Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

World War II & the Holocaust in the Netherlands

Despite declaring neutrality at the outset of the war, the Netherlands was invaded by Nazi Germany on 10 May 1940. Four days later the Dutch army was forced to surrender as a result of their defeat in the Rotterdam Blitz. The Dutch government and the Royal family moved to London. The majority of  Dutch Siniti, Roma and Jews were sent to concentration camps in the east. After an especially harsh winter, from which many thousands died of starvation, relief came in April 1945 when the Allied forces crossed the Rhine River in Operation Plunder, beginning 23 March 1945.

Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank House offers insight into one of the more harrowing chapters of modern history. This is where the Frank family and four others hid from persecution during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. After they were discovered, they were sent to extermination camps, where Anne was killed. Her diary was posthumously published in 1947, with the House opening in 1960. Although queues to see the space where the young author scripted her famous journal tend to be long, it is an altogether unique experience.

Casemates Museum

Still accessible by car or public transport, the Kazemattenmuseum (Casemates Museum) is situated on the afsluitdijk: the 32 kilometre long dam which separates the Zuiderzee from the North Sea. This dramatic landscape feature was the setting of one of the lesser known battles of World War II, the Battle of the Afsluitdijk in May 1940. Thanks to the casemates, another term for fortified gun emplacements, this was one the few places where the German Blitzkrieg was successfully halted. Visitors can learn more at the visitor’s centre before exploring the casemates themselves.

Westerbork Remembrance Centre

Westerbork camp was built in 1939 to house Jewish refugees fleeing Germany and Austria. Following Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, the camp became known as the ‘Gateway to Hell’; a transit camp where hundreds of Sinti, Roma and Jewish people were sent before being transferred to concentration camps such as Auschwitz and Sobibor. Following the liberation of Europe Westerbork became an internment camp for ‘bad Dutch’ and members of the SS. In the 1950s and 1960s it served as a camp for Indo-Ducth citizens being repatriated from the newly independent Indonesia. Through personal stories, the Herinneringscentrum Kamp Westerbork tells the layered history of the site.