History of the Collection
Already by 1943, Professor N.W. Posthumus, the first Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation - Rijksinstituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie - had begun, at great personal risk, to collect Dutch underground newspapers. After the Dutch liberation, the collecting of this type of material was continued in a systematic manner.
The originators of the underground press could be found among all groups of the population. Social class, religion, age, or gender had become irrelevant. All worked towards the same goal. In Zaandam, for instance, the makers of an underground newspaper received their paper, at one time, from the Calvinist newspaper, Trouw, and their ink from the communist De Waarheid.
Many of the printers of underground papers were shot by German soldiers or lost their lives in concentration camps. Others continued their work, and succeeded in coping with almost unsolvable material difficulties. The Dutch underground press inspired many to resist repression, and throughout the Second World War it remained a source of inspiration for a nation suffering a brutal occupation.
The Dutch Underground Press, 1940-1945: Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation Microfiche Collection is a massive collection of 1,831 microfiche of underground material, and it supplies an excellent overview of the extent to which the Dutch resisted German occupation during the Second World War. The more restrictive the regime became, the more the need for news was felt and expressed. For 1941, for example, one hundred-and-twenty publications have been recorded. By 1944, when news of the Allied invasion started to spread, more than five hundred news bulletins were issued. This IDC collection is the most complete one available: as such, it is a marvellous tribute to all those who bravely risked their lives for both the freedom of their nation and the freedom of the press.
The catalogue to the collection, The Dutch Underground Press, 1940-1945: Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation, 4 pts. ([Zug]: IDC, 1987), is shelved in the main Reading Room below the place catalogue (guardbooks). It is an IDC adaptation of the original collection's catalogue, produced by Lydia Emmy Winkel in 1954 and entitled De Ondergrondse Pers, 1940-1945, and it has been brought up to date by taking account of additions to the collection since 1954. Each title in the catalogue contains information - as far as is known - about place, time, and frequency of publication, as well as remarks on the form and content of the papers. A topographical index of the newspapers has also been added.
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7377