The Netherlands was neutral during WWII, but German forces invaded the country on 10 May 1940. Although the royal family and government fled, the army fought back, despite being ill-prepared and poorly equipped to defeat Germany’s well-trained forces. With the Germans carrying out a vicious assault on Rotterdam that resulted in bombing civilian targets, Holland was surrendered to them, placing the safety of innocent lives above the country’s freedom.
There were 205,901 Dutch men and women who died of war-related causes by the end of the war. Of all the German-occupied countries in Western Europe, the Netherlands had the highest death rate per capita. Some people accused of collaborating with the Germans were lynched or otherwise punished without trial after the war. The Dutch society was profoundly affected by World War II. Netherlands commemorates those who died in World War I on 4 May. The first and second generations of the living still bear the emotional scars of the war.
Below are some fascinating vintage photos of the Netherland in the 1940s.