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Women of the CPN

© Ben van Meerendonk / AHF, collectie IISG

Time period: 1926-2009



Project realisation:




Time frame: 1926-2009


number of interviews: 44

(restricted public)


Thematische collectie: Erfgoed van de Oorlog



Not much was known about the experiences of female members of the Dutch Communist Party (CPN) during the German occupation. The documentary shows twelve mainly ordinary and not so prominent female party members, who were at least fourteen years old at the outbreak of the Second World War. The interviews focus on the women’s daily lives just before, during and after the occupation years.

The interviews show that the communist women knew early on about the threat posed by nazi Germany. As early as 1933, German refugees were often taken in by relatives or acquaintances of the interviewees. Many women later became involved in actions against General Franco during the Spanish Civil War.


When the Second World War broke out, many women were often already politically active. The women talk about their activities as couriers or distributors of the illegal communist magazine De Waarheid. In addition, the women discuss their role in the (armed) resistance and talk about their time in internment or hiding.


For almost all women, their experiences during the German occupation shaped their post-war (political) lives. They also elaborate on the period of the Cold War, when in the polarised political climate the CPN increasingly found itself isolated.


The interview project was conducted by Aletta, Institute for Women’s History (now: Atria) and completed in 2009