Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Spirit of Resistance

Spirit of Resistance: Dutch Clandestine Literature during the Nazi Occupation

Jeroen Dewulf
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 300
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Spirit of Resistance
    Book Description:

    Clandestine literature was published in all countries under Nazi occupation, but nowhere else did it flourish as it did in the Netherlands. This raises important questions: What was the content of this literature? What were the risks of writing, printing, selling, and buying it? And why the Netherlands? Traditionally, the combative Dutch "spirit of resistance" has been cited, a reaction not only to German oppression but to German propaganda: while the Germans hoped to build bonds with their "Germanic" Dutch "brothers," clandestine literature insisted on their incompatibility. However, when reading clandestine literature, one should not forget that this "spirit of resistance" came rather late and did not prevent the transportation of seventy-three percent of the Netherlands' Jewish population to Nazi death camps - the largest percentage in Western Europe. The Dutch case is complex: while the country proved to be remarkably resistant to Nazi propaganda, little was done to prevent the actual execution of Nazi policies. The complete story of Dutch clandestine literature therefore combines resistance and complicity, victory and defeat, pride and shame. Jeroen Dewulf is Queen Beatrix Professor of Dutch Studies in the Department of German at the University of California, Berkeley.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-819-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The German invasion of the Netherlands on 10 May 1940 was not only a tragedy for the Dutch people; it was also a tragedy for Dutch literature. In just a few weeks the intellectual leaders of an entire generation would disappear. In the chaos of the battle of Rotterdam, Doeke Zijlstra, editor-in-chief of the publishing house Nijgh & Van Ditmar, was killed by a stray bullet. Publisher Robert Leopold, who feared German revenge for his publication of Hermann Rauschning’s critical work Gespräche mit Hitler (Conversations with Hitler, 1939), shot himself. The promising Jewish writer Jacob Hiegentlich took poison and died....

  6. 1: Resistance Literature in Dutch History
    (pp. 9-23)

    The Netherlands has a longer history as an independent state than many of its European neighbors. While Germany only came into existence as a united nation-state in 1871, the Netherlands has comprised an independent unity since 1648. Unofficially, Dutch independence even dates back to 1581, the year in which the rebellious provinces of the Netherlands rejected Spanish sovereignty with the publication of the “Plakkaat van Verlatinghe” (Act of Abjuration), a formal declaration of independence. With the exception of a brief period of French domination (1795–1813), its sovereignty was never questioned. The “seniority” of the Netherlands was a common basis...

  7. 2: Antifascist Literature in the 1930s
    (pp. 24-43)

    “The Eighteen Dead” was not Jan Campert’s first antifascist poem. In 1933 Campert had used poetry to express his concern about Nazism in “Ballade der verbrande boeken” (Ballad of the Burned Books).¹ The poem was a reaction against the Nazi book burnings in May 1933. It ended with a reference to the power of literature: the books that were being burned by the henchmen of the Third Reich could not be destroyed because “Thomas Mann, Fallada, Wassermann, and Zweig had already achieved the eternal Reich (217–18).”

    Only a few months earlier, in February, another fire in Berlin, in the...

  8. 3: The Netherlands under German Occupation
    (pp. 44-65)

    Literature played an important role in Hitler’s coming to power in Germany. Not only did he present his own ideology in the form of a book, Mein Kampf (1925), but several right-wing publishing houses — those Gary D. Stark would later call the “Entrepreneurs of Ideology” — contributed substantially to the popularization of National Socialist ideology in Germany.¹

    In 1935 Mussolini presented books and guns as the fundamental symbols of the fascist state. Hence the famous expression “Libro e Moschetto” (Book and Musket). The propaganda of the NSDAP (the Nazi Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei) interpreted the importance of literature in a similar...

  9. 4: Clandestine Printing
    (pp. 66-98)

    In early July 1940 the Utrecht University Students’ Union was informed that its clubhouse had to be vacated. The German authorities had decided to use the building as headquarters for the Waffen-SS. The main concern of the students was the stock of spirits. This treasure must not fall into the hands of the Germans! A firm decision was made: on the night of July 8, the entire supply would be drunk and not a single drop of the precious liquor would be left to the enemy. Geert Lubberhuizen was a member of this group. Becoming a student had made him...

  10. 5: Clandestine Literature
    (pp. 99-181)

    A question that has so far remained unanswered is what accounts for the unprecedented popularity of clandestine literature during the German occupation of the Netherlands. In his introduction to Dirk de Jong’s bibliography (1958),¹ Herman de la Fontaine Verwey raised the question of why people who before the war did not give a thought to entering a bookshop suddenly paid high prices for clandestinely published novels and collections of poetry, almost as if these publications represented the nation’s conscience. According to de la Fontaine Verwey, Dutch literature was more relevant than ever during the German occupation. He provocatively even labeled...

  11. 6: The War after the War
    (pp. 182-226)

    In the previous chapter we saw that P. J. Meertens, Yge Foppema, and Garmt Stuiveling were prominently involved in the postwar discussion about the importance of clandestine literature. All three men had impressive careers in Dutch postwar society. In 1945 Foppema was celebrated as one of the greatest poets of clandestine literature and was awarded a thousand-guilder prize for his contribution to the resistance. He later worked as a journalist for several newspapers and magazines and ended his career as editor-in-chief of the weekly supplement of the NRC, one the leading national newspapers. Meertens was invited to collaborate on the...

  12. Three Times Dam Square: An Epilogue
    (pp. 227-242)

    One could argue that the exhibit on clandestine literature in the Amsterdam City Museum in June 1945 was the first “monument” to the victims of the war. One of its rooms was reserved for those who had lost their lives for the sake of freedom of the press. Entering this room dedicated to the martyrs of resistance literature had almost sacral significance.

    Another temporary monument to the victims of the war consisted of a colonnade that was erected in December 1947 on Dam Square, at the very heart of Amsterdam. On 4 May 1956, exactly eleven years after liberation, this...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 243-276)
  14. Index
    (pp. 277-288)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 289-289)