Local governance between occupying power and citizens

This project is funded by the special program for the 75th anniversary of the liberation, Mondriaan Fund 2021-2024. For more information, please contact the project coordinator Wim van Meurs,


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.

Project staff

  • Martijn Lak, Senior Lecturer for European Studies at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam; specialised in postwar Dutch-German relations, contemporary German history, early European integration, military and the Second World War.
  • Susan Scherpenisse, historian and archivist at the Erfgoedcentrum Nederlands Kloosterleven, specialised in the history of the Second World War, memory and gespecialiseerd in geschiedenis van de Tweede Wereldoorlog, herinneringscultuur and monastic life in the 20th century.
  • Wim van Meurs, chair for European political history at the Radboud University Nijmegen since 2017, specialised in policy studies, Eastern Europe, democratic transitions, European integration, nature and environment, and initiator of the think tank Advies en Actualiteit.
  • Annebel Spanjersberg, historian, specialised in education and public history, edcuational coordinator and tutor.
  • Ingrid van der Vlis, self-employed historian for Historisch Onderzoeksbureau Tijdelijk, researcher, author, editor, specialised in social and local history, the history of youth, charity, post-war daily life in the Netherlands.
  • Laura de Jong
  • Maud Ramakers, historian, coordinator of education at the Radboud University Nijmegen.