Wednesday, February 18, 2015

WW2 | The Dutch Record–NIOD, a Great Research Center

Loe de Jong (1914-2005), author of Holland's
official history of World War II.
NIOD is a research institute much like SIPRI in Stockholm. It's centrally located 5 minutes from the Dam. It's at the "Spui" stop on the 1, 2 or 5 tram.

SIPRI has a clearer name and mission - its initials stand for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, easy to parse and understand. It has a simple focus on ways to maintain peace, avoid causes of wars, and reduce the dangers of arms races. For years I have followed their numbers, especially when I was working on military-conversion issues after the end of the Cold War.

The Meaning of NIOD

The NIOD constituency is more complicated to figure out and explain:
  • NIOD was originally called the Rijks Instituut voor Oorlogs Documentatie (Royal Institute for War Documentation), or RIOD. 
  • Then maybe people thought Rijks sounded too much like the Nazi Reichs (Reichskommissar was the title Hitler gave to Arthur Seyss-Inquart), and they renamed it the Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogs Documentatie, NIOD. So far so good. Since 1999, NIOD has been part of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences).
  • NIOD has now merged with the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS). The acronym now stands for the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (Dutch: NIOD Instituut voor Oorlogs-, Holocaust- en Genocidestudies).
However difficult the etymology of NIOD, its great early achievement was to publish the fine official 14-volume Dutch history of the war by the late Loe de Jong - Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog ("The Kingdom of the Netherlands During World War II"), which topped out at 18,000 pages. The entire history is supposed to be available digitally.


NIOD also works like a boutique library of the quality of the British Library in London. Go there at  380 Herengracht and enjoy the many services it has available. The only Dutch you must learn is that  Trekken means "pull" and you will need to pull the door open to get into the registration area to get permission to use the the reading room. Then you must know the word Duwen, which means "push" after you go down the hall, to get into the reading room.

Here's what the NIOD reading room offers to anyone serious about doing research on World War II:
  • Sixty-five thousand books and three kilometers of archives - so far as I know, all on the premises.
  • A reading room with 25 reading areas, with wi-fi throughout.
  • Professional staff on hand.
  • Lots of people interested in the same thing you are.
  • Events, such as films and seminars.
  • The center of a web of institutions that are digitizing all their documents and sharing them online.
  • A building designed by A. Salm and inspired by the Chateau de Chenonceau, which spans the Loire.
The book shelves include thousands of books in English. However, you may not find much in English in the archives.The archival documents are mostly in Dutch and German.

If all else fails, you may be interested in the 100,000 photographs that NIOD has available. I found some of great interest to me. (I also found some at the Amsterdam Stadsarchief, the City Archives.)

No comments:

Post a Comment