Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

I spent a week recently doing research in Amsterdam, at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, formerly the Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) on the beautiful Herengracht.  The institute is housed in a magnificent building, a stones throw from the book stores and book market on Spui, not far from the Anne Frank House.  I worked there, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. everyday, with just one break for lunch at a nearby cafe, of which there are more than plenty in the vicinity.
NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam

One of the things I came across when researching propaganda films is this short film from World War Two, made by the Dutch government in exile and the Canadian film board.  It is in English, its target audience being North Americans. Like much propaganda, in hindsight is strikes one as naive, almost simplistic.  The stereotypical images of pre-war Holland will certainly bring a smile to your face. The few seconds depicting the bombing of Rotterdam in 1940 were images I had never seen before.


  1. Hello:
    What an absolutely fascinating film clip. As you say, at times the propaganda is amusing in its steroetypical portrayal of the Dutch. But, the war footage is most interesting and does convey the extremely hard circumstances that the Dutch had to endure at the hands of the Germans. A Dutch friend of ours tells of the most appalling living conditions under German occupation with very little to eat.

  2. It is interesting to see and read propaganda films and leaflets as they are always so "simplified" to convert the "crowds"; either by waking up old fears or triggering impossible dreams...
    Propaganda has always existed and is still here among us targetting different and varied topics though...and it still works so efficiently! Very scary...

  3. I imagine future generations will sit back and laugh at the propaganda that we are fed. Thanks DeeBee.

  4. Hello Jane and Lance,
    yes, especially in the last year of the war in the north of the country, which had not yet been liberated because of the Allied defeat at Arnhem in '44 (A Bridge too Far) there was a famine.

  5. Yes the narrative does sound naive and overly simplistic. And the strong accent of the speaker is irritating - the story should have been told by a Dutchman who spoke fluent English.

    But the contemporary footage was and is invaluable. Who gets to see the film at the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies?

  6. The Institute has received the task to digitalise as much film as possible that has a connection with the war - basically anything filmed between about 1935 and 1950 - and make this available for free to everyone. The institute has created a designated website to access the material here:
    I wish you many hours of enjoying the material Hels.