In 1986 the city council of Leeuwarden was given the legacy of Mr J. de Roos, under the condition that the City Archive, now the Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden (HCL), would yield the benefits of the collection. The profit of the inherited movable goods and estates was submitted to a funds under the title: ‘Legacy J. de Roos', meant for extra expenses to the benefit of the HCL. The funds were used to make an inventory of the belongings that Mr de Roos donated to the archive in 1984: a vast and interesting collection of war documentation. It is appropriate to give some more details about collector Jan de Roos and his life here.
Jan de Roos was born in Leeuwarden, on the 1st of March 1902, as the son of a shipwright -Johannes de Roos (1871-1937)- and his wife Tjitske Siegersma (1872-1932), daughter of a skipper from ‘Vrouwenparochie' in Friesland. Father de Roos sprung from a long line of shipwrights in Leeuwarden. Along with his brother-in-law Jan van der Meijden, father de Roos bought the shipyard ‘Krom en Recht' (Bent and Straight) in the neighbourhood Oldegalileën in 1901, where they started the shipbuilders- and maintenance dock called ‘De Hoop' (The Hope). De Hoop was situated at the Dokkumer Ee, north of the wood saw mill at the ‘Houtpolle' (Wood alley).
Up until 1911 the family De Roos lived next to the dock, after some time they moved to a new house in the part of Oldegalileën past the Houtpolle, that was officially called ‘Blokkepad' (Blockpath). In this industrious area on the outskirts of the city, where many other industries were situated, like a wood mill, a chicory factory and a tile works company, Jan de Roos spend his childhood. He was a fine student and after finishing the Christian primary school on the Margaretha de Heerstraat, he went to the ‘Stedelijk Gymnasium' (Grammar-school) on the ‘Noorderweg'. On the 24st of June 1920 he passed his general exams and in November he passed the exams for maths and sciences. This made it possible for him to enrol in a mathematical study.
Jan de Roos travelled by train to Groningen for his studies, he registered himself to the University of Groningen, at the Mathematics and Science Faculty. Before this he committed himself in 1919, as a volunteer, to the ‘compagnie Leeuwarden en omstreken' (squad for Leeuwarden and surroundings), from 1921 on he joined the ‘Kader Landstorm' (Box Landstorm) in Groningen. The voluntary Landstorm was an institute for military exercise. Here the volunteers received their general military training in the evenings and in the holidays and, after successfully taking an exam they had a right to a shorter term for their military service.
This was the reason for de Roos to join the voluntary service. In 1922 he was allotted for service in the militia and by mid July he was incorporated to the 9th Infantry Regiment. Not until July 1923, after being relieved of his duties in the Landstorm, did he enter active service and after only a month of service he took his leave large, as a sergeant. After this interlude De Roos resumed his studies and in 1927 he Graduated as a Doctor in Mathematics and Science. He majored in chemistry and also took the subsidiary subjects microbiology and toxicology.
It was his wish to be appointed as a teacher. When it proved to be difficult to establish such a career, de Roos decided to take up some more studies. In the academic year of 1928-1929 he registered at the University of Utrecht, in order to focus on Geographic Science. Being a student he was allowed to do geological exploration on the grounds of many landowners, for example in Neede, Deventer and on the mining areas of State mines ‘Hendrik'. As a result of his education many excursions were taken to geologically interesting areas, both in Holland and outside Holland, mostly in Germany. De Roos enjoyed these trips very much and would refer to them in his stories even decades after. He really took a liking for travelling and he evolved into a true globe-trotter. In this period of his life he first started his geological collection.
On the 19th of October 1934 Jan de Roos graduated in Fysical Geology. Still he did not succeed in finding a job in one of his fields. From the 2nd of April 1935 he worked at the city council of Franeker, in a range of departments. Amongst other duties he was occupied with bringing more structure to the archive. But again it was not possible to be appointed to the council of Franeker in a regular job, these were times of structural unemployment, so he kept applying to vacancies. Only after World War II he was appointed in a regular job. During the years before the war he worked several temporary jobs, after he worked in Franeker until 1939, he worked at the Provincial Library in Leeuwarden till 1940 and from 1941 until 1944 at the community council of Achtkarspelen, at Buitenpost. For many years he tutored students of secondary schools, in many subjects, on the side. During the German occupation he did not want to apply for jobs in public service, in order not to endanger the so called indispensability of younger men. These men, he feared, would be taken to ‘arbeits-einsatz' in Germany. He did not even consider to join the Educational Guild, a National Socialist organisation, which was the only way to be appointed as a teacher.
After the war he finally managed to get a job as a teacher in one of the subjects that he was skilled for: from October 1945 to till September of 1947 he taught as a teacher of Geography at the Grammar School in Gorinchem, a temporary job for a limited number of lessons. In September 1947 he was temporarily appointed to the Latin School in Goes. In January 1948 he combined two jobs, because he also started teaching at the Grammar School in Middelburg. His job in Goes ended before the summer holidays of 1950.
