You Are Occupied


In May 1940 German troops occupied Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands and one of the most diverse and liberal cities in Europe. Not only was Amsterdam's large and prosperous Jewish community about to endure five years of brutal deportation and execution, but every person in the city would have to face varying hardships. The experience of each person during the occupation would have been determined by the decisions they made; decisions on whether to resist, or abide; to fight against the occupiers, or to collaborate with them; decisions on whether to help their fellow Amsterdammers, or to leave them out in the cold, dark realm of hopelessness and fear.

This episode is our interpretation of these events; a look at what some of those decisions might have been, and how  different, resultant experiences would have been felt.

Invasion of the City by German Troops

The Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, although not totally surprising, was also not totally expected. The "Grebbelinie" - a South-Eat to North-West running line of defense based on inundation, was not fortified as much as it could have been. An offer by the French to move a French Army into the Netherlands for support was rejected by the Dutch government. To have allow this would have been to forsake any hope for remaining neutral and unaffected.

4 days afterwards, Nazi troops were rolling into Amsterdam. Many people lined the streets, some in excitement, but not all necessarily to welcome the invader. Curiosity would have played a major part. This was the first invasion of the country since French revolutionary troops had marched in 150 years prior.

A march by the WA, the Dutch National Socialist Militia.

The Dutch National Socialist Party - NSB - was soon made the only legal party. Their paramilitary arm, the Weerbaarheidsafdeling (WA), was soon running amok on Amsterdam's streets, violently expressing the anti-semitic and hate-driven policies of their ideology. The march in the video is presenting the WA to the NSB leader, Anton Mussert, who is the balding, fat guy with the kind of face you'd love to punch. Mussert was executed after the war. Good. F*ck him.

Stories of the Dutch Resistance

After the war, the CIA determined that there were four major grouping of Dutch Resistance cells, themselves sub-divided and with varying degrees of communication and cooperation between them. In such a flat country, with little terrain suitable for hiding and waging a guerrilla war, the Dutch resistance was more characterised by efforts to help those called onderduikers - "under-divers" - people who needed to submerge and be hidden from view, such as Otto Frank and his family. There are thought to have been between 300,000-400,000 onderduikers across the Netherlands during the occupation. This was only made possible by the Dutch resistance.

Other resistance activities included creating and distributing anti-Nazi propaganda, manufacturing fake identity papers for those needing to hide their ethnicity or minority status, hindering German war logistics, and violent acts towards enemy figures. The later two became more pronounced within the realms of Dutch Resistance activity, towards the end of the war.

Remembering Anne Frank

It is to the benefit of us all that people like Miep Gies, who not only played an active role in events during the occupation, also lived to the age of 101, and could tell us herself about how she saw things.

An Interview with a Dutch SS Veteran

Hongerwinter (1944-45)

The end of the war had become a pitiful existence for the average Amsterdammer. No fuel was coming into the city for the population. There was no food. Much of Europe was being liberated by Allied forces, including the south of the country. Here, however, German troops with increasingly less and less to fight for remained in charge. They were motivated only by the fervour of their ideology, which had brought the country to such glory, but was now bringing it to such a quick demise. The Dutch resistance, sniffing blood, became more active; more violent towards their oppressors. The callousness of the hunger winter, during which over 4000 Amsterdammers froze and starved to death, was a part of the decaying Nazi state's retribution for this increased resistance activity.