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Under chaotic conditions between 1945 and 1950, the Netherlands Institute for War Documents (RIOD, now called the NIOD, Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies) gathered documents that would ultimately form a crucial part of its collection. Annemieke van Bockxmeer maps out the RIOD's eventful history in her doctoral thesis. It is a history that speaks volumes about the Netherlands both during and after the war. Van Bockxmeer will obtain a doctorate from the University of Amsterdam on Friday, 14 November.

De Oorlog Verzameld
Cover design: Studio Jan de Boer. Illustration: Hollandse Hoogte/Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk.

The RIOD was not the only organisation searching for as many documents from official sources as possible in the years immediately following World War II. The Central Archives for Special Criminal Jurisdiction (CABR) and the Dutch Red Cross's Information Bureau (now called the War Aftercare Department) in particular were likewise keen to track down these documents, which often created tension between the competing organisations. There was no role for the General State Archives to play in this situation because the institution was oriented towards old records and did not see the value of war archives until later. The General State Archives' powerlessness was one of the reasons why the government established the RIOD. After all, the management of politically sensitive and confidential archive materials could not be put in the hands of a private institution.

In addition to collecting official as well as unofficial documents, the RIOD also interviewed many witnesses. The institute commissioned the writing of memoirs and included diaries, letters and photos from private individuals in its collection, too.

All of this took place in an era that was marked by more than the war alone. In the decades leading up to the war, the public library as well as various documentation centres were set up. The RIOD followed this movement. In addition, a fervent interest in ‘cultural heritage’ emerged during the first half of the 20th century. This love for the fatherland increased during the war. This was not only a reaction to the German occupation; the occupying administration actually encouraged it.

Details

Ms J.M.L. van Bockxmeer: The War Collected: Creating the Collection of the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation. Supervisors: Prof. J.C.H. Blom and Prof. Prof. F.C.J. Ketelaar.
The doctoral thesis will be published by De Bezige Bij (ISBN 978 90 234 8939 9) on 14 November 2014.

Time and location

The doctoral thesis defence ceremony will take place on Friday, 14 November, at 13:00.
Location: UvA Aula, Singel 411, Amsterdam.