Gemeentebestuur Middelburg, 1941
Gemeentebestuur Middelburg, 1941

Local governance between occupying power and citizens

2021 until 2024
Project member(s)
Prof. Meurs, W.P. van (Wim) , Brinkhorst, L. (Laura) , Jong, L. de (Laura) , Dr Lak, M. (Martijn) , Ramakers, M.M.A. (Maud) , Scherpenisse, S. (Susan) , Spanjersberg, A. (Annebel) , Vlis, I. van der (Ingrid) , Vriend, M. (Mirjam)
Project type

During the German occupation and in the post-war years, provincial and municipal officials and civil servants faced major challenges. The government in exile had order them to collaborate with the  occupying forces - a balancing act of Nazi orders, own initiative and expectations/needs of the civilian population. For those collaborators, the day of reckoning  came with the post-war liberation. The decentralised levels of government of provinces and municipalities has remained under-studied in the historical research on the war. This comparative research focuses on the government of the provinces of Zeeland, Gelderland and Groningen and on a number of cities in each province. The reconstruction of relevant policy fields (a.o. law and order, food supply, infrastructure) and especially biographies of individual officials and civil servants offers the visitor of the web exhibition and the reader of the book ample opportunity for historical empathy. And insights into the everyday life of citizens and governments beyond the all too familiar story of the Second World War, and in the peripherial regions of the Netherlands.


Subproject 1: Biography

  • Title: How did the careers of (political and civil service) administrators at municipal and provincial level develop?
  • Researchers: Maud Ramakers and Laura de Jong

Subproject 2: Policy

  • Title: What room for action did local administrators have and use in policy-making and implementation in the force field during the occupation and liberation?
  • Researchers: Martijn Lak and Susan Scherpenisse

Subproject 3: Judgement

  • Title: On the basis of what standards and expectations were public opinion (media) and the judiciary judging the actions of administrators during occupation time?
  • Researchers: Annebel Spanjersberg and Wim van Meurs

Related projects

This project has intersections with other research projects focusing on governance at the regional and local level during and after World War II.

Crime in war time

Asset management after the Second World War


This project is funded by the special program for the 75th anniversary of the liberation, Mondriaan Fund 2021-2024. 


Contact information