Nederlands Exposition in Auschwitz Resistance

Illegal press

Reading and Passing on

The illegal newspapers that began to appear in 1940 were circulated in the course of the war among an increasingly wider public. In 1941, the newspapers circulated among tens of thousands of readers and in 1942 they reached half a million readers. The Netherlands was divided into different ideological groups, also known as segments. Each group, such as the communists, social democrats, Protestants, had their own illegal newspaper. Their common denominator was calling for resistance and providing news that the German authorities preferred to keep away from the public. Het Parool (social democratic), De Waarheid (communist), Vrij Nederland (Protestant), and Trouw, (Protestant), were the main illegal newspapers. De Waarheid published the first news about the extermination of Jews in the gas chambers. There were severe punishments for making and distributing illegal newspapers.


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  1. Geuzenactie, Message No. 2, 18 May 1940
    The first messages of the resistance movement Geuzenactie were written by hand. It is the first known illegal newspaper. The first, unsaved, issue was already published on 15 May 1940.
    In Message No. 2, IJzerdraat warned about the consequences of the German occupation:
    “We weten wat ons te wachten staat.
    “We know what is waiting for us. All our supplies will be confiscated, food, clothing, footwear.”
    “Our young men will be forced to work somewhere else for the conqueror.”

    NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  2. Bernard IJzerdraat
    The teacher from Haarlem, Bernard IJzerdraat, was the founder, organiser, and editor of the Geuzenactie. In his newspaper he called for concrete resistance against the Germans. In November 1940, IJzerdraat was arrested and in March 1941 he was executed, together with fourteen other members of the Geuzen resistance group.
    Unknown photographer, NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  3. De Waarheid, 17 July 1942
    The illegal communist paper De Waarheid appeared for the first time on 23 November 1940. On 17 July 1942, the paper published the news about the first deportations of Jews to the east. In this article the paper wrote about the gas chambers in German camps in occupied Poland:
    These all are signs that the krauts are busy executing their evil plan to deport the Jews to Poland”… “Just recently, the Polish government in London revealed numbers and facts about the atrocious murder of Jews in Poland. Jewish men, women, and children have been murdered in the course of this war by hanging, firing squads, suffocation in gas chambers, or as a result of cruel tortures“.
    NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  4. In the winter of 1944/45, there was no electricity and all the illegal printing had to be done by hand with a mimeograph machine, just as at the beginning of the war.
    Photo by Cas Oorthuys, NFM Collection, Rotterdam
  5. Het Parool, 27 september 1943
    Het Parool from 27 September 1943 reported in detail about the gas chambers.
    The article titled “Read How the National Socialist Scum Treat People” reported about the gas chambers in German concentration camps* where hundreds of Jews were being murdered simultaneously. The editorial staff had doubted for a long time whether to publish this information. They were afraid of generating panic among the Jews. In addition, the information was so unbelievable that they were not sure how much of it was true.
    “In the course of the war the Nazis have rationalised the execution of opponents and enemies who were arrested: ‘umlegen’ (putting down) is the technical term for what has been taking place for quite some time now in the gas chambers that were built in all the camps. Such a gas chamber gives the impression of being a bathing place. Many people enter the chamber naked and the advantage is that afterwards the bodies can be burned immediately without having to undress them. The procedure is simple. The doors are closed and the taps are opened. Fifteen minutes later a corpse commando enters to remove the victims. Tens of thousands of Poles, Jews, and Russians have been murdered this way in the camp in Auschwitz."
    NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  6. Wim van Norden (1917)
    In autumn 1940, Wim van Norden began distributing the newsletter of Pieter ‘t Hoen, the forerunner of the illegal Het Parool, which appeared for the first time in February 1941. In August 1941, the newspaper was the first illegal paper that appeared in printed version.
    In December 1941, Van Norden became editor of the paper. After Frans Goedhart (Pieter ‘t Hoen’s real name) was arrested in January 1942, Van Norden together with several other people took over leadership of Het Parool, whose motto was ‘free, unafraid’.
    Het Parool Collection, Amsterdam
  7. Reports being processed for an article in an illegal newspaper. The photo was taken in Amsterdam at the hiding address of the photographer and it is from a series of photos about making a stencilled paper, 15 October 1944.
    Photo by Hans Sibbelee, NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  8. The illegal newspapers were distributed mainly by women. The Germans checked men more often due to evasion of forced labour.
    Photo by Cas Oorthuys, NFM Collection, Rotterdam
  9. Henk van Randwijk (1909-1966)
    Henk van Randwijk was one of the most important figures in the Dutch resistance.
    After the arrest of the founder of Vrij Nederland in 1941, Van Randwijk continued the publication of the paper. Under his leadership the paper grew and became one of the biggest and most influential underground newspapers in the Netherlands, in addition to Het Parool, De Waarheid and Trouw.
    Unknown photographer, NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  10. Vrij Nederland, December 1941
    The first issue of the illegal Vrij Nederland newspaper appeared on 31 August 1940 with just 130 copies. In this issue the increasing censorship by the Germans is stated to be the reason for the establishment of the paper. In December 1941, the first printed version appeared.
    NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  11. Trouw, 18 February 1943
    Many of the people who worked for Vrij Nederland came from a Calvinistic (Dutch reformed) background and for quite some time were unsatisfied with Van Randwijk’s policy. In February 1943, under leadership of Wim Speelman a number of editors began to establish their own reformed resistance paper named Trouw.
    NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  12. Wim Speelman (1919-1945)
    Wim Speelman was a resistance fighter, who was involved in many illegal activities, and therefore tried to make contact with as many people as possible. He had strong conflicts about this with Van Randwijk, who accused him of being reckless. This resulted in leaving Vrij Nederland. In the summer of 1944 the German Sicherheitspolizei announced that if Trouw would shut down, the Germans would release the paper’s employees who were sentenced to death. Speelman had a difficult choice to make: giving up Trouw as a symbol of resistance or sealing the fate of ‘his boys’. Speelman decided to continue publishing Trouw Right after making that decision the 23 Trouw distributers were shot to death in Vught. In the end Speelman was also arrested and in February 1945 he was executed by a firing squad.
    Unknown photographer, NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  13. De Vrije Kunstenaar (the free artists)
    Members of the Gerrit-Jan van der Veen (in the photo: man with the moustache) resistance group correcting printer’s proofs of the illegal paper De Vrije Kunstenaar.
    The photo is part of a report about the Gerrit van der Veen resistance group, made during the war by photographer Violette Cornelius.
    Photo by Violette Cornelius, NFM Collection, Rotterdam
Glossary
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introduction
jew in the netherlands
refugees
german invasion
persecution
resistance
going into hiding
sinti and roma
deportation
dutch people in auschwitz
guest book
active resistance
illegal press
forging
religious resistance