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The Dutch Underground Press 1940-1945
Dutch underground newspapers published between 1940 and 1945 (State Institute for War Documentation, Amsterdam)

The founding of the State Institute for War Documentation in Amsterdam on the 8th of May 1945 was already being prepared during the last years of the German occupation of The Netherlands. The Institute considered its first responsibility to be the collecting of all kinds of documents of historical value relating to the occupation, especially those in the possession of private citizens, where preservation might not be certain. By means of an intensive radio, press, and poster campaign the Institute succeeded in forming an almost complete collection of the vast number of newspapers circulated clandestinely during the war. This material ranged from primitively handwritten or typed sheets, calling for opposition to the Nazis or containing simple daily news items to professionally edited and printed papers filled with political articles and views as well as pieces on national socialism, measures imposed by the enemy, and during the later years of the war expectations and concepts related to the reconstruction of a new democracy in a liberated country, as well as to military and political developments throughout the world. The tens of thousands of issues of these papers provide a wealth of invaluable data on every conceivable aspect of a West European nation during the Second World War, a rich source for historical and sociological research.
Harry Paape, Director Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation

On May 14, 1940 the Dutch army capitulated. On May 15th the first underground paper appeared: Geuzenactie (Beggars' Action). A month later the second underground paper, Bulletin, more a real newspaper as regards form and contents, saw the light of day. The first issue of one of the best-known underground papers of the whole period of occupation, Vrij Nederland (the Free Netherlands), was dated August 31, 1940, Queen Wilhelmina's birthday. As far as is known, by January 1941, 62 different underground papers were publishing with an estimated circulation of 57,000. In February 1941 a roundup of Jews was made in the streets of Amsterdam, to which the population replied with a general strike. The possibility of expressing oneself legally became smaller and smaller and after this event, the underground press developed rapidly. In spite of Nazi prosecution papers appeared with ever increasing frequency. More care was also bestowed on their outward appearance. The total number of underground papers for 1941 was about twice as large as 1940: about 120 publications are known to us. The number decreased somewhat to 96 in 1942. In 1943 resistance in the Netherlands increased. Altogether, 150 new publications appeared in the course of that year, some of which discussed problems of postwar reconstruction exclusively.

In 1944 developments in the occupied Netherlands were at first determined by the eagerly awaited invasion of Western Europe; after the beginning of the landings in Normandy the course of military operations became the determining factor. In the first few months of the year the underground press helped disseminate instructions for the civil population broadcast by the BBC and Radio Oranje by order of General Eisenhower. The approaching struggle also forced the underground groups to cooperate more intensively. In the beginning of September 1944 the Allied armies neared The Netherlands. Never had there been greater need for the underground papers; never had it been more difficult to produce them. But the makers of the underground press were resourceful and indefatigable. The greatest need was for news. Accordingly, from the beginning of September to the end of December 1944, 350 new news-bulletins arose. The total for all of 1944 reached 500. Several hundred more publications sprang up in the last months before the liberation to bring the grand total since May 1940 to some 1,300.

Finding aids
Easy access to the collection is provided by an IDC adaptation of the original collection catalogue De Ondergrondse Pers 1940-1945 by L.E. Winkel (1954) and by eye-legible headers. The newspapers are arranged in alphabetical order numbered consecutively. The issues of each newspaper are arranged chronologically. The microfiches on which a particular title can be found are indicated by number next to the title in the catalogue. The catalogue numbers of the newspapers contained on a particular fiche are clearly indicated in the eye-legible headers on the fiche. In addition the headers contain an alphabetical reference for quick-searching. The catalogue has been brought up to date by IDC to take account of additions to the collection since 1954. It includes the complete original 69-page introduction, an English summary and frequent historical notes about individual newspapers. In addition each title in the catalogue contains information - as far as is known - about the place, time and frequency of publication, as well as remarks on the form, content, print run and the extent of the collection's holdings of the title.

IDC is grateful to the publishers of Trouw (BV Trouw/Kwartet), Vrij Nederland (BV Weekbladpers), Het Vrije Volk, and De Waarheid, for permission to reproduce their underground issues as part of the present microfiche collection.