Love in wartime

In times of conflict and upheaval love takes on a greater intensity. The Second World War influenced the love lives of a whole generation. You got butterflies in your stomach down in the air raid shelters, in the resistance, in the trenches and even in the concentration camps. The exhibition Love in Wartime portrays for us  this neglected human aspect of the war.

Until May 22, 2011

Cause for passion
Prolonged periods of boredom, such as experienced while in hiding, or at the other extreme, while working together under pressure in the Resistance, can be cause for passion. Threat of death can stimulate the reproductive urge, and the love this brings with it. Love kept people going in wartime. Moreover, the authority of the law and social control were less in evidence than during peace time. Men were often far from home, as soldiers or in forced labour. Prostitution flourished, illegitimate relationships proliferated, and many complained of moral degeneration. 

Love comes in many forms
In this exhibition love comes in many forms: love that arises when people are doomed to remain together, love that provides the strength to keep alive, love relationships with the enemy, and paid love. Photos, love letters, improvised wedding garments, film and audio recordings are used to portray countless love stories. Like the story of Lammie, daughter of a couple who helped people go into hiding, who comforts Bennie when his parents are rounded up. In 1944 their child is born, but no-one is allowed to know of Bennie’s existence. For fellow villagers the baby is a “moffenkind” (a Jerry’s child). Only after the war can they marry. Or the story of Annie from Rotterdam, who secretly embarks on a relationship with the German captive seaman Karl.

Child by a liberator
Plenty of women fell for the glamour of the uniformed occupier or liberator. Around 8,000 Dutch girls had a child by a liberator. But many more had a child by a German serviceman. Estimates range from 13.000 to 15.000.

Love in Wartime is an intimate exposition that will make your heart beat faster!

The exhibition is organised by the National Liberation Museum 1944-1945 in Groesbeek and based on the book by Steffie van den Oord, ‘Love in Wartime’. Amsterdam 2004.

The exhibition is open to the general public each day from 3 June 2010 to May 22, 2011.