Dutch term – Dodenherdenking

Dam palace filled with people commemorating the dead

Dodenherdenking means commemoration of the dead. On May 4th, we commemorate all the war victims since the outbreak of World War II. The next day, on May 5th, we celebrate our liberty. The dates are chosen because 5 May 1945 was the day of the German capitulation, which ended World War II in the Netherlands. On Dodenherdenking, the whole country … [Read more...]

Finding collaborators in World War II

young girls with their heads shaven walking in procession

With the 70th anniversary of our liberation coming up next week, I thought I would discuss one of the most important record groups for research into World War II. During World War II, several Dutch citizens collaborated with the German occupation: some joined the National Socialist Movement (NSB), others betrayed Jews or were romantically … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – Are there any records of people who helped Jews in World War II?

Westerbork monument, the place from where most Jews were transported to the camps in Eastern Europe. Credits:

Earlier this week, Kirk Payne wrote the following comment: I have a request that might stump you. My wife’s immediate ancestors immigrated to the US in the early 20th Century. Most of her great- and great-great Aunts and Uncles remained in the Netherlands. She had a cousin ask us if we’d seen any records showing her relatives having helped the … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Visit the virtual Jewish monument

Auschwitz main gate with the text 'Arbeit macht frei'

Today we commemorate that Camp Auschwitz was liberated 70 years ago. I visited the camp with my class in high school and it made a lasting impression on me. We saw rooms packed with children's shoes, toothbrushes, toys, and then read that it was just 1% of the total number that had been collected. Each one representing a tragic story. The … [Read more...]

My Great-Aunt’s Polish Lover

Allied soldier hugged by girls.

Seventy years ago today, on 29 October 1944, the city of Breda in the Netherlands was liberated by the Polish Panzer Division. For the people of Breda, World War II had come to an end. Everybody was celebrating and girls flocked around the tanks to thank the brave men who had freed them from the Nazis. One of them was my great-aunt, Riet … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Bevrijding

Allied soldier hugged by girls.

Bevrijding means 'liberation.' On 5 May 1945, the Netherlands was liberated from the German occupation. Every year on this day, we celebrate "Bevrijdingsdag" (Liberation Day) to commemorate this event. … [Read more...]

Column: Best find


When you are at a birthday party and tell people you are into genealogy, the first question you often get is "How far back were you able to go?" If they haven't lost all interest after hearing your stories about tracing some lines to the Middle Ages and getting stuck on some illegitimate children in the 19th century on other lines, a second … [Read more...]

Question: Finding a WWII soldier’s child?

Allied soldier hugged by girls.

In response to an article about Post World War II emigration, Jane Carter asked: I am looking for a lady in Holland that was my father’s girlfriend. My father has passed now but I have been told that this lady had my father's child. I know little more then her first name and an old picture she sent my father many years ago. With such little … [Read more...]

Liberation day

Logo commemoration May 4 and 5

On May 5th we celebrate the end of World War II and the liberation by the allied forces. This year the celebrations are especially large since it is the 60th anniversary. … [Read more...]