DUTCH RESISTANCE MUSEUM
Have you ever heard of the Dutch Resistance Museum? I hadn’t either until I traveled to Amsterdam. Flying in a day prior to when my tour began, I needed something that was my choice for my free time. I’m sharing the Dutch Resistance Museum with you first because I believe it is the first place any traveler must go when visiting this city. It gives a new perspective of the country of The Netherlands, the city of Amsterdam and the people and their history during World War II.
The Dutch Resistance Museum is located in the Plantage district of Amsterdam. It’s the garden district, and it is across the street from the ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo. This is also the same neighborhood as two other pivotal sites that will be covered in the next article. The Dutch Resistance Museum has been voted the best museum in Amsterdam.
Before beginning your walk through 20th Century Dutch history, and engaging with each exhibit, take a few minutes to watch the introduction movie. It sets the stage for what you will see. It speaks to what happened and the citizens differing attitudes. As you will soon see, each person had to make a decision that would impact their lives and the lives of others.
I want you to see it now, because it does set the stage for what is to come. Click on the link below to see the full presentation. It’s only 10 minutes.
Now you know. Each person had to decide for him or herself.
ADJUST – COOPERATE – RESIST
Whatever decision that you made there were consequences. As you walk through the museum you will watch time go by. As time passes, things change. The takeover by the Germans was slow and insidious. The dictionary defines insidious as “proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects, treacherous, crafty.” That describes what you will see. The Germans came in, friendly, helpful, even getting to know people like your neighborhood beat cop. And then the changes began, insidious things at first that were designed to take away the freedom of the Jews.
The special exhibition that was displayed during my visit was devoted to the topic of food and diet. I took some some time in this room to learn the changes over time, and see how they relate to us now. I learned about the diet of the people living in occupied Netherlands, and how it changed over time as certain staples became less available or unavailable, and how the adjusted. The sign to the right states that “Sugar rationing was introduced in 1939 as a trial fur the distribution system. Everyone was entitled to one pound of sugar every two weeks.” That’s a lot of sugar!
Some items exhibited are a surprise. For instance, when the war ended, the German soldiers had to turn over their helmets. Those helmets were modified, re- purposed and sold as new items: colanders and bedpans.
RESISTANCE MUSEUM JUNIOR
You’ll also learn about the lives of the children. Within the Dutch Resistance Museum is the Resistance Museum Junior. This was created to speak to children ages 9 – 14. As such, it’s the first museum about World War II created for children to see and experience.
One of the concepts that we human beings must learn, and hopefully we learn it early, is that there are consequences to our behavior. The Dutch Resistance Museum does a fantastic job is teaching the lesson through the experience of others.
When visiting this museum, give yourself plenty of time. It will take at least a couple of hours or longer. I promise you it will be time well spent.
THE HIDING PLACE
We’ve just seen that the Dutch people had to Adjust, Cooperate or Resist. There were many people who resisted. Some of them not only resisted but determined to help those of the Jewish faith to live on while others were being sent to Concentration camps and dying.
One such family was the Ten Boom Family. This story is shared in the autobiography “The Hiding Place“, written by Cornelia “Corrie” Ten Boom. Corrie Ten Boom, her sisters, brother, her father and her family lived out their Christian faith by hiding Jewish people and helping them to escape. They didn’t just hide Jewish people, they also hid students and others who didn’t agree with the Nazi regime. The Ten Booms were betrayed and sent to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. It is estimated that they saved around 800 lives. Corrie was the only one in her family who survived the camps.
Here’s a link to the story of the Ten Boom family, how they live, how they died and how they are still remembered today. The Ten boom home is now a museum in Haarlem in the same watchmaker’s home where they lived. Tours are available from Tuesday to Saturday but they must be reserved at least 5 days in advance. Haarlem is easily reached from Amsterdam by train and is an outing well worth your time.
Has this article peaked your interest, but flying to Amsterdam isn’t possible for you right now? I have an exciting answer for you: a virtual tour of The Corrie Ten Boom Museum. To view you will need Adobe Flash Player, and choose ‘EN’ for English in the upper left navigation bar.
Of course there’s nothing like seeing it in person. I hope you have been as stirred to learn and see more as I have been. Do you like this type of travel that brings history to life? If the answer is yes, what are you waiting for? Set up an appointment and let’s begin to work together to make your history vacation a reality.