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KNMG – Physician during the years of occupation

Time period: 1940-1945



Realisati0n project:

KNMG (Koninklijke Nederlandsche Maatschappij tot bevordering der Geneeskunst), Medisch Contact


Timeframe: 1940-1945
Location: Nederland
Number of interviews: 11


Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog



Interviews can be seen via:


During the German occupation, Dutch doctors were confronted with numerous ethical dilemmas. Should they continue to do their work or should they turn to sabotage by making false diagnoses and thus save the patient from being transported? Would they join the doctors’ resistance group the Medisch Contact or the pro-German Doctors’ Chamber? In this interview project, medics who were doctors or medical students during the occupation years talk about these and other dilemmas. They discuss their motives for resisting or not resisting and also pay attention to the influence their colleagues had on the way they maintained medical-ethical standards.


The interviews reveal how divided medical students were about the declaration of loyalty. For many it was self-evident not to sign it. But sometimes the pressure to sign was (too) great, for example because they were threatened with consequences for their parents. Prisoners of war in camp Vught were put to the test: declare loyalty to the Germans or report for the Arbeitseinsatz in Germany. They all signed the declaration of loyalty in the conviction that working for the Germans was even worse.


The interviews also shed light on the resistance by the doctors. With false diagnoses, diseases and disorders, the doctors managed to save many a ‘patient’ from being put to work and other horrors. Doctors were also allowed to go out on the streets during ‘curfew hours’ and could thus also help the resistance ‘under the guise of a visit or an emergency’.