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1940 Nederland in Oorlogstijd 1945

  • Author: MEYER, Hans (artist)
  • Publisher: Stichting 1940-1945, Amsterdam
  • Date: c1947
  • Dimensions: 71 x 101 cms


Dutch pictorial map published soon after World War II, depicting the impact of & responses to German invasion & occupation.

About this piece:

1940 Nederland in Oorlogstijd 1945

Colour-printed lithographic map in large poster format. Ample margins. Fine condition.

This remarkable pictorial map of the Netherlands was designed and printed by the Amsterdam graphic artist, Frans Meyer [1900-1972] as part of a post-war fund-raising campaign by the so-called Stichting 1940-1945. 

The Stichting had originally been formed in October 1944 (as Stichting 1940-1944) at a meeting of some 20 different Dutch resistance organisations at No.567 Keizersgracht in Amsterdam, which at that time was still under German control. Allied troops were progressing steadily in liberating the South of the country and it was anticipated that the whole country would soon be completely freed from German occupation. The aims & principles of the organisation were initially outlined as follows:

The Foundation’s purpose is to provide for the moral, mental and material needs of persons or groups of persons who have contributed to domestic resistance during the occupation by act or attitude and for their families or survivors if they will prove to be needed after the end of hostilities in our country or a large part of it.

By the time the war ended in May 1945, Stichting 1940-1945 had become the principal support organisation for former Dutch resistance members and their families. Throughout the war years, local resistance organisations in Holland had provided financial support & sustenance to the widows & families of their members and for those who had been wounded or disabled as a result of their wartime resistance work. It was felt that this support should, of necessity, continue once Liberation came & peace was finally declared. And so it transpired in the immediate post-war years.

The map is drawn on a scale of 1:500,000, and first appeared in 1947 with a price tag of just a single Dutch guilder. It appears to have been extremely popular and remained in print until the mid-1950s.

The central pictorial map of the Netherlands depicts the unfolding stages of the war beginning with the Invasion of May 1940, vividly portrayed by the advancing German troops, Panzers and Junkers-52 planes crossing the country’s Eastern border. A symbolic Dutch soldier in green uniform lies prostrate beside a cross at De Grebbe, site of an important defensive line  – similar to the French Maginot line – which ran south from the Ijsselmeer, and included Holland’s only hill, the Grebbeberg. Both the Grebbeline & Grebbeberg were quickly overrun in the initial German advance into Holland between May 11th & 14th.  Rotterdam in depicted in flames after intense German bombardment (with the loss of some two thousand lives) in the ensuing days  and despite having been declared an “open city” by the Dutch authorities, whilst German paratroopers can be seen dropping from the skies overhead.

In the next stage, numerous small sailing ships – the so-called Englandvaaders – can be seen leaving the Dutch shores, passing through the line of German coastal mines, to cross the North Sea to England and freedom. Several German labour camps are marked, including the two most notorious at Vught (in the south) and Westerbork (in the north), whence trains regularly departed for the concentration camps in Germany. Other camps are marked at Amersfort and St.Michelsgestel, near Vught, a camp for the Dutch intellectual & artistic elite, where a German guard can be seen wielding a whip over a group of prisoners. Further illustrations depict the executions of Dutch civilians and resistance fighters (notably at Schoorl, on the coast) and the notorious reprisal raid on the village of Putten in October 1944, which saw almost the entire male population of the settlement – some 600 men – taken and deported to German concentration camps.

In the next stage, the war is nearing its end. The polder flooded by the Germans near the mouth of the Ijsselmeer is visible as also the inundation of Walcheren in the south-west, following the Allied bombing of the dykes in preparation for the amphibious landings there in Nov 1944. Precious indigenous supplies of material and food, including cattle, are seen being shipped across the border to Germany, resulting in widespread hunger within Holland. Long columns of bedraggled & starving Dutch civilians, accompanied by the symbolic figure of Death (“an ever-present companion”) march northwards towards the welcoming region of Friesland, where innumerable fugitives, Jews and resistance fighters had been hidden & sheltered in the remote countryside throughout the war years.

The final stage is Liberation Day, represented by a column of free Dutch & Allied troops which marches into the country from the South East. An Allied bomber drops food supplies over celebrating crowds, whilst on Texel Island, in the extreme north, reference is made to the ill-fated uprising of several hundred Georgian POWs against their German captors in the final weeks of the war.

Around the borders of the map, twenty scroll work vignettes, reminiscent of those that embellished sixteenth century maps, vividly depict scenes from the Occupation, especially in relation to German wartime oppression & Dutch resistance activities: the identification & persecution of Dutch Jews; the use of secret radios and subversive anti-German propaganda; the promotion of resistance by pastors & priests from the church pulpit; nocturnal sabotage; the hiding of weapons; German reprisal raids; forced labour; imprisonment in the bleak surroundings of the Vught labour camp; and eventually the final advent of Allied food drops and Liberation – the final vignette top right depicts celebrating crowds outside Amsterdam’s Town Hall on Liberation Day, May 5th 1945.

Several examples of this map are known in Dutch institutional collections though it seems relatively few survive in the very fine condition of this particular example.

The Chairman of IMCOS, Hank Kok, a well-known Dutch map collector & expert on maritime charts, had provided a detailed & well-illustrated description of this map in two fine articles published in Dutch and English in 2012 & 2013 respectively (see below).

Refs: Hans Kok: De Tweede Wereldoorlog in Nederland. Een “beeldige” samenvatting van een moeilijke periode in kaart gebracht door de Stichting 1940-1945 – Kaart Thresoor No.3 (2012) pp.85-90; Hans Kok “1940 Nederland in Oorlogstijd 1945” – a pictorial resumé of a difficult period charted by the Stichting 1940-1945 in Amsterdam – IMCOS Journal No.134 (Autumn 2013), pp.14-21.