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The current refugee crisis is keeping the Netherlands very busy. It seems as if we are dealing with a completely new phenomenon, but is that right?
Literature and archives show that from the sixteenth century onward, about one hundred refugee groups settled in the Netherlands. From the Southern Dutch who came from
Belgium to the Syrians four centuries later.


Leaving Behind and Starting Over offers a special view on the history of refugees in the Netherlands, by bringing together personal life stories from the sixteenth century until 1951 and life stories of refugees from recent decades. We read about freethinkers, merchants and poets, but also about marauders, who each in their own way contributed to society then and now.


This well-written and abundantly illustrated book shows us a side of the refugee issue that is rarely discussed: how people who have had to leave everything behind build a new existence and what opportunities and obstacles they encounter. 


Elias van der Plicht based the book on research of material available in various national and local archives, as well as in the literature on refugees. He conducted the research between March 2014 and early 2016. In addition to personal life stories from a distant past, he used a selection of 20 oral history interviews from the Ongekend Bijzonder project.