The first few years following the liberation of the country in 1944/1945 are characterised by a rebuilding and general feeling among the Dutch of the re-emergence of the Netherlands.
The defeat of Nazi Germany, the succession to the throne by Queen Juliana in 1948, and the Dutch recognition of Indonesian independence in 1949 marked for many Dutch people the start of a new beginning.
The postwar period was also the time that Nazi Germans and their Dutch sympathisers were arrested, charged and sentenced by Dutch courts. Some of the germans and their Dutch collaborators were executed; many were imprisoned. Immediately after the war ended, some 100,000 Dutch people were interned.
One of these internment camps was in Stadskanaal, in the north of the country. The TRC houses a most intriguing memento of the Stadskanaal prisoners, namely a handkerchief embroidered with the names of many of the women held there (TRC 2015.0193).
The Feestrok is a patchwork skirt that was made by many Dutch women after the war to celebrate the liberation of the country. The idea was born in 1943, when Mies Boissevain-Van Lennep (1896-1965), who had joined the resistance against the Germans during the war, was imprisoned by the occupying forces. While in prison she was sent a scarf tie that was made from scraps of cloth from the clothes of family and friends.
After the liberation, she became a member of a women's committee that wanted to create a garment that reflected the diversity, unity and reconstruction of the Netherlands after the war. The Feestrok symbolised 'unity from diversity'; 'new out of old'; 'building up from ruins'. Anyone who made a Feestrok skirt could have it officially registered. In the end, 4,000 of these skirts were registered, but many more were made and worn. The TRC Collection houses a number of these garments, and one of them is illustrated here (TRC 2011.0001a).
National breakfast tablecloth
In 1945/46, the Ferwerda company sold a tablecloth commemorating the liberation of the Netherlands (compare TRC 2014.0814). In the centre is the Dutch lion rampant with a sword piercing a swastika. This tablecloth was designed during the war, the first 144 copies were woven clandestinely from artificial silk that was actually intended for towels to be sent to Germany.
After the liberation, parachute fabric was used to make clothing. Initially, parachutes were made from long pieces of silk. During the war, nylon, a synthetic material that had been introduced by Dupont in 1935, was further developed and used for parachutes.
Most of the parachute fabric used to make clothing was acquired soon after the liberation. Some came from parachutes that were used before, during the occupation, and had been kept for years. Given the shortage of textiles, the fabric was more than welcome and the clothing made from it added extra lustre to the liberation and the years that followed. Many wedding and christening dresses were made from parachute fabric.
One of these christening gowns, now in he TRC collection (TRC 2017.33657.3365) was made in 1947 from material acquired during the war, and was subsequently used for the christening of seventeen children between 1947 and 2013. For a TRC blog on the subject, see Christening gown with a rich history (1 November 2017).
In February 1947, Christian Dior released a new collection, characterised by long, full skirts with petticoats, a wasp waist and shoulders without padding. After the long period of thrift and austerity, this feminine and luxurious style matched the post-war mood.
The editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar called Dior's dresses "such a new look," which is how this style received its name. Not everyone was happy with the New Look. In the USA, women demonstrated against this style, which for them symbolised the surrender of their freedoms: no longer working in the factory, but back to the kitchen and into a corset. That did not stop the success: the New Look became the post-war clothing style.
For the Kerchief from Stadskanaal, see the TRC blogs:
- The Stadskanaal embroidered kerchief, part 4, 5 September 2015
- The Stadskanaal embroidered kerchief, part 3, 14 April 2015
- Stadskanaal kerchief, continued, 12 April 2015
- Commemorative kerchief from Stadskanaal, May 1945, 4 April 2015
For the Feestrok, see the TRC blogs:
- An unexpected donation of a Feestrok, 17 September 2020
- The Feestrok revisited, by an American student, 9 January 2019
- The Feestrok, again, 18 November 2018
- The Dutch 'Feestrok', celebrating liberation from Nazi Germany, August 2018
- Festival skirt: A colourful reaction to the horrors of the Second World War, January 2011
For the 'New Look", see the TRC blog
- The post-war 'New Look', 12 October 2020.