Western Europe 1939-1945: Occupation

How did occupation affect peoples’ lives?

Extracts from a British intelligence report on the German occupation of the Netherlands, 9th September 1940

Holland under occupation; FO 371.24392

Holland under occupation; FO 371.24392 Holland under occupation; FO 371.24392

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What is this source?

This is part of a report written by officials in the British intelligence services. The main purpose of the report was to get an idea of morale among German troops in Holland and also of the Dutch people under Nazi rule.


The opening section of this document states that the information came from an ‘absolutely first class source in Amsterdam’. So the British were convinced that this was an accurate report.

What’s the background to this source?

After invading Poland, Hitler’s forces invaded Denmark and Norway. After that, Hitler turned his attention to Belgium, Holland and France. By mid June all three countries had surrendered.


The Netherlands was very important to the Nazis because it had important ports that could be used for shipping supplies and for the war effort.

It’s worth knowing that...

As in Norway, the experience of the people of the Netherlands during the war is still being debated and can sometimes be a sensitive issue. There is no doubt that there was heroic resistance by Dutch people but there was also collaboration as well.


Although there were relatively few Dutch Jews, a very high proportion of them were turned over to the authorities and sent to labour camps. The most famous example was Anne Frank, whose diary has been read by millions.

Does this source support the drawing by T. Cuneo?

  1. What do we learn about relations between the Dutch people and the German soldiers?
  2. Do you think that conditions for civilians in the Netherlands were similar or different to those in Poland? Explain your answer as fully as possible.
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this document as evidence of what it was like to live under Nazi rule?

Use this table to record your views.