De Roos still lived in Leeuwarden all these years. He travelled to the cities that he worked in by public transport. He had a great passion for travelling by train. This was expressed in a collection of home and foreign railroad timetables, making designs for railroads (amongst others for a terminus at Leeuwarden) and keeping records of travellers.
His family moved from Blokkepad 58a to a new home at the Bleeklaan (nr 83), also in Leeuwarden. In October 1932 grandmother de Roos passed away. Johannes de Roos remarried in 1936 to Femmigje Stam, widow of Dirk van der Meijden, brother of his partner Jan van de Meijden. Soon after, in January 1937, de Roos senior died. Jan lived in with his stepmother and cared for her when she fell ill. After her death in December 1953 some other family moved in, because there was a period of housing shortages. In 1961 de Roos was the sole inhabitant of the house. His sister had already left their parental home after her marriage in 1936.
In April 1957 Jan was offered a job in the City Archive of Leeuwarden. After a short orientation he began a task, that was to become the most prominent of all his work so far: making a systematic index for the resolutions of the several councils of Leeuwarden over the years 1811-1851. De Roos became wedded to the Archive in such a way that he, after his retirement in 1967, continued his work without payment.
Apart from his professional duties de Roos had a broad interest for a wide range of subjects. Being raised in a Calvinist family, he was politically interested in the Anti Revolutionary Party, critical letters he wrote to the Party Office are silent witnesses of this. In the 60s he joined the ‘Frysk Nasionale Partij' (Frisian National Party), he had had nationalist Frisian Sympathies all of his life and he was well able to communicate in the Frisian language both verbally and in writing. In his opinion Friesland and especially Leeuwarden should exert themselves to maintain their stature. On this matter he wrote an extensive dissertation entitled ‘Toekomstig Leeuwarden' (Future Leeuwarden). This book is in the possession of the HCL. De Roos wrote and published more, for instance in the ‘Franeker Courant' and in the Frisian annex of the ‘Standaard' In these media he published book reviews, articles on local history and on politics. A recurring theme is the rivalry between Friesland and Groningen.
Before we mentioned his passion for travelling, this he could really enjoy after his retirement, when he took time to travel to all parts of the world, to visit geological and historical sights, of which he always would return loaded with documentation, maps and bric-á-brac. He frequently travelled (by train of course) in Europe, but over the last decades of his life he travelled the world, and made intercontinental journeys, for instance to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China and the United States of America.
And, to complete the biography, there was this ‘collecting mania'. Some of his collections we have already mentioned. During the War he saw the importance of collecting memorabilia of this period, like posters, bills etc. of which we here show the inventory. All of his life de Roos would remain a passionate collector. His stepmother was at first able to keep a lid on things, after she passed away, he dragged so many items into the house, that there was barely any space for himself to live in, despite the house on the Bleeklaan being rather spacious. In the last years of his life he hardly managed to store and categorize his collections.
After a period of several months of illness, Jan de Roos died on the 10th of January 1986 in the Bonifatius Hospital in Leeuwarden. For almost thirty years he was a striking and appreciated associate in the Municipality Archive. To this institution, with which he felt closely connected, he left his house and the enormous amount of collections that where inside. All fellow-workers of the Archive did their utmost to find a suitable destination for all collections, trying to keep the points of view of the donor in mind.
In this way the Fries Natuurmuseum (Frisian Museum of Nature) in Leeuwarden received the extended collection of geological artefacts, the Faculty of Planning Sciences of the University of Utrecht a large amount of maps and plans. Books, items and documentation on a wide range of subjects could be given to the State Archives in Friesland, the Fries Museum (Frisian Museum), the Verzetsmuseum (Resitance Museum), the Provincial Library of Friesland, the Het Fries Scheepvaartmuseum (Frisian Nautic Museum) and the Frysk Letterkundich Museum en Dokumintaasjesintrum (Frisian Literary Museum and Documentary Institute). The City Archive kept the previously donated De Rooscollection and part of a collection of documentation on Leeuwarden, as well as some documents that would complement the library and the image collection of the archive.
The ‘De Roos' collection
On the history of this collection
Historic insight made De Roos collect war propaganda and war documentation. In the days when most people had other priorities, he took it on himself to gather as much paperwork of this period that he was able to lay hands on, as evidence of what happened to show to future generations. A hard job, that he remained doing after the liberation of Europe. The most intriguing part of the collection are the categorized posters that are on display here.
In various ways did De Roos come by the items. Because of his job at the town council of Achtkarspelen, he was able to obtain complete editions of Dutch and German proclamations and resolutions. During the whole period of the war it was possible to take items from the propaganda that was sent by the occupier to the local governments. Judged by the collection he could also benefit from the publications that befriended colleagues in Sneek and Franker received. Another way to gather material was by simply addressing the keepers of distributing points for national-socialist propaganda personally, both in Leeuwarden and in other parts of the country. De Roos saw these as strictly business contacts, with a scientific aim and the addressed nazi-officials, being surprised sometimes, handed him the posters and publications he asked for.
