Barbed wire

Until April 21, 2013

Barbed wire tells the story of former Dutch conscripts who were called up in 1943 to return to German military captivity. The exhibition focuses on the often forgotten story of the former conscripts who responded to the German call-up. They were given a far from warm welcome when they returned to the Netherlands after the war. After all, they had reported in and worked for the enemy. And thanks to this reception from their fellow Dutchmen, former prisoners of war have rarely if ever spoken about their experiences.

Nazi-Germany invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940. Five days later, the Dutch surrendered. The Dutch conscripts who had been made prisoners of war were allowed home in June. But in the spring of 1943, the Nazi authorities announced that former Dutch conscripts were to be put back in detention. The former soldiers were left with the difficult choice of either responding to the call-up and going to Germany or going into hiding. Of the roughly 240,000 former soldiers who were called up, about 11,000 eventually ended up back as prisoners of war.

Once back in the Netherlands, the returning prisoners of war met with a complete lack of sympathy for their plight and experiences. ‘You reported voluntarily, didn’t you? And you worked for an enemy that occupied your own country for years! You are traitors, collaborators!’  This was hard to digest and many of the former prisoners of war have remained silent since that time. Two of them, Bob Entrop sr. and Joop Mulder, wrote about their experiences and those of their fellow prisoners during their time in detention. They also produced a number of drawings and watercolours. In 1946, their efforts were published in the book ‘Barbed Wire’ (Prikkeldraad). Bob Entrop’s son, who is also called Bob Entrop, made a documentary on the subject, Prikkeldraad in 2010 that included interviews with six of the former prisoners of war.  You can see segments of this documentary as part of the exhibition, but these do not yet have English subtitles. The exhibition Prikkeldraad is a production of Muzee Scheveningen, based on the same material. A small English handout is available.