Until recently Dutch historiography of the Second World War focused on subjects typical for this period: repression, resistance, the Hunger Winter of 1944–5 and, above all, the Holocaust. If anything was written about the economy, it was about exploitation resulting in impoverishment and hunger. New calculations of macroeconomic statistics for the period 1938–48 show that industrial production did not in fact decline until after the end of 1941, and that the first one and a half years of the occupation were the best in a decade. This article addresses the central question of how the Dutch economy, and especially industry, developed during the German occupation of 1940–5, especially during the first years. The development of employment suggests that economic decline and exploitation do not form the only story to be told about the economy in those years. Nevertheless, in Dutch popular publications, and in the international literature, the opinion still persists that during the occupation the economies of occupied western Europe slumped. Another problem is, therefore, how to explain the positive elements in economic development, and how it is possible that in memories and historiography it took more than fifty years before the traditional story of decline and exploitation as the sole elements of wartime economic development were even questioned.

doi.org/10.1017/S0960777308004669, hdl.handle.net/1765/95377
Contemporary European History

A previous version of this paper was presented at the EHA meeting in Toronto in September 2005.
The statistics are based on Hein A. M. Klemann, Nederland 1938–1948. Economie en samenleving in jaren van oorlog en bezetting (Amsterdam: Boom, 2002).

Erasmus University Rotterdam

Klemann, H. (2008). Did the German Occupation (1940–1945) Ruin Dutch Industry?. Contemporary European History, 17(4), 457–481. doi:10.1017/S0960777308004669