We start with a look at the pre-war Dutch Fascist movements, of which there were a depressingly large number. These didn’t get any significant public support, and were often crippled by internal divisions, but they did provide some volunteers for the German military during the war.
The look at the German occupation forces shows that the Netherlands was quite heavily garrisoned. There was a fairly large army presence and the country also served as the base for a large part of Germany’s air defences. We then look at the many competing security forces that operated in the country, a mix of German and Dutch units. These two chapters set the scene for the opposition that the resistance would have to deal with, and reminds us that not everyone was opposed to the Nazi occupation.
We then move on to a look at the first resistance movements, starting with the Netherlands Communist Party, which to its great credit organised the first and only public protest in occupied Europe against the German’s anti-Jewish laws, a strike held in February 1941 in response to the first deportations (and suppressed heavy-handedly by the Germans, inevitably increasing the level of resistance). The Communists were followed by a sizable array of resistance organisations of various levels of effectiveness, many of whose members paid for their efforts with their lives.
Finally we move onto the period of more open warfare, which began in September 1944 as Allied troops appeared to be on the verge of liberating the Netherlands. However the failure of Operation Market Garden meant that the Netherlands was split into a liberated south, where the resistance came into the open and many became regular troops, and an occupied north, where the resistance had to continue to operate in hiding.
This section finishes with a look at the roll of the resistance in the liberation of Friesland, where in April 1945 they effectively helped clear the way for the advancing Canadians, coming out into the open and attacking German outposts, capturing bridges intact and otherwise disrupting the German resistance. This demonstrates just how effect a well organised resistance organisation can be when coordinated with nearby allied forces.
Although this is a fairly brief look at a large topic, it works nicely as a introduction to the topic, and shows that the Netherlands produced a great deal of effective resistance activity.
Fascism in the Pre-War Netherlands
The Military Occupation, 1940-45
The Security Apparatus
Growth of the Resistance, 1940-44
Open Warfare, from September 1944
Allied Liberation Operations, 1944-45
Author: Michel Wenting LLM and Klass Castelein