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Still van het perron in Kamp Westerbork, Westerborkfilm, 1944.
Projects

The Dutch National Railways during the Second World War

On 1 January 2021, the pilot project on the Dutch National Railways during the Second World War was launched. This research is carried out at the request of the Dutch Railways, in response to the 2019 advice of the Committee on Individual Compensation for the Victims of WW II Transports by the Dutch Railways. The Committee noted that the perspective of ‘wartime transports’ had never been the subject of thorough historical research. The aim of the project is to gain an understanding of the actions and policies of the Dutch Railways, particularly with regard to the transports commissioned by the occupying forces, in the light of the political-administrative relations of those years. The study will run for one year and is meant to answer the question of whether a more extensive research project is sensible and feasible. If this pilot study shows that the answer is positive, the Dutch Railways will commission NIOD to do so.

The exploratory research will examine whether it is possible to find answers to the central question that the Dutch Railways board wants answered with a view to deepening the organisation’s historical understanding: the question regarding the policy of the Dutch Railways during the Second World War and to what extent the company itself can be held responsible for both its policy and the resulting actions. The central focus is on the transports of the hundreds of thousands of Dutch people, starting with the Jews, Roma and Sinti, from which the company acquired its income at the time. These questions are considered in a broader political-administrative and - where necessary - international context.

Areas of focus for the preliminary investigation

The preliminary investigation focuses on an exploration of three areas of interest:

  1. The administrative relations and the interaction between (1) the Dutch authorities; (2) the occupying forces; (3) various authorities in the Reich; (4) the Dutch National Railways, and (5) the Reichsbahn;
  2. The practice of the transports: the logistical and financial organisation, its course;
  3. The different groups of deportees: Jews and people who were considered Jews, Roma and Sinti, political prisoners or resistance fighters, forced labourers, prisoners of war, homosexuals, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

The results of the preliminary research will be made public after its completion.

 

 

Funded by: The Dutch National Railways

Team composition

Wetenschappelijke adviescommissie: Hubert Berkhout, Johannes  Houwink ten Cate, Joggli Meihuizen, Jantje Steenhuis, Freek Ypeij, Ellen van der Waerden. 

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