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Permanent exhibition

The Netherlands in World War II

The Netherlands in World War II

During the period from May 1940 to May 1945, Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands, and this left many Dutch people with challenging choices to make. The stories of individuals who lived through this difficult time are both emotional and personal, and they give a glimpse into what it was like to live in occupied Netherlands.

Visitors can explore this history in a beautifully designed exhibit, which is divided into six phases of the occupation. Each phase is introduced with a large film projection that provides context for the political and international events of the time. The exhibit also features smaller, poignant personal stories that come together to create a more comprehensive narrative. Visitors can choose to read or listen to these stories, which cover both the extraordinary and the ordinary experiences of the Dutch people during this time period. Even the stories of pro-German Dutch people are included in the exhibit.

All kinds of resistance

The exhibition encompasses all kinds of resistance during the time of occupation, including strikes, document forgery, aiding individuals in hiding, underground publications, escape routes, armed combat, and espionage.

Hannie Schaft


Moving personal documents tell the story of people who were confronted with dilemmas by the German occupation, and were forced to make choices. At various points, the visitors are themselves involved very directly in such dilemmas.

Chronological story in various ‘layers’

A visitor striding through the exhibition will get an overall picture of a rather indolent Dutch society in the thirties, experience the shock of the unexpected German invasion, then discover that both the oppression and resistance to it gradually intensify during the occupation years as the war progresses, to finally realize that experiences of this period are still playing a role in today’s society. 
A visitor looking a little more closely will be able to gather more detailed information, particularly from individual examples. 

Objects in the exhibition


Using authentic objects as well as all kinds of modern techniques, the Dutch Resistance Museum evokes a powerful atmospheric picture of the time, and ‘recounts’ events mainly on the basis of personal examples that appeal directly to visitors, and with which they can identify. This will not only capture the visitors' attention but also encourage them to think about their own behaviour today. 

Map of the exhibition and periodization

  1. May 1940 - February 1941: Adapt or resist?
  2. February 1941 - July 1942: Growing resistance
  3. July 1942 - April 1943: Help?
  4. April 1943 - September 1944: Joint resistance
  5. September 1944 - April 1945: Playing hardball
  6. May 1945: Joy and frustration
Map of the exhibition and periodization
Map of the exhibition and periodization

Visit and exhibition

Experience real stories from people's daily life during World War II. How did the Dutch react to the increasing oppression? Discover it in our exhibition.