History School Trips to the Netherlands
A country offering the most well-known accounts of Jewish life under the Nazis.
The Netherlands can offer you everything from a historic journey through the themes of a developing Europe and into the Second World War and the Holocaust, to a voyage through the modern world of culture, art and international relations.
Visit the city of Amsterdam and stroll by the canals to learn about the Netherlands as a country of trade, empire and influence, or retrace the steps of the Nazis as they invaded and occupied this beautiful city. We also recommend travelling east towards Arnhem, site of the 1944 Allied attempt to drive the Nazis back further towards Germany. The mission known as Operation Market Garden, immortalised in the film A Bridge Too Far, is one of daring bravery and foiled success.
Bring history to life
A helping hand from a History Tour Guide.
Expert knowledge, an understanding of your students’ educational and social needs and in-the-field assistance are just three of the benefits of opting for a History Tour Guide. We have carefully selected a handful of guides who specialise in various areas of history including WWI, WWII and the Holocaust.
Did you know?
4th May is National Memorial Day commemorating all civilians and soldiers who have lost their lives in war or peacekeeping situations since the outbreak of WWII. At 8pm the Dutch Royal Family lays a wreath as part of the commemorative service in Dam Square in Amsterdam and the entire country observes a two minute silence. On 5th May the Dutch celebrate Liberation Day. This day marks the capitulation of the Nazis and marks the end of WWII for the Dutch.
Our quick, online quote form allows our specialists to provide you with a bespoke quotation for a trip tailor-made to your group’s individual requirements.
The Netherlands Fact File
KS3 and KS4 (or equivalent)
Flight or coach
Schipol Airport, Amsterdam
- The religious wars of Europe and the Reformation
- European trade and development
- The Second World War
- The Holocaust
- War and conflict
- International relations and the cultural development of Europe
- The Cold War
The Netherlands History Study Visits
The Netherlands is the perfect destination for younger students looking for an introduction into the Holocaust thanks to its array of excursions. Here are just some of our most highly recommended visits.
Anne Frank House
Anne Frank’s story is brought to life as students see original artefacts recovered from the building, read original pages from her diary and step behind the bookcase, climbing the narrow staircase to the original annex where the Frank Family and 4 other Jewish people hid between 1942 and 1944. Students embark on a self guided tour through the museum; however excerpts from Anne’s diary are displayed throughout to help them build a picture of what life was like for the eight Jewish people living in this building as well as many other Jewish people forced in to hiding during this time.
For groups who want a more in-depth visit to the Anne Frank House we would highly recommend a two-hour workshop. The session will be led by a member of staff from the museum and will encourage students to delve deeper into the world of Anne Frank and her family, life during the Second World War for the Dutch community and the persecution of the Jewish people. The workshop culminates with a guided tour of the house, including the well-known ‘hiding place’.
Millions of people visit the Anne Frank House every year, and it is a must for any students studying the Holocaust and embarking on a History Trip to Amsterdam, but did you know that 50 years ago the original Anne Frank House came close to demolition? It is only thanks to Otto Frank, his friends and the local Dutch community that the original Anne Frank House still stands today as they fought to protect a vital part of the city’s history.
Corrie ten Boom – the hiding place
The Corrie ten Boom family were a Dutch Christian family living in Harleem during the Second World War. When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, the ten Boom family began to take refugees into their home. A secret room measuring around 76cm deep was built in case of a raid.
On 28th February 1944 at approx. 12.30hrs, the house was raided. At this time, 6 people had squeezed into the secret room to hide from Nazi soldiers. The entire family was arrested and transported to Scheveningen prison. Their father died just 10 days later. Corrie was released from the camp on December 31st, 1944. She later learned that her release was a clerical error and said “God does not have problems, only plans”. She was released one week before all female prisoners were executed in the camp.
Today, your students can visit the Corrie ten Boom house which has now been transformed into a museum. Many photographs are on display in the museum, giving visitors an insight into the daily lives of the ten Boom family. Visitors can also see Corrie’s bedroom and the famous secret room hiding place, appreciating just how small this space was and understanding the real danger that the ten Boom family put themselves in to protect the lives of others.
The ten Boom family’s faith, hope and courage in the face of adversity makes for a truly inspirational account for your students. Corrie ten Boom has since written many books about her ordeal, the most famous of which is entitled “The Hiding Place”. A film was also released in 1975 with the same name.
Corrie ten Boom went on to visit 60 different countries following her release, preaching and converting many people to Christianity. She died on her 91st birthday on April 15th, 1983.
Memory Centre Camp Westerbork
The memorial centre and exhibition is located just 2 miles from the original site of Camp Westerbork, a transit camp used during WWII to hold Jewish prisoners from Holland before deporting them to various death camps. During WWII, archives report that over 101,000 Dutch Jews were detained here and 5,000 German Jews.
