Associated research

From 1930 the emerging German Nazi regime had its impact on daily live in the Dutch border regions. How did the locals respond to the growing political tension at the border: the stream of German refugees, the incidents at the border crossings? The study Borderline cases 1930-1940. Conflicts and local response to political tension in the German Dutch borderland basis of local, regional and central German and Dutch archives.

Border with Germany at Beek (1927)

Researcher: drs. Jan Brauer
Duration: 2013-2017
Intended publications: dissertatie
Supervisor: Prof. dr. Peter Romijn

More information:

More and more Jewish and political refugees were crossing the Dutch-German border from 1933. The border control was intensified. This had its impact on daily live in the villages along the Dutch-German border. In these regions for ages borderers used to have friendly informal contacts. The border itself was always rather vague and did not hinder work traffic, trade and family affairs. And often people spoke the same dialect at both sides of the border. Now the border was closed and a lot of refugees fled from Germany. They settled in the Dutch border region, sometimes hoping to go back home in due time when it was save again.

This research project aims to describe the local response to the growing political tension in the Dutch-German borderland due to the rising of the Nazi regime, at the background of the central Dutch policy. The Nazi regime appeared at the border barrier and even further: with strict border control, chasing political refugees and intimidating German laborers who lived in the Netherlands. There are a lot of incidents, arrests and fights. How did authorities, villagers, police respond?

The case studies on local situations and the personal stories of this research project will contribute to regional  WW2 history. Also it will contribute to the general borderland theme (nationalism - citizenship - national identity). The study also will disclose - on the basis of German archives - unique individual stories of Dutch citizens prosecuted in border cases by the nazi regime in pre-war times. 

An early example is the labour union worker Henk Spansier from Nijmegen, who was arrested in Kleve in august  1933. He was accused of smuggling the social-democrat Exil-magazine Freie Presse across the border. A year later he was the first foreign suspect who got a trial at the Volksgerichthof in Berlin. After his imprisonment Spansier was released in 1935. He is one of the hundreds of Dutch citizens who were convicted by German tribunals in the pre-war years.