During World War II the Dutch broadcasted a radio programme from London (UK) called Radio Oranje for all those living in the occupied Netherlands. The programme was broadcasted everyday at 9 o’clock in the evening and was created to provide important information and to boost the spirits of the fellow citizens overseas. From the October 3rd 1944 onwards, when some parts of the Netherlands were already freed by the Allies, the programme was broadcasted from Eindhoven (the Netherlands) under the name Radio Herrijzend Nederland.

The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision made over 25 hours of Radio Oranje (183 broadcasts) available on Europeana and SoundCloud and an additional 13 hours of Radio Herrijzend Nederland (79 broadcasts) will be uploaded to Europeana in the coming months. These 79 broadcasts are already publicly available on SoundCloud here.

Radio Oranje was rather formal in tone since the British and the Dutch governments checked the scripts for sensitive information up front. However, sometimes code messages were broadcasted; the so called bijzondere berichten (special messages). Listen to an example of such a coded message underneath.

In this item two special messages are given: ‘A message from Bob to Jan: everything is fine, I’ll come as soon as possible’ and the second, more cryptic message: ‘What is the hunter catching?’.

Although the name of the programme changed to Radio Herrijzend Nederland as soon as the broadcasts were transmitted from the Netherlands, the format of the show stayed the same. Messages were broadcasted to be received by those who were still under occupation. Inspiring words from Queen Wilhelmina were transmitted in an attempt to give the people strength. She appeared more than 30 times. For instance in this broadcast that was transmitted during what finally became the last Christmas under occupation:


More practical messages were broadcasted as well. For example, to let the people know that packages with food were being dropped from planes, as you can hear in this broadcast from the 24th of April 1945.‘Expect the food packages during the night and during the day [..] we are giving the enemy instructions to help you as good as they can, don’t turn down their help [..] if you spot our planes, then take shelter nearby [..] the packages will be heavy enough to cause serious injury or even kill you in case they hit you [..] share the food equally, if the enemy tries to steal your food, or if they try to shoot our planes, then make notes of their names and specifics [..] because they will be seen as warcriminals and will be treates as such. [..] don’t forget that we are your friends and we will do everything within our capabilities to help you.’

The last broadcast from Radio Oranje, transmitted on the 2th of June 1945, is targeted to the British and the other Allies that freed the Dutch from occupation.
‘I am here tonight to say goodbye to you all and I am here to offer you the thanks of the Netherlands government. For all you have done, for all that you have meant to the Dutch since the 10th of May 1940. My colleagues and myself are returning to our homes, to our country, saved at the very last, after suffering such as you and I can hardly imagine.’

by Harry van Biessum, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision