Failures and Mistakes: Images of collaboration in postwar Dutch society

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


In Onderdrukking en verzet (Repression and Resistance), the first comprehensive history of World War II in the Netherlands, Henk van Randwijk discussed the distinction between goed and fout, right and wrong. According to van Randwijk, who was editor of the underground newspaper Vrij Nederland, this was a distinction used extensively during the war to differentiate between those “one could trust and with whom one could share the secrets of underground and open resistance” and those “about whom one could not say this with 100 percent certainty.” While acknowledging that it was a very crude distinction of limited use, Van Randwijk claimed it was necessary in times when “even minimal knowledge in the hands of the wrong people might have had the worst consequences.” However, applying it after the war had ended would lead to “grave injustice. … to wit, when the danger had passed, there was room for more subtle distinctions. From then on, it was no longer a matter of self-protection but of a sense of justice.” Quoting the last minister of the interior of the Dutch government-in-exile

in London, Jaap Burger, Van Randwijk stressed the difference between fout, as a matter of ideological conviction, and fouten begaan, making mistakes, due to a flawed judgment of the situation. The latter was very often the case, according to van Randwijk, since mentally the Netherlands was completely unprepared for the war. Although the nature of the Nazi regime was clear to anyone prepared to look across the eastern border, in the first years of the occupation many had hoped to negotiate a fair deal with the Germans, thus preserving at least part of the nation’s pride and independence. Only a few understood immediately the true nature of Nazi Germany and acted accordingly.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCollaboration with the Nazis
Subtitle of host publicationPublic Discourse after the Holocaust
EditorsR Stauber
Place of PublicationLondon /New York
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780203851715
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Specialized histories (international relations, law)
  • Literary theory, analysis and criticism
  • Culturele activiteiten
  • Overig maatschappelijk onderzoek


Dive into the research topics of 'Failures and Mistakes: Images of collaboration in postwar Dutch society'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this