Nearly a care-free holiday on Ameland during the war

Ameland was safer than other parts of the Netherlands. Initially, holidaymakers could still visit the island. In the meantime, planes constantly flew overhead and washed up sea mines were defused.

The change of power on Ameland in May 1940 was fairly amiable. The Dutch servicemen were simply sent away by the Germans, and the first tourists quickly arrived on the island. On 31 May, the arrival of holidaymakers was only complicated by a British air raid that destroyed the ferry. After the end of August, the German occupiers limited tourism. You could only visit or leave Ameland with an Ausweis, a type of work permit.

The Germans built bunkers on Ameland to defend the coast and the air space. These bunkers were part of the Atlantikwall - the defensive line of most important strategic places along the European west coast. The defensive positions on Ameland played a less important part than the important radar posts on Terschelling and Schiermonnikoog.

Even so, the island was confronted with air and sea battles. There were few crashes on Ameland itself, but there were many victims around the island. Many bodies of victims of the Battle of Dunkirk washed up on the beach.

The people of Ameland were only able to leave their island with an Ausweis. German servicemen and islanders were simply stuck with each other. The atmosphere was relatively relaxed nevertheless. Both parties wanted to keep the situation as comfortable as possible. Even so, there was a resistance movement and they largely dealt with housing people in hiding. They also gathered information that was passed on to the resistance on the mainland.

People of Ameland saw the Dutch flag flying on the tower of Holwerd when their island was still occupied. People started to celebrate and the German servicemen could only look on. Eye witnesses say that Germans and celebrating Amelanders
mingled. In the end, the Germans only wanted to go home as quickly as possible.

Experience this unusual history in the Bunker museum of Ameland. The museum is housed in a former kitchen bunker. It tells personal stories of people of Ameland in an impressive pictorial narrative. It also shows finds and there is a memorial space for victims of the war. Go down the stairs to this underground bunker and enter a different, impressive world.

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