Joe Russel's Identity Cards

Student Joe Russel (‘Kobus’) was leader of the Venray district of the LO, the National Organisation for Aid to Those in Hiding. The search for him became so intensive that he had to assume a female identity. A scarf hid his Adam's apple. Back to highlights

National Socialist society
The occupiers made frantic efforts to turn the Netherlands into a National Socialist society. The introduction, in 1941, of the persoonsbewijs [pb, identity card] allowed the Germans to exert more control over the population.

Age 15
Every Dutch citizen aged 15 and over had to have such a card, with passport photo and fingerprint, and had to carry it at all times.

Living in hiding
As the occupation continued, the number of people in hiding increased to more than 300,000 in 1944. Jews were the first large group in 1942, followed later by students, former soldiers and young men trying to escape work in Germany. Many people in the resistance were also living in hiding.

It was difficult to find safe hiding places in the densely-populated Netherlands. In addition, people in hiding needed food - and therefore ration coupons - as well as forged identity papers and money.

At the end of 1942 the LO was set up, the National Organisation for Aid to Those in Hiding, which combined many existing groups.