One of the images sent in: At the Buitenhof in the centre of The Hague, the German Wehrmacht hold a propaganda march on 30 January 1943 to celebrate a decade of Nazi rule in Germany.

Last November saw the start of a nationwide quest: people living in every province were asked to suggest ideas for photographs that effectively capture the Netherlands’ wartime history. At events held in the provinces on 15 January, 50 photographs were announced for each province. From these, members of the public who attended were able to choose photographs for the national competition.

President Arib viewed the photographs on Thursday, 30 January 2020. “I consider it an honour to be able to chair the judging panel and this working meeting. It was great being able to talk about the photographs with the panel. Sometimes, pictures can say so much more than words. Every individual photo hides a personal story. Today’s meeting resulted in some very poignant conversations”, she said during the event.

Familiar and unfamiliar

The exhibition and the public pre-selection that led to it are part of the Netherlands’ celebration of 75 years of freedom. It was inspired by the idea that photographs are the main way of making the past visible, as the war years gradually recede into the ever-more distant past. The quest has unearthed some familiar and unfamiliar materials, including images from the Dutch East Indies, Suriname and the Antilles. The public contributed by sending in hundreds of photographs.

Proud of the exhibition

The panel, led by President of the House of Representatives Khadija Arib, chose the final 100 photographs from those that had been preselected. Khadija Arib: “In Parliament, we’re also marking 75 years of freedom. This special initiative fits in with that. It shows how, 75 years later, there’s still so much that we don’t know. Every individual photo hides a personal story, and a personal family history. Although some of them may be harrowing, it’s good that these stories are being passed down to the next generations. I’m extremely proud that, starting on 30 March, the photographs will be exhibited in the House of Representatives at the very heart of our Dutch democracy and free society.”

Travelling exhibition

NOS will broadcast the opening live on 30 March. In April, the 'Month of Freedom', there will be a travelling ’pop-up’ exhibition in each province featuring the province's choice of 50 photographs. Full information about the project can be found at