The Persecution of the Jews in Photographs: The Netherlands, 1940–1945

till October 6

The persecution of the Jews in the Netherlands during the years of German occupation has been captured in numerous images. Amateurs as well as professional photographers took disturbing pictures of this dark era. Many of these photographs have been preserved. In this respect, the Netherlands differs from other countries occupied by the Nazis. On 28 January 2019, an exhibition of these photographs opens at the National Holocaust Museum in development. The exhibition is entitled The Persecution of the Jews in Photographs: The Netherlands, 1940–1945. It is curated by the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the event is a collaborative venture between the Jewish Cultural Quarter, the NIOD, and the Topographie des Terrors in Berlin, where the exhibition will be on view from the autumn of 2019.

Of all the countries in Western Europe occupied by the Nazis, the Netherlands suffered the largest proportion of Jewish victims. In total, 104,000 of the country’s approximately 140,000 Jews (75%) did not survive the Holocaust. Most of them were murdered in Nazi concentration and extermination camps. During the gradual process from concentration and isolation to deportation, many Jews lived between hope and fear. The murder of the Jews living in the Netherlands started in July 1942, with the first transports to Auschwitz extermination camp.

Many of the photos were made by professional photographers, generally commissioned by Nazi authorities for use as propaganda. But countless amateurs also took pictures documenting the persecution and deportation of the Jews. The NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies administers by far the largest collection of photographs on this theme and has conducted in-depth research on the visual history of the persecution of Jews in the Netherlands. Countless archives in the Netherlands and other countries have been consulted, leading to the discovery of numerous previously unknown photographs.

The exhibition presents a large and representative overview of the photographic record of the persecution of the Jews. It documents the consequences of the anti-Jewish measures that were put in place in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation in shocking, confrontational images. The pictures show the callous actions of the Nazi occupying regime and the collaboration of Dutch people in the deportation, but they also record the help that was provided to people living in hiding and the everyday lives of Jewish people during the occupation. The exhibition also devotes attention to the way in which the few survivors from the camps and those who returned from their places of hiding were received after the war.

The Persecution of the Jews in Photographs: The Netherlands, 1940–1945 is the first major exhibition to display the visual history of the persecution of the Jews during the Second World War. At the opening, the exhibition’s curators René Kok and Erik Somers, will present the first copy of the book De Jodenvervolging in foto's. Nederland 1940-1945 (later also to appear in English and German editions), published by WBooks in Zwolle. From 30 October 2019 to May 2020 the exhibition will be on view at the museum and documentation centre Topographie des Terrors in Berlin city centre.

For an in-depth discussion:

Visit the exhibition's website, for the accompanying podcast and educational guide.

This exhibition is no longer on show
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