Censorship! Persmuseum IISG

1900-1945: Mass Media and Censorship I
De Gil, The Hague/Amsterdam 1 May 1944
De Gil, Den Haag/Amsterdam 1 mei 1944. Speciale extra-editie! (De Gil, The Hague/Amsterdam 1 May 1944. Special extra issue!)
De Gil appeared in 1944, with a total of 14 issues and a circulation of over 100,000.
With its satirical contributions aimed at, among other things, the NSB and the Landwacht (two Nazi-run national Dutch organizations) the biweekly journal created the impression of being an illegal or resistance publication. In fact, it was a National Socialist propaganda newspaper issued by the Abteilung Aktivpropaganda [Department of Active Propaganda] of the Rijkscommissariaat [Reich Commission]. Its informal structure and humorous tone made it particularly popular. In Amsterdam alone it sold some 10.000 copies at newsstands.
In the Speciaal Gekken-Nummer [Special Fools Issue] of 4 Augustus 1944 De Gil responded in a cunning manner to a polemic by Pieter 't Hoen (the pseudonym of Frans Goedhart) in the illegal Parool in which he took issue with the London weekly journal Vrij Nederland [Free Netherlands]. In an article Pieter 't Hoen had accused Vrij Nederland of only adopting articles from illegal publications: " ... which suit the Londoners, so that outspoken criticism expressed here in the Netherlands is concealed from Dutch people working in England." This was eagerly seized on by De Gil: the "preachers" of the illegal newspapers were being censored by the Dutch government in London.
One important staff member of this journal was Willem W. Waterman (pseudonym of Willem van den Hout (1915-1985). He was the first to coin the alliterative expression (in De Gil) of "Dollen Dinsdag" [Crazy Tuesday: Tuesday 5 September 1944, when the Dutch population mistakenly thought that liberation by the Allies was imminent]. After the war he was banned from the journalistic profession for ten years. Writing under the pseudonym of Willy van der Heide, he later published a successful series of children's books.
A group connected with the illegal newspaper Ons Volk [Our People] cooperated with the Amsterdam student resistance movement to create a one-off illegal issue on 1 May 1944, sold through newsstands as De Gil Speciale Extra Editie! The entire print run of 2500 copies sold out before the authorities realized that this was an illegal issue. In particular the headline 'Toch Duitse Overwinning! Voorlopig nog terugtocht!!!' [German victory after all! Retreat is just temporary!!!] was an effective parody of the style of De Gil. In April 1967 the Provo movement was to pull off a similar stunt with an issue of De Telegraaf.
Call number:
PM 10404