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The gay subculture in the big city, just before, during and just after World War II

Collectie Jan Carel Warffemius
Time period: 1927-1949
Number of interviews: 10
Accessibility: restricted public

Collectie Jan Carel Warffemius; (2009): Thematische collectie: Erfgoed van de Oorlog, Getuigen Verhalen, Project ‘De homo-subcultuur in de grote stad, vlak voor, tijdens en vlak na WO2’.



On 6 November 1943, around midnight, the vice squad in The Hague raided Obrechtstraat 207. The reason: a tip-off that homosexuals and lesbians were holding a masked ball there. That turned out to be the case: 29 men and 19 women were arrested. The disrupted ball masque and other aspects of the gay subculture during the Second World War are mainly known from police reports.


This oral history project provides more insight into the lives of homosexuals during the occupation. Legally, the repression increased: the new ordinance 81/40 prohibited all homosexual acts under penalty of up to four years in prison. Nevertheless, there was a lively gay subculture in several cities. For example, the number of gay bars in Amsterdam increased. There were also homosexual contacts and relationships between Dutch men and German soldiers.


The ten interviews (with nine men and one woman) offer a nuanced and personal view on the gay subculture, especially in the big cities.