The 1940 invasion of the Netherlands through German eyes
1 February - 19 May 2019
The German campaign in photos
In the early morning of 10 May 1940, Germany launches its attack on the Netherlands. The Dutch army’s resistance is fiercer than expected. This is the reason Rotterdam is bombed on 14 May. The following day, the Netherlands surrenders. Dutch soldiers take very few photos of that short, five-day war. German soldiers, however, do take thousands of photos of their campaign through the Netherlands.
Researcher Gerard Groeneveld discovered them in hundreds of photo albums.
Unique photos ...
The exhibition Nach Holland shows more than 150 of these photos, some of which have never before been exhibited in public. Together, these give a unique insight into the five days of war in May 1940.
'We can’t wage war with our cameras, but we can use them in the service of warfare (...) '
In the German magazine Photofreund, 1940.
... for the home front
Amateur photography is already extremely popular in Germany before the war, and the Wehrmacht encourages photography as a way to keep the home front informed. The German soldiers photograph their day-to-day lives and themselves in macho poses, but also prisoners of war, destructions, contact with Dutch citizens and the fighting.
... with quotes and photo albums
There are surprising pictures of German troops entering the Netherlands on horseback or on bicycles, and German soldiers who cheerfully pose with Dutch prisoners of war. But also photos of fallen Dutch soldiers, German war graves and the bombing of Rotterdam are captured for posterity. The photos are exhibited side by side with quotes from German soldiers and their photo albums. This paints a remarkable picture of the days of May 1940 through German eyes.
The photos in the exhibition are from the collection of Gerard Groeneveld. The content is based on the book Nach Holland. De meidagen van 1940 door Duitse ogen [The days of May 1940 through German eyes], by Gerard Groeneveld, which was published in 2018.