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A church split in wartime

Time period: 1940-1945



Realisation project:


Historisch Documentatiecentrum voor het Nederlands Protestantisme (©)


Time frame: 1940-1945
Location: Amersfoort
Number of interviews: 10


Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog



Interviews can be viewed at:


During the Second World War, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKN) experienced a church war that resulted in the so-called Liberation of 1944. With the Liberation, 90,000 Reformed people (approximately twelve per cent) left the GKN and founded a new denomination, later called the Reformed Churches (Vrijgemaakt).


Little is known about how young members of the church experienced the wartime split.
In this oral history project, a number of them will have their say. The central question is how they experienced the wartime church split.


The wartime schism was a major event. National Socialism was considered an anti-Christian ideology by most Reformed people. The members of the GKN therefore played a relatively large role in the resistance against the occupying forces, although there were also well-known Reformed people who joined the NSB and SS. The divisions could be twofold: either for or against Nazism, or both for or against the separation of the church. In any case, the close ties of friendship and family within the community were under great pressure. From the very beginning, those who separated were criticised for their broken unity. The Vrijgemaakten, however, emphasised that they were fighting the same battle for freedom of conscience in church and society.

Bridge over the river IJssel near Kampen in 1941 - HOLLANDISH HIGHWAY / ALPHONS HUSTINX