Monday, January 26, 2015

WW2 | Documentary Sources for the Dutch Resistance (Updated Feb. 29, 2016)

Loe de Jong (1914-2005), author of
 the official history of World War II in
Holland. He had high praise for Wally
van Hall.
The starting point for this book was my mother's death in 2006 and my appointment as her executor. I have been attempting to promote her two books of fiction about the Nazi Occupation of Holland, with special reference to the Boissevain and van Hall families. Her books were based on stories from the war told by family members and friends.

These two books are listed below under fiction. They are under discussion for a television miniseries and I have a time-limited option with someone to develop this. Meanwhile, independently, a cousin asked me if I could document what our Dutch relatives did to help the Resistance.
Memoirs and Non-Fiction Books

de Jong, Louis (Loe), History of World War II in Holland (in Dutch only, 14 volumes, 18,000 words), published by NIOD. This is the most authoritative book on World War II in Holland. A copy of the complete set is available on open shelving at NIOD and at the Amsterdam Archief. Loe de Long was by and large a "dry" scholar, wary of overstatement, but he had the highest praise for Wally van Hall.

Deál, István, Europe on Trial: The Story of Collaboration, Resistance, and Retribution During World War II (Westview, 2015). This book covers the resistance or collaboration throughout Europe. His divisions of the war periods and of the responses of the people in different countries is useful.

Encyclopedia Britannica entries on Gestapo, etc.

Flim, Bert Jan, Opportunities for Dutch Jews to Hide from the Nazis, 1942-1945.

Friedhoff, Herman, Requiem for the Resistance: The Civilian Struggle against Nazism in Holland and Germany, Bloomsbury, 1988. This is a highly personal memoir of the author's experiences working with the Dutch Resistance during the war. He has a limited perspective on what was happening but what he does describe is useful.

Hilberg, Raul, Perpetrators Victims Bystanders: the Jewish Catastrophe, 1933–1945.

Lochner, Louis P., ed., The Goebbels Diaries, 1942-43, Doubleday, 1948. Goebbels had strong opinions about the Dutch people and their lack of enrollment in Hitler's dreams.

Marlin, Randal (grandson of Olga Boissevain van Stockum; Department of Philosophy, Carleton University, Ottawa), Propaganda and the Art of Persuasion, 2nd edition (Broadview, 2013). My brother's book is gathering steam as a bible of students of propaganda.

NIODDutch Jews as Perceived by Themselves and Others.

They Choose for Resistance, book in Dutch about Gi and Janka Boissevain.

Schaap, Erik, Walraven van Hall, in Dutch. The book is priced at €24.95, plus shipping. Schaap, who lives in Zaandam, has also written a book in Dutch about the early days of the Resistance in the Netherlands.


The top Young Adult books on have some useful backgrounds to or perspectives on  the nonfiction detail that I am assembling. Two of the books among the top five are by my mother (rankings are as of January 2015; they are updated by Goodreads every 5 minutes). The top three were all made into movies. My mother's writing about the Nazi Occupation of Holland preoccupied her for three decades after the end of World War II.
  • #1. The Book Thief (2005). Written by an Australian, this is about a 13-year-old German girl, Liesel, growing up in a suburb of Munich in World War II. Her foster father Hans takes in a Jewish man whose father fought with Hans in World War I. In 2013 it was made into a movie.
  • #2. The Diary of Anne Frank (1942-44, first published in Dutch in 1947). This diary is the authentic story in her own words of a girl growing up in the Jewish ghetto of Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. She did not survive the war, but her father Otto did and had the diary published. There have been several movies based on the book. Here is one entire 1 hour 36-minute movie.
  • #3. Number the Stars (1989)This is the story of a 10-year-old Danish girl during the Nazi Occupation, and the escape of a Jewish family from Copenhagen. This book has been made into a movie that won prizes for historical fiction.
  • #4. The Winged Watchman (1962) tells the story of the Nazi Occupation from the perspective of two Dutch boys aged 10 and 14 living in a rural windmill. The two boys become involved in the Resistance. The book has been optioned for a television miniseries, along with The Borrowed House.
  • #5. The Borrowed House (1975) provides the perspective of a German girl living in a "borrowed" house in Amsterdam with her parents, who were performers sent to entertain the German troops and SS; a Dutch translation was published in 2013, retitled Het Gestolen Huis (The Stolen House - the Dutch are more realistic about saying what happened). This and the previous book are among the 20 top-ranked (by Goodreads) books for children on World War II, out of 188 books. This list differs from the YA book ranking by including all age groups.
Family Correspondence and Photos

As my mother's executor I have been going through all the correspondence and have transcribed much of it that was hand-written, with the help of Leslie Wiesman years ago and then Jay Tepper-Marlin. There are albums of photos and sketches, amply illustrated, and boxes of letters and clippings, in English and Dutch–from prewar, wartime and post-war Holland, Ireland and England. I had some of the Dutch letters translated (with the help of Dutch relatives like Charles Boissevain, Engelien de Booy and Francesca van Hamel) and have posted many letters at and as well as on several blogs on

It's been an engrossing journey of discovery, with much left for me to learn. For example, I found out that Audrey Hepburn worked for the Dutch Resistance, serving as a courier using her slippers as the container for her messages.

