Verzetsmuseum: Resistance and the War

I know I promised a review of the Sex Museum in Amsterdam but after visiting there isn’t really much to say. It’s a museum…about sex. You get the picture. There were some interesting parts – women’s lingerie dating back to the 19th century until today. Only visit if you have time to kill.

I should have premised these entries by stating that I have been to Amsterdam before. I spent ten days here early last year and saw all the big museums then such as the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum etc. This visit was more a refresher for the Maritime Museum exhibit. Since I have had some time left over I’ve been lucky enough to see the other museums Amsterdam has to offer. The ones I didn’t get round to seeing last time.

Entrance to Dutch Resistance Museum
Entrance to Dutch Resistance Museum.

Today I dedicated two hours to the Verzetsmuseum, the museum of Dutch Resistance. Apart from America under Kennedy, the Second World War is what really got me interested in history. There is something so horrifyingly fascinating surrounding it. We all know the story of Anne Frank (another museum I have previously visited) but I was very eager to see more and learn more about this period from a Dutch perspective. I don’t want to get into the history of the museum too much because it’s dense, very dense. A lot of wonderful stories that you should come and see for yourself.

Instead I’ll begin by reviewing the museum itself. To start, the audio guide was amazing. Throughout the museum were 32 audio guide locations. Each one spoke about an aspect of Dutch resistance to or collaboration with the Nazi party. After about one to two minutes of commentary you were given the option for more information on a number of themes briefly spoken about in the introduction. I love this style of audio guide. It caters to many more people. I also loved how it sort of coerced you into learning more. For example, one section of the museum focused on the colour orange and how it was used in the resistance movement. After a little spiel the audio guide said something along the lines of: Press A if you want to hear about how a baby’s name led to incarceration in a concentration camp. How could you not Press A!

The feminist in me absolutely loved the section on women’s resistance and the story of the “red-haired” girl. Women played such a vital role in Dutch resistance and I was so glad to see their contribution recognised. The audio guide for this section really stood out in my opinion with so much extra information and wonderful objects to accompany.

Besides the audio guide, the layout of the museum was fantastic. At first glance it looks a bit confusing with lots of rooms breaking off here and there. However, once you get started it becomes more logical. An absolutely amazing room to see is the cinema that plays a bit of a Dutch film and then Nazi propaganda that movie audiences would have watched. The audio guide said something in this room that will probably resonate with me for a long time. Although a lot of movie-goers would have been “anti-nazi” they still went and sat through the ads just to escape the outside world. They knew the ads would come on but it was a small price to pay in order to see a film and be transported momentarily. It was a comment on the human condition and although a throw away line in the audio guide I think it was the most powerful.

My favourite object from the museum is pictured below. A skirt created from sections of different fabrics sewn together. This skirt was worn at a celebration festival when the war ended. Each fabric segment was from an item of clothing that was significant to the owner. This was just a beautiful item to see – someone’s heart and soul poured into making an item of clothing used for celebration.

Celebration skirt in the Dutch Resistance Museum.

Overall the museum was definitely an experience I won’t forget. It is important to recognize that resistance came in many forms and the stories of those who played even a minor role should not be forgotten.

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