On 25 and 26 February 1941, thousands of workers in Amsterdam and the surrounding region spontaneously downed tools and went on strike in response to the victimisation of Jews, which had become increasingly vigorous. Open protests like the February Strike were rare under the German occupation. Those who had the courage to resist did so in secret. They ran enormous risks.

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Weapons

Resistance fighter Tonny van Renterghem’s pistol. Smith & Wesson, c. 1920-1940

Resistance against the Nazis came in different forms. Some helped the growing number of people who went into hiding, both Jews and young men avoiding forced labour in Germany. Clandestine news-sheets were printed providing news about the war and raising morale. Others who joined the resistance spied for the Allies or took up arms. The harsher the German repression became, the more people joined these resistance groups. Armed resistance meant raids on municipal offices and distribution centres. This was a way of acquiring ID cards and ration tokens for people in hiding. To help the Allies, resistance fighters destroyed strategic targets such as railways and bridges. They also assassinated leading German officers and Dutch collaborators.

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Cor van Teeseling

: Self portrait of Cor van Teeseling. Amsterdam, September 1942

The young artist Cor van Teeseling was arrested by the Germans in August 1941 for his involvement with a clandestine news-sheet . He was sentenced to death and spent over a year on death row in cell B-I-I at Weteringschans prison in Amsterdam. On 19 November 1942, the 27-year-old was executed by firing squad at Soesterberg. In the sombre expectation of his sentence and despite the torture he was subjected to in prison, he drew 158 self portraits. A couple of months before his execution he stopped, although he continued to sketch his guards who supplied him occasionally with paper and other items. Teeseling hoped that his wife would be able to sell the drawings and raise money to survive the war. However, she kept the series, thereby preserving an exceptional personal document.