Stunning colourised footage of Rotterdam before WWII (video inside!)

Discover a completely different Rotterdam from the one we know now. This newly colourised footage of Rotterdam before the war offers a unique glimpse into the city’s former image. 

On May 14, 1940, the German bombing of Rotterdam left irreparable damage. The bombing destroyed the entire city centre and Rotterdam was rebuilt into the city of modern architecture that we know today.

This video shows remarkable images of Rotterdam around 1930, before the World War II bombing that forever changed its character.

The bombing lasted for 15 minutes, devastating the old city as it’s seen in these images. Nearly 1,000 people died and 80,000 people became homeless.

READ MORE | 7 unmissable movies about the Netherlands in WWII

After the war, with hardly a trace of the old city, Rotterdam became one of the most architecturally unique and modern cities in the Netherlands.

What do you think of these images of Rotterdam before the war? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Detroit Publishing Co./US Library of Congress
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2020, and was fully updated in May 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Brin Andrews
Brin Andrews
Brin is an avid ice cream eater from the US, calling Amsterdam home since early 2019. As a lover of mountains, life below sea level has been a bit of an adjustment, but she manages to stay afloat with long runs, wine, and frequent travel. Incidentally, these are a few of her favourite topics to write about.

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What do you think?


  1. I used to live in Rotterdam and know of the bombardement. It’s a shame it happened because personally I like the old Rotterdam better 😔

  2. I so like the pace of the life at that time….not so frenetic as modern day life…and what do we gain nowadays with the frenetic pace? not much….I have an ancestor buried in the St Laurenskerk in Rotterdam…Jan van Brakel. I visit when I can, and am grateful for his energy and contribution to the Netherlands. He helped win the 1667 anglo-dutch war, and sailed in the Dutch Trading companies in the West Indies, promoting trade for the Netherlands.


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