This concerns the project War before the Judge of the Central Archives of Special Administration of Justice (CABR). This is the largest and most consulted war archive in the Netherlands.
No more permission needed
“It is now limited public,” Edwin Klijn of the archive explains to the ANP news agency. “Anyone who wants to search for someone must be able to prove that this person has died, or have permission from the person concerned. On January 1, 2025, those restrictions will be lifted under the new Archives Act.”
This means that an investigator has access to all documents. And if someone later searches the website for names of, for example, betrayed or deceased relatives, the name of a possible traitor will automatically appear. “That can have major consequences for the family of a collaborator, but also for historiography about the war,” says Klijn.
Diaries and photos
Immediately after the war, police and judicial investigations started into people suspected of collaborating with the German occupiers. Of the 300,000 suspects, 20 percent remained and that group was eventually convicted by a special court or tribunal.
Nearly 1,900 people were sentenced to more than ten years in prison. Of all those 300,000 investigations, things such as witness and court reports, diaries, requests for clemency and also photos have been preserved.
‘Never done before’
War for the Judge is already talking to interest groups such as children of NSB members. “After January 1, 2025, we are of course also bound by privacy legislation,” says Klijn. “Something like this has never been done before, so we need to find out where the balance is.”
According to Klijn, if we regard the war as a moral benchmark, we should know everything about it and also know the perpetrator stories. “Only then can we understand what happened and why. But there are still collaborators alive and certainly their children. It is important that we have a public debate about how we deal with these kinds of loaded archives now and in the future.”
The ministries of Education, Culture and Science, of Health, Welfare and Sport and of Justice and Security are responsible for the project. They are responsible for the millions of euros that digitization will cost.