Dutch Resistance Museum
A museum in Amsterdam
about the various forms of resistance against the Nazi
occupiers during WWII
in the Netherlands
– but it also goes beyond just that. This is the richest of Amsterdam's dark sights, as far as the sheer amount of information is concerned.
>More background info
>What there is to see
>Access and costs
>Combinations with other dark destinations
>Combinations with non-dark destinations
More background info:
were occupied by Nazi Germany
from May 1940 until early 1945. As a small country it was simply overrun as it didn't have the means to stem the military might of the aggressor. At first, things weren't too bad for the ordinary people – and there wasn't all that much resistance either. But both things changed, hand in hand. The Nazis soon brought in their trademark persecution of the Jews, more and more laws of repression were enforced, and in the end the best part of the Dutch Jewry was deported and murdered in the Holocaust
One element of resistance was to hide Jews to save them from persecution – the most famous case being that of the Frank family, documented in the Anne Frank House
But there was also political resistance, both active and passive (indirect). This ranged from mere contempt for the occupiers expressed e.g. through jokes and caricatures, to the forging documents and distributing flyers, and full-blown partisan guerrilla tactics of sabotage and attacks.
Resistance in Holland never reached the levels it did in Poland
, but it was elaborate enough to grant it this museum – the fact that there was also collaboration is not swept under the carpet, though. The relative proportions of resistance and collaboration are still somewhat of a delicate issue in Holland. So it's laudable that the museum, despite its name, tries to cover both sides. It also goes beyond the topic of resistance in other respects.
What there is to see:
loads, and even more to read. In fact there is perhaps more information (generally in Dutch and English) than one can take in during a single visit to the museum, so you may have to be selective. It certainly beats the Anne Frank House
on the informational front hands down, though it may lack the individual personal edge the Anne Frank story provides. But it's much more comprehensive – and being far less popular than its more famous counterpart museum you don't get so annoyed by crowds in the Resistance Museum, which is a definite asset. Here you can really dig into the topic at your own pace.
Exhibits on display include all manner of artefacts dealing with underground activities, from the tiny (e.g. miniature coded messages on edible cigarette papers) to the large, e.g. printing machines. Often personal stories of individuals are woven in. Everywhere there's exhaustive information – on text panels mostly, but also in multimedia displays. Some of these aren't contemporary cutting edge, but still a good attempt at "mixing media", as didactics theorists call it. You can even hire an audio guide for yet more background information in yet another medium.
The museum is thematically, or rather chronologically, structured: beginning with the pre-war period and ending with sections on post-war effects. Themes covered include politics, including the Dutch Nazis, student resistance, forging documents, hiding Jews (or refusing to do so), smuggling, imprisonment, making radio devices, concealing weapons, and so on and so forth. Here too, a particular emphasis is placed on the topic of the persecution of the Jews – including the deportations to Auschwitz
(mostly via Westerbork
). It is sometimes not entirely clear which way the exhibition moves on, but you can always dip back and forth between the sections or deviate from the strict chronology.
Tagged on is a section about the Dutch colonies primarily in Indonesia
(and also about Indonesians etc. in Holland), esp. during WWII
and the Japanese occupation of the colonies. This also includes a section about the infamous Death Railway
to Burma that the Japanese built by means of POW
A separate large room to the side of the main museum is given over to changing temporary exhibitions on varying topics. At the time of my visit in spring 2009 it was about protest movements in more recent history, e.g. punks, squatters, anti-nuclear campaigners, environmental activists, the peace movement, etc.
Some stairs lead up to an area above the main exhibition which serves as an additional "information centre" – where you can browse through various books and brochures or use one of the interactive computer workstations (only in Dutch, though, as far as I could determine).
Another add-on was the exhibition consisting of a large collection of caricatures in the foyer of the museum. A glass display case next to the front desk offered a small selection of books and other material for sale.
just a bit off the main tourist trail to the east of Amsterdam
's city centre, about a mile (1.5 km) or so from the Central Station, right opposite the Artis Zoo on Plantage Kerklaan.
Access and costs: slightly off the centre, but still fairly easy; mid-price level.
Details: if you don't mind a city stroll it's still within fairly easy walking distance from the city centre – from Niewmarkt south along St Antoniesbreestraat and Jodenbreestraat, past the Jewish Historical Museum and further east past the botanical gardens on Plantage Middenlaan, then left into Kerklaan. The museum is right opposite the entrance to the zoo – so you can just as well follow the signposting for "Artis / Zoo". Or walk from the Central Station along the main road east towards the landmark "Nemo" museum over the road tunnel, carry on across the canal and then fiddle through southwards to Entrepotdok, cross the bridge and you're there. The "lazy" way to get there is taking the tram: line 9 from the Central Station or line 14 from the main Dam square, and get out at 'Plantage Middenlaan/Kerklaan', from where it is only a short walk up Kerklaan. The closest metro station is Waterlooplein, from where you can take a tram or walk the rest of the way in ca. 10 minutes.
Opening times: Mondays to Fridays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends as well as on public holidays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Christmas Day, New Year's Day and 30 April). The main exhibition is all on one floor, so possible for wheelchairs in principle, though some passages can be a bit on the narrow side.
Admission (as of summer 2012): 8 EUR (adults, regular), free with the 'Amsterdam Card', 6.50 EUR for groups (per head, minimum 10 pax). Guided tours of the museum for groups (minimum 10, max 15) are available by prior arrangement (a couple of weeks ahead at least) and cost an extra 50 EUR per group – these tours are scheduled to last only one hour, so will have to be quite selective. An alternative is borrowing an audio guide (free for the time being – but you'll have to show an ID for this) – in fact it's more than that: it's a PDA-based flexible multimedia guide – and this gives you a maximum of two hours (available in English, German and Spanish).
Time required: You could spend a day in here if you really want to take every bit of information in. Most people will want to be more selective, which is easily done. In fact, this seems to be expected – going by the various guided group tours that were rushing past me during my visit. The PDA-audio guides are available for a maximum of two hours. That amount of time seems to be a reasonable compromise for just walking around too.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
in general see Amsterdam
– as at the Anne Frank House
you can pick up a (0.50 EUR) brochure/map at the Resistance Museum outlining a walking trail of "persecution and resistance in Amsterdam" at the time of WWII
(it roughly follows the course of tram line 14, in case you want to skip bits). The trail mostly takes you past sites where nothing much (if anything at all) of can still be seen today of what once made them significant in whatever way (e.g. the former border of the Jewish quarter, no longer visible, or a building into which a warplane had crashed, all traces of which have long been repaired). So it all remains quite abstract. However, it also incorporates the large Jewish Historical Museum, the deportation memorial site of the Hollandsche Schouwburg, as well as a few monuments, and, most significantly, it ends at the Anne-Frank-House
The latter is perfectly complemented by the Resistance Museum with its rich information about the historical background, which at the Anne Frank House is rather scant. In fact, if you only have time for one of the two, I'd recommend favouring the Resistance Museum over the Anne Frank House, if it's educational information and contemplation of the dark topic that you're after rather than just ticking off the more famous site.
Combinations with non-dark destinations:
in general see Amsterdam
– as noted, the zoo is right opposite, so for people who like zoos, this is the most obvious and easiest combination.