A visit to the camp memory centre will explore the lives of the prisoners through photographs, objects and drawings. Visitors can take the museum bus to the original camp site. One of the poignant memorials which visitors will see at the memory centre is the 102,000 stones. Each stone represents a member of the camp who was transported to the East and did not return. These stones are laid not just to show the vast amount of people killed, but also to recognize each person as an individual; as a mother, daughter or father, part of a family. The museum also focuses on people who helped the Jews, the train drivers who transported the prisoners to the death camps, as well as people who lived in the local area. One of the current exhibitions is “For Safekeeping”. It displays valuable objects which Jewish people left with friends, neighbors and colleagues, to keep until they returned from the camps. Many never did return, and the exhibition displays the items which are still waiting for their owners to claim.
The camp had many characteristics of a small town, with dental surgeries, hairdressers and its own currency. However, it was far from an idyllic existence, with the fear of transportation looming over the prisoners’ heads as a constant threat. One commentator said that the camp was “about as inhospitable as could be, far from the civilized world in the isolation of the Drenthe moorland, difficult to reach, with unpaved roads where even the slightest shower would turn the sand to mud.”
Jewish Historical Museum
Located in Amsterdam, the Jewish Historical Museum and resource centre focusing on the religion, history and culture of Jews in the Netherlands and its former colonies. Your group can have a guided tour of the museum focusing on Religion and History. Students will learn about Jewish religion and the Torah in the Great Synagogue. Exhibtions focus on Jewish History from 1600-1900 and detail where Jewish people came from and why they settled in the Netherlands. The tour will then take students to the New Synagogue Galleries, and a multimedia presentation will talk about 20th century Jewish History and how this relates to present themes in Jewish culture.
A trip here encourages students to look at the culture, history and Jewish religion to learn how to place the past into context and also understand what this might mean for the future.
Interestingly, the museum is currently conducting research into the lost items of its collection. In 1943, the Nazis confiscated the musuem’s collection. This was returned in 1946 and the museum re-opened the collection in 1955. However, some items are still lost with others being attributed to the museum, when in fact they were on loan to the museum at the time of the confiscation. The museum is therefore trying to track down the missing pieces, as well as find the rightful owners of the loaned items.
Walking Tour of the former Jewish district
A guided tour of the Jewish District of Amsterdam is a great way to see many of the sites of the city whilst learning more about the community within the Netherlands before, during and after the Second World War.
Led by an expert from the Jewish Historical Museum, students will visit the Auschwitz Memorial, created in 1993 by Dutch artist and writer, Jans Wolkers. The exhibition consists of a series of broken mirrors in which the day and night sky is reflected. On a panel beside the exhibition, the stark facts can be read; of the 95,500 Jews deported to Auschwitz and Sobibor, only 500 returned. An interesting fact for your students is that originally this memorial was in one of Amsterdam’s cemeteries and only later moved to it’s new location of the Wertheim Park.
The group will walk along the Kloveniersburgwal, the canal which separated the Jewish Quarter during WWII, and visit the Portuguese Synagogue, which was built in 1675 and is still in use today. They will go on to visit the Hollandsche Schouwburg, or Dutch Theatre. The theatre was used for several popular performances before the War, and then exclusively for Jewish performers and audiences at the start of WWII. In 1942, Jews were rounded up in the theatre and then deported to various concentration camps. Eyewitness accounts describe the conditions in the theatre, stating that there were over 1300 people there with only 5 toilets. It seemed that people were selected for Westerbork or Camp Vught on a whim, with those in the main auditorium going to one camp and those upstairs going to another. Since 1962, the theatre has become a memorial for the 104,000 Dutch Jews killed during WWII.
A great way to see many of the sites in the Jewish district with the aid of a local, knowledgeable guide!
Arnhem – Operation Market Garden
Operation Market Garden was one of the boldest plans in WWII, with 30,000 airborne troops attempting to fly over enemy lines to capture 8 bridges which spanned the network of canals which went over the Dutch/German border. Ground forces were then to arrive in tanks and relieve the air troops and cross the intact bridges behind the enemy lines. However, German occupation of the area was strong and the operation was unsuccessful. Most of the bridges were blown up and the troops who did make it were left stranded, without food or ammunition. The operation was costly, with the Parachute division leaving behind 1500 dead and 6500 prisoners.
Today, students can visit to the areas used as allied landing zones in Operation Market Garden as well as the Arnhem Bridge. A visit to the Commonwealth cemetery in Oosterbeek, where the graves of 1680 Commonwealth servicemen can be found, most of whom perished during the landings or during the fighting afterwards, is a stark reminder of how many lives were lost during this mission. The Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek is housed in a villa used as headquarters for the Allied forces during the battle of Arnhem. It displays weaponry, photographs and testimonials of war veterans and civilians.
The museum has its own educational area with visual and audio resources for your group. Students can learn what it was like to be a child during the conflict by learning about the toys, sweets and dangers of the time.
Did you know that it is reported that if Operation Market Garden had succeeded, Western troops may have arrived in Berlin weeks before the Russians, ending the War by Christmas 1944. This could have totally transformed the shape of Modern Europe?
A visit to Camp Vught allows students to explore the museum that now stands on part of the former concentration camp site of Camp Vught. A prisoner’s barrack, 3 watch towers, fencing and cell 115 have all been reconstructed providing a thought-provoking visit to what was the only SS concentration camp in occupied North West Europe.
The camp itself was constructