‘Long live Amsterdam’, ‘The Netherlands free!’: unique acquisitions about the February strike in the Resistance Museum
During the period of the annual commemoration of the February strike on February 25, the Resistance Museum will be presenting a number of recent acquisitions from February 23 to March 23, 2023 that shed light on unknown aspects of the strike.
Effects as far as North Brabant
Special is a poster announcing that the Wehrmacht has taken over authority in North Holland because of the unrest on 26 February 1941. Small orange papers were pasted on it with ‘Long live Amsterdam’ and ‘The Netherlands free!’. The poster is not from Amsterdam or North Holland, but from Breda. Threatening posters were also hung there to prevent the unrest from spreading. According to the Breda police, the strips were the work of local communists. The poster proves that the strike also had an effect in Brabant.
Strike report for the government in London
A second very remarkable acquisition is a handwritten letter, recently found in a book at a flea market, with a detailed account of the February Strike in Amsterdam. “Public anger rose to the top,” writes the author, using the fake name “Tijl Ulenspiegel,” after describing how the Germans carried off young Jewish men “by truckloads.” “On Tuesday 25.2.41, the general strike broke out spontaneously, which was absolutely general, except for vital companies such as gas, water supply and electricity. N.S.F., Fokker, Scheepsbouw, Werkspoor, tram, Bijenkorf, banks, municipal companies were at a standstill.’ The letter was addressed to the Dutch consulate in Lisbon, in neutral Portugal, in order to reach the government in exile in London. Sender: ‘G.E. fin. Geert’ [fictitious]. The letter never arrived in London and according to a stamp on the envelope was sent by the German censors in Berlin ‘Zurück an Absender’: a non-existent address.
Self-portrait and farewell letter from one of the eighteen dead
On March 4, 1941, three Februaristakers were shot dead with 15 other resistance fighters on the Waalsdorpervlakte. Jan Campert wrote the famous resistance poem about them: The song of the eighteen dead. One of those killed was the communist and artist Eduard Hellendoorn (1912-1941), who had called for a strike at the gate of metal companies in North Amsterdam. The museum recently acquired several poignant self-portraits of him and his farewell letter. “Don’t worry about it, we don’t have fear,” Hellendoorn wrote to his mother shortly before his execution. As a human being I have lived with ideals and have done what I could for others.
Resistance Museum, acquisitions February strike, 23 February to 23 March 2023, Plantage Kerklaan 61