I have been building on my database of information through continuing contact with Dutch relatives - some who were were young children during the war - and other sources of information through letters, posts, emails and phone calls to fill in gaps in information and make the record as complete and useful as it can be.

Boissevain, Emily Heloise MacDonnell, Letters. (Posted on this blogsite.)

de Booy, Hilda Boissevain, Letter to Olga Boissevain van Stockum, October 14, 1940.

Oral Histories

My earliest sources of information on the Dutch Resistance were from stories by my mother, who was well informed as the sister of a bomber pilot, the wife of someone working in the O.S.S. and a Washington, DC resident receiving a steady stream of mail from Europe. I have also picked up stories from my siblings, other relatives, and from people who share a history of family involvement in World War II.

Reference Institutions

NIOD is a research institute in Amsterdam, originally called the Rijks Instituut voor Oorlogs Documentatie (Royal Institute for War Documentation), or RIOD. They renamed it the Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogs Documentatie, NIOD. Since 1999, NIOD has been part of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences). NIOD has now merged with the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS). The acronym therefore stands on its own, as in the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (Dutch: NIOD Instituut voor Oorlogs-, Holocaust- en Genocidestudies).

NIOD's great early achievement was to publish the fine official 14-volume Dutch history of the war by the late Loe de Jong - Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog ("The Kingdom of the Netherlands During World War II"), which topped out at 18,000 pages. The entire history is supposed to be available digitally.

NIOD also works like a boutique library of the quality of the British Library in London. Go there at  380 Herengracht and enjoy the many services it has available. The only Dutch you must learn is that  Trekken means "pull" and you will need to pull the door open to get into the registration area to get permission to use the the reading room. Then you must know the word Duwen, which means "push" after you go down the hall, to get into the reading room.

NIOD offers 65,000 books and three km. of archives, a reading room with 25 reading areas, with wi-fi throughout, professional staff on hand, fellow researchers  interested in the same thing you are. It has events, such as films and seminars. It is the center of a network of institutions that are digitizing all their documents and sharing them online. The building, designed by A. Salm, was inspired by the Chateau de Chenonceau, which spans the Loire.

The book shelves include thousands of books in English. However, you may not find much in English in the archives.The archival documents are mostly in Dutch and German. If all else fails, you may be interested in the 100,000 photographs that NIOD has available. I found some of great interest to me. (I also found some at the Amsterdam Stadsarchief, the City Archives, which has huge resources in the form of family papers.)
Other Sources and Links

Boissevain (Wikipedia, English) - (Dutch Startpagina) - Familieverenigingen (Dutch Wazamar) - Stamboomgids (Dutch genealogy) - genealogie.verzamelgids - Boissevain Family website (Dutch and English)

Boissevain USA (English only, with extensive information on the American Boissevains, especially the three children of Charles Boissevain who emigrated to the USA - Olga, Eugen and Robert).

Boissevain, Town of, Manitoba, Canada - hosts annual Turtle Derby

Boissevain, Charles (journalist, publisher of Het Algemeen Handelsblad, 1842-1927)
Boissevain, Gideon Maria (banker and economist, 1837-1925)
Boissevain, Jan (Amsterdam ship-owner, 1836-1904)
Boissevain, Jean Henri Guillaume (lawyer and publicist, 1817-1870)
Boissevain, Mies van Lennep (Dutch Resistance hero, wife of Robert Lucas Boissevain, 1896-1965)
Boissevain, Walrave (member of Dutch Parliament, 1913-1928)
Boissevain Ford, Natasha (June 14, 1932 - February 13, 2005)
Boissevain, René, Cristal Caves, Australia
Boissevain Daniël, contemporary Dutch actor
Boissevain, Iaira, Consultancy for animal law
Boissevain, Wim, painter, Australia
Boissevain, Jan (Dutch cavalry, then Montana resort)
de la Porte, André (Hester Boissevain NP VIIIe4 79)
Millay, Edna St. Vincent (married Eugen Boissevain) 
van Hall (Petronella Johanna Boissevain NP VIIa7 54)
van Stockum, Hilda (1908-2006)
van Tienhoven (Robert Lucas Boissevain NP IXh 74)

Forthcoming book: The Boissevain Family and the Dutch Resistance, 1940-45. For links to other chapters, go to the Chapter Outline.