Besides the many, very much intact posters, the collection also includes a lot of badly damaged copies that are restored by De Roos himself. It is evident that this is mostly material that was torn from walls. The story goes that De Roos followed the man whose job it was to paste posters and de Roos tore from the wall the posters that had just been pasted on it. Being taken to the police station he saw a poster there that wasn't in his possession yet, so he confiscated this item too. De Roos denied these stories: he had in those days taken some old posters of the wall and had been arrested once, but that was all.
Over the years parts of the collection have been lent to outside organisations and people, but unfortunately the material has suffered greatly from this, also some of the material was lost, which rather much damaged the De Roos collection.
In 1984, as mentioned above, the entire collection was given (under conditions), to the City Archive, nowadays the Historic Centre Leeuwarden. To the day he fell ill, De Roos himself worked on restoring and categorising the items in the collection.
Marks based on the collection
A poster or bill was or should be pasted to billboards, carrying a public message or advertisement in order to make it publicly known. One can make a division in point posters, where the text is the most important or image posters, where the picture is most important.
The occupier wanted to achieve a number of goals in the Netherlands: the levelling of the social life in Holland, to national socialist ways; joining up the population, the agriculture and trade and industry to the total warfare; making the country ‘jew-free' and maintaining law and order. All these aims can be found in the bills which appeared on billboards, walls and pillars during the war. A great number of these point posters can be classified as propaganda. When the present poster collection, of which a prominent part contains rather abject material, was made public, it seemed right to define the background of nazi-propaganda, be it in short.
Propaganda can be defined as the deliberate influencing of the public opinion by means of word, writing, image, and music, mostly by using symbols like flags or gestures. During World War II this form of conscious political manipulation (on both sides) was greatly perfected. German propaganda showed a positive image of the social and cultural life according to national socialist ideas. Everything that didn't live up to Nazi standards, was left out or twisted. Nationalist organisations like the Nederlandse Volksdienst (Dutch Public Services), Winterhulp (Winteraid), Vreugde en Arbeid (Joy and Labour) and the Nederlandsch-Duitse Kultuurgemeenschap (Dutch-German Culture Society) were brought to attention in a very positive way. People were encouraged to join several voluntary services, which was of course done in a cheerful tone of voice. On the other hand negative propaganda was made against all Jews, Bolsheviks, English and Americans. In order to create a negative feel about these ‘enemies', generally they used the well-known cliché features and prejudices. These images were also found in the Dutch streets.
By resolution of the State Commissioner dated 25th of November 1940 the Departement van Volksvoorlichting en Kunsten or DVK (Department of Public Information and Arts) was erected. This institution was assigned to perform ‘all duties that are connected to propaganda and Announcements, for non-profit aims'. A special department was installed for propaganda. The DVK paid special thought to propaganda in the Written Media, Film and Broadcasting Companies, They also spread (often translated from German and adjusted to Dutch circumstances) printing and posters. The propaganda policy was strongly influenced by the board of the State Commissioner. Since the winter of 1941 permission was needed for all public announcements and posters with a political and propaganda intent. At first this permission could only be admitted by the State Commissioner, but after the summer of 1942 also by the DVK. There is reasonable doubt whether such propaganda, being unfamiliar to the Dutch, was successful here. The influence of propagandistic material can only be seen in connection to other forms of mass influence. One gets the impression that negative propaganda, seen in the light of daily circumstances that grew grimmer, would be regarded as dishonest, whereas the propaganda against the allied forced received a positive acclaim. There have been ‘antidotes' against propaganda in the illegal media, but rarely by pasting posters. In the De Rooscollection there is only one poster that was pasted illegally: a small bill from Leeuwarden (February 1945) in which delay for a horse requisition was announced and which was immediately followed by an official announcement. (cat. nos. 300 and 301).
One group that cannot be counted in with propaganda, are the plackard notes in which resolutions or warnings of the government were published. Visually less interesting, but nonetheless they clearly reflect the influence of the occupying forces on the life of ordinary civilians. The increase in violence and terror toward the Dutch people can be seen clearly here. On the other hand there is hardly any material in the collection of German propaganda that shows the great drama of the extermination of Jews. Still the revolting anti-Semitism that is on display in many posters makes the purposes of the German occupier quite clear.
The collection of posters and bills that date from years before the war (in proportion not so many) anticipate on the events of 1940-1945. Like those the posters that originate from the time after the liberation have something to do with the aftermath of this period of war. There is a great collection of announcements by the Military Authorities, the military emergency administration that was in operation until 1946. A great number of items also concern the reconstruction of society in all its aspects. Besides this the battle to regain the Dutch East Indies plays an important part. The collection ended in 1948.