resistance.

Thousands were arrested by the Germans and jailed for months, tortured, sent to concentration camps or killed.

The Dutch 'February strike' of 1941, protesting deportation of Jews from the Netherlands, was the only such strike in Nazi-occupied Europe. It was not defined as resistance by the Dutch.

After the war, the Dutch created and awarded a Resistance Cross to only 95 people.

Prelude[change | change source]

Prior to the German invasion, the Netherlands were neutral. The Dutch had not fought in war with any European nation since 1830.[5] During World War I, the Dutch were not invaded by Germany. The German ex-Kaiser fled to the Netherlands in 1918. The German invasion was a great shock.[6] The country had ordered its army to get ready in September 1939.
Despite strict neutrality, the country's large merchant fleet was attacked by the Germans after 1 September 1939, the beginning of World War II. The sinking of the passenger liner SS Simon Bolivar in November 1939, with 84 dead, shocked the nation.[7] It was not the only vessel.

German invasion[change | change source]

On 10 May 1940, German troops started their attack on the Netherlands.The Germans invaded with about 750,000 men. This was three times the size of the Dutch army. The Germans invaded with 1,100 planes (the Dutch army had 125) and six armoured trains. They destroyed 80% of the Dutch military aircraft by bombing. The Germans lost over 500 planes in the attack. Also the first large-scale paratroop attack in history failed. The Dutch recaptured the three German-occupied airfields.[1] The Dutch army owned only one tank.[1]

Major areas of military resistance were:

  • the Grebbelinie near Amsterdam
  • Kornwerderzand, which had fortified bunkers
  • Rotterdam, the bridges defended by Dutch Marines

After four days, the Germans had invaded 70% of the country. Adolf Hitler ordered Rotterdam to be destroyed. The bombing left some 85,000 homeless. The Dutch surrendered.[8]

The 2,000 Dutch soldiers who died defending their country, together with at least 800 civilians who died in Rotterdam, were the first victims of a Nazi occupation.

Initial German policy[change | change source]

The Nazis aimed to make the Dutch into Nazis. The open terrain made it difficult to hide illegal activities; unlike for example, the Maquis in France, who had lots of hiding places.

The first German round-up of Jews in February 1941 led to the first general strike against the Germans.

If the Germans discovered people were involved in the resistance, they were jailed. It was the social democrats, Catholics, and communists who started the resistance movement.[9] Membership in an armed or military group could lead to being sent to concentration camps. After mid-1944, Hitler ordered his soldiers to shoot all resistance members. The German did revenge attacks against civilians.

The Nazis deported the Jews to concentration and extermination camps. They started building fortifications along the coast and constructed 30 airfields.. They forced adult males between 18 and 45 to work in German factories or on public work projects. In 1944 most trains were sent to Germany and 550,000 Dutch people were sent to Germany as laborers. Resistance became better organized and more forceful.[10] The resistance killed high-ranking Dutch officials, such as General Seyffardt.

In the Netherlands, the Germans managed to kill many Jews.[11]

Activities[change | change source]

Plaque honouring the Dutch resistance members executed by the Germans at Sachsenhausen concentration camp

On 25 February 1941, the Communist Party of the Netherlands called for a general strike, the 'February strike'. German troops fired on unarmed crowds, and took many prisoners. It was significant because opposition to the German occupation intensified as a result.

Dutch resistance was usually secret. Resistance in the Netherlands included sabotage (such as cutting phone lines, distributing anti-German leaflets or tearing down posters). Some small groups collected intelligence, published underground papers such as De Waarheid, Trouw, Vrij Nederland, and Het Parool; they also sabotaged phone lines.

One of the activities was hiding Jewish families like that of Anne Frank, resistance fighters, men and Allied aircrew. The total amounted to over 300,000 people.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Dr L. de Jong: Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog
  2. Stone, Dan (2010). Histories of the Holocaust. Oxford University Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-19-956680-8. http://books.google.com/books?id=zKodTjtvRvEC&pg=PA42&dq=Dutch+police+deport+Jews+holocaust&hl=en&ei=L9ckTbD1CsL78AbTjOGHAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CEoQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=dutch%20police&f=false.
  3. Klempner, Mark (2006). The Heart Has Reasons. U.S.: The Pilgrim Press. p. 235. ISBN 0-8298-1699-2. http://www.hearthasreasons.com.
  4. Niewyk, Donald L. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, Columbia University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-231-11200-9 page 422.
  5. See Ten Days' Campaign
  6. "A Forgotten Chapter", Holland Under the Third Reich, lecture by Anthony Anderson at the University of Southern California on October 17, 1995. Retrieved 10 April 2008.
  7. Duncan, George. "Maritime Disasters of World War II". http://members.iinet.net.au/~gduncan/maritime-2.html. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  8. The Netherlands and the beginning of World War II from Marketgarden.com. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
  9. The Dutch Resistance and the OSS — Central Intelligence Agency
  10. Resistance from Holocaust and Resistance in World War II Netherlands. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
  11. Genocide from Holocaust and Resistance in World War II Netherlands. Retrieved 11 April 2008

More reading[change | change source]

  • Bentley, Stewart. The Dutch Resistance and the OSS (2012)
  • Bentley, Stewart. Orange Blood, Silver Wings: The Untold Story of the Dutch Resistance During Market-Garden (2007)
  • Fiske, Mel, and Christina Radich. Our Mother's War: A Biography of a Child of the Dutch Resistance (2007)
  • van der Horst, Liesbeth. The Dutch Resistance Museum (2000)
  • Schaepman, Antoinette. Clouds: Episode of Dutch Wartime Resistance, 1940-45 (1982)
  • Sellin, Thorsten, ed. "The Netherlands during German Occupation," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science Vol. 245, May, 1946 pp i to 180 in JSTOR
  • Warmbrunn, Werner. The Dutch under German occupation, 1940–1945 (Stanford University Press, 1963)
  • Dewulf, Jeroen. Spirit of Resistance: Dutch Clandestine Literature under the Nazi Occuaption (Rocher NY: Camden House, 2010)

Other websites[change | change source]