A lockdown on Liberation Day means the perfect opportunity to catch up on some Dutch war flicks. Hide out from the virus outside and delve deep into the trials and tribulations experienced during the last major war.
We’ve done the legwork to find the top Dutch war movies that you can’t miss. They’re available on all major (Dutch) streaming platforms, and the majority of these are in English or have English options, but there are a few chances to use your Dutch too. Here’s what you should be watching on May 5 if you want to know more about WWII in the Netherlands.
There are many great films about the war in the Netherlands, our list would become too long if we would all mention these. So here are our suggestions:
A Bridge Too Far
This is perhaps one of the most famous WWII movies to date. Released in 1977 and directed by Richard Attenborough, this movie features an all-star cast, including Sean Connery, Michael Caine, and Ryan O’Neale.
The plot is based on the true story of Operation Market Garden, the Allies failed operation to speed up the end of World War II. Thousands of paratroopers are dropped over the Netherlands in an attempt to take the towns of Eindhoven, Nijmegen, and Arnhem before British forces arrived by land. The movie itself is gigantic and mostly shot in the Netherlands.
Why we love this film: Stunning cinematography and a cast to admire: this is a WWII epic for the ages. Plus, you get to watch James Bond try to take down down Nazis — who could want more?
Where to watch it: YouTube
Translated as ‘War Secrets’, this is the perfect movie to watch if your Dutch is up to scratch (or you have a very patient Dutch-speaker in your house). Oorlogsgeheimen follows the story of Tuur and Lambert, two best friends in Limburg in 1943. A new girl, Maartje, begins in their class and makes friends with Tuur.
Maartje shares a terrible secret with Tuur, which Tuur cannot reveal to anyone — even his best friend Lambert, whose father has become mayor. Tuur’s family joins the resistance, but as the situation heats up, Tuur and his family are forced to flee.
Why we love this film: Packed with a riveting storyline and vintage Dutch vibes, this film perfectly encapsulates the sometimes slow, but often abrupt, changes to village life during WWII.
Where to watch it: Videoland
Anne Frank: The Whole Story
We can’t write an article about Dutch WWII movies without including arguably the most worldwide famous victim of the Holocaust, Anne Frank. While there have been huge numbers of movies made about the Jewish teenager who hid out with her family in a secret room in Amsterdam before ending up in Auschwitz, Anne Frank: The Whole Story captures the story incredibly well.
This movie starts in 1939, while Anne writes in her diary about typical teenage life and pre-war fears, the invasion of the Netherlands, her hideout in Amsterdam, deportation to Auschwitz, and the eventual survival and return of Anne’s father, now alone. The major downside to this film is that for some reason all the Dutch people unexplainably have British accents.
Why we love this film: Anne Frank’s story has managed to captivate the world, and this film is a perfect visual window into her life.
Where to watch it: YouTube
Memories of Anne Frank (Anne Frank: Mijn Beste Vriendin)
Another Anne Frank movie? Naturally. This one is a little different though because it’s told through the eyes of her close school friend, Hanneli Goslar. Hanneli was also Jewish, and was eventually deported with her family to the Westerbork transit camp, but was briefly reunited with Anne at Bergen-Belsen where she passes her some bread and socks.
Particularly special about Hanneli’s story is that she survived the war. She’s appeared in multiple documentaries about her experience and her knowledge of Anne, while this movie is based on her memoir.
It’s worth noting that this movie was inexplicably produced by Italians, with Italian actors — but it’s ridiculously well dubbed in English, to the point where I stared at it and had to move my lips to check. To be honest, I’m still not particularly convinced. Bonus: it has Dutch subtitles, so you can practice some Dutch along the way.
Why we love this film: Simultaneously an insider and outsider look into the life of Anne Frank, this movie is a tearjerker and will bring on all the feels.
Where to watch it: Videoland
A film not so much about remembering the victims of the Holocaust, as revealing the crimes of a Dutch man, Riphagen (The Untouchable) is based on the true story of a man who apparently profiteered from the war. Dries Riphagen was a Dutch gangster who collaborated with the Nazis to locate Dutch Jews and deliver them to concentration camps — or was he playing the Germans and actually helping the innocent?
Why we love this film: There’s something about watching bad people that means we just can’t look away — and from the looks of it, this guy is really bad.
Where to watch it: Netflix
Language: Dutch, with English subtitles
Band of Brothers
Not a movie but a series, and only 2,5-ish episodes play out in the Netherlands. But Band of Brothers is undeniably an unmissable piece of work about the war. Episodes four and five about the boys from the 101st landing in the Netherlands are as good as it gets. The Spielberg & Hanks production is also already nearly 20 years old, meaning that many young people still need to see it.
Why we love this: Hands down the best series about WWII around, and with a prominent place in it for the Netherlands.
Where to watch it: HBO (through Ziggo Go in the Netherlands) or Amazon
Soldier of Orange
There’s no other movie than Soldaat van Oranje that shaped the Dutch collective memory of WWII as much as this one. Directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring the late Rutger Hauer, it’s a movie about a group of students from Leiden joining the resistance and their journey through the war. It’s an iconic movie for the Dutch with scenes that make you understand the Netherlands (Scheveningen!), spawned a musical that went on forever (only ended now because of the pandemic), and is a riveting watch for everybody.
Why we love this: It’s a must-watch and a classic, and if you see it you know why.
Where to watch it: Amazon (or on the telly pretty much every year)
Language: Dutch and a bit of English
As said before, this list of movies about WWII in the Netherlands could have been different and longer, much longer actually. So here are some that definitely could have made the list as well:
- Oorlogswinter (2008)
- De Aanslag (1986)
- Zwartboek (2006)
- De Tweeling (2002)
- Bankier van het Verzet (2018)
What other WWII movies about the Netherlands would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments below!
Feature Image: Jeremy Yap/Unsplash
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2020, and was fully updated in May 2021 for your reading pleasure.