Table of contents

Overview of the World War II Posters collection

  • Contents: large collection of Dutch posters from the Second World War (1940-1945).
  • Size: more than 5.000 posters.
  • Access: all posters are available via Delpher. Descriptions can be found in the printed collection catalogue of the KB’s poster collection (Bestandcatalogus Afficheverzameling Koninklijke Bibliotheek, 1992).
  • More informationPaul van Capelleveen.

About the World War II Posters collection

The KB’s World War II poster collection consists of Dutch posters and placards from 1940-1945. During World War II, posters were an important propaganda tool for the German occupying forces. The often colourful posters were stuck on signs, walls and advertising columns. They were used in an attempt to influence people with commanding slogans and gripping images.

Different genres

There were different genres. For example, posters were used for official announcements, such as new measures taken by the German occupying forces. Posters were also used as a way of providing information. They called on the population to avoid the black market or protect themselves from air raids, for example. The posters also served as propaganda and recruitment material, for example by encouraging men to join the Waffen SS. The KB collection also includes propaganda posters published by the Japanese occupying forces in what were then the Dutch East Indies. The illegal resistance movement also used posters to distribute messages.

Origin of the collection

The KB’s collection of World War II posters was created following a 1944 appeal by Radio Oranje in London to preserve materials related to the war. This appeal was repeated after the Netherlands was liberated, and people were asked to send the preserved materials to the Netherlands Government Bureau for War Documentation (RIOD), nowadays the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD), founded on 8 May 1945. Those posters were transferred to the KB in late 1984, for restoration. The collection is jointly owned by the KB and NIOD and is kept at the KB.

Accessibility of the collection

All posters have been digitised and are available through Delpher. You can find descriptions in registers in the printed Bestandcatalogus Afficheverzameling Koninklijke Bibliotheek (1992). The collection at the KB is a permanent collection: the posters are only lent occasionally. You can view the collection in the Special Collections reading room. We also organise presentations for groups on request.

Related collections

In addition to this collection, the KB has a large collection of clandestine and illegal literature published during World War II. We also have a collection of propaganda and Nazi literature, including many publications by the National Socialist Movement (NSB). In addition, we have a collection of emigrant literature, the Exil collection.

Literature

Article

  • Goossens, W. ‘Het restauratieprojekt van de collectie affiches uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek’. De Boekenwereld 4, 1987/1988, pp. 177-180.

Book

  • Bestandcatalogus Afficheverzameling Koninklijke Bibliotheek. Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst, 1992.