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the war that stayed with us opens at the national archives

2020-02-20

From 21 February onwards, the exhibition The War that Stayed with Us will be shown at the National Archives in The Hague. Tinker imagineers was commissioned by the National Archives to create a concept and design that would do justice to the personal and emotionally charged stories behind over 9 kilometres of war archives. In this unique multiperspective set-up, visitors will experience the complexity of the aftermath of the Second World War.

The War that Stayed With Us  is an exhibition about the challenges the Netherlands faced after the Second World War. Trying collaborators and war criminals, dealing with the legacy and possessions of disappeared and deported people, and registering and searching for hundreds of missing and murdered people. And then there was the situation in the Dutch East Indies, where a new period of violence began after the capitulation of the Japanese.  

To this day, the National Archives play an important role in the process of establishing the truth and interpreting the historical events. The exhibition offers a unique multiperspective view of the years after the liberation of the Netherlands, 75 years ago. Visitors are introduced to different people and their stories, which turn out to be more complex and nuanced than you’d think at first sight. Some situations that seemed clear-cut after the war may merit re-evaluation.   

Upon entering, visitors walk straight into the exuberant mood of the liberation, but when they – literally – step through this image, they find themselves in a completely different reality. The world of public revenge and arrests. Next, visitors are invited to enter 'the archives' and follow a timeline along filing cabinets, where key moments from the aftermath of the war are shown on the pillars.   

The four themed rooms – Murdered & Missing, Robbed, Tried, and Displaced – show personal stories from the archive. Visitors find themselves in a courtroom, for instance, and witness the trial of Max Blokzijl, a journalist who was sentenced to death even before Anton Mussert. Or they end up between removal boxes, where they meet Countess Wolff Metternich, whose castle was seized by the Dutch authorities. An audio-visual podcast adds an exceptional multiperspective layer to these stories. What role do the personal documents and official records from the National Archives play in this story? What do they tell us? How did the media handle this topic at the time? And how do we view it today? Visitors will experience first-hand that many events from the period are not that easy to interpret after all.  

Finally, nine interviewees recount how the war remained part of their lives, what information they found in the archives, and what it meant to them. To conclude, visitors receive pointers on how to start their own personal searches in the archives.  

The War that Stayed With Us  can be visited from 21 February 2020 to June 2021.