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.

Atlantic Wall Centre - Huisduinen

The striking Neoclassical building constructed in 1942 was the administrative centre and German Naval Officers’ quarters during the German occupation of the Netherlands. Until 1992 the controversial building was used by both the Artillery of the Royal Army and the Royal Navy. Following a fire in 2009 it became a centre for learning about Den Helder and the Atlantic Wall. Interactive displays, original artefacts and eyewitness accounts tell the story of the Wadden Area during the war.

Bunkers at Burgh Haamstede

To the west of Burgh Haamstede are the remains of a vast and complex system of bunkers and underground shelters, interconnected by concrete tunnels. This was the command headquarters of the ‘Stützpunktgruppe Schouwen’. It was from here that operations over the entire Schouwen-Duiveland area were directed. The area played a crucial role in the final months of the war. In particular from 4 September until 8 November 1944 during the Battle for the Scheldt, when the Allies sought to take control of the route into Antwerp.

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.

National Holocaust Names Memorial

Netherland’s national memorial for the Holocaust and Porajmos is located in the former Jewish quarter of Amsterdam. The memorial names the 102,000 Jewish and 220 Roma and Sinti victims who were arrested by the Nazis during the German occupation of the Netherlands and sent to their death in the Auschwitz and Sobibor death camps between 1940 and 1945. Visitors walk through a labyrinth of corridors made up of red bricks. On each brick is the name, date of birth and age at death of a victim.

Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial

The American cemetery in Margraten is the only American military cemetery in the Netherlands. In just over 65 hectares, 8288 American service men have been laid to rest. The names of a further 1722 soldiers who were never recovered are recorded on the walls of the Court of Honour at the entrance to the cemetery. At the centre of the Court is the memorial tower. In the visitor building large engraved maps illustrate the military operations of the American armed forces in the area.

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.