Textile Tales From The Second World War

Volendam-style skirt worn during celebrations of the liberation of the Netherlands in May 1945. Volendam-style skirt worn during celebrations of the liberation of the Netherlands in May 1945. TRC 2020.0592a

10. The liberation

The period immediately after the liberation was a festive and special time for many people, although the scarcity and poverty continued. But there was another side: apart from civilians and military killed in the war, more than 100,000 Dutch Jewish people did not return from the extermination camps in Nazi Germany.

Liberation parties

At the liberation celebrations, during which the Allies were festively welcomed, many people wore clothes in red-white-blue or orange, recalling the colours of the national Dutch flag. Many people obviously had kept hidden some textiles in those colours. Pins and other jewellery in the same colours  were worn and children were being dressed up in festive garments. At one of these parties, in Leiden, a little girl wore a Volendam-style outfit, which is now housed in the TRC collection. The little girl wearing the outfit visited the TRC and was photographed together with her Volendam outfit (see the TRC blog A fancy-dress outfit for a little girl from May 1945: reunited (Gillian Vogelsang, 7 September 2020).

Sweetheart souvenirs

Most of the soldiers who liberated the Netherlands and the rest of Europe came from America and Canada and were often away from home for a long time. Many soldiers therefore made or bought sweetheart souvenirs, such as scarves or jewellery, for their loved ones at home. Army units also produced their own sweetheart mementoes for their men, such as the R.E.M.E. scarf in this exhibition (TRC 2020.3715)

2020.3020a bPair of miniature Dutch wooden clogs, probably bought as a souvenir by a British soldier and sent home as a souvenir. (TRC 2020.3020a-b). For more information, click on the illustration.Liberation clogs

Many Dutch people gave home-made souvenirs to Allied soldiers to commemorate the liberation, such as painted clogs. These could be real clogs or miniature versions. Often it was engraved with the date "1945".

Coin jewellery

Between 1943 and 1945, the Dutch government in exile ordered large quantities of silver coins with the image of Queen Wilhelmina to be minted in the USA. On the coins, a letter below the year indicates where the coin was struck, D stands for Denver, P for Philadelphia and S for San Francisco. The coins were sent to the Netherlands after the liberation. Just as during the war, many people made coin jewellery from these coins to express their orange spirit.

For silver jewellery, see also the TRC blog, 'Dutch jewellery with silver coins from the Second World War', by Gillian Vogelsang, 20 September 2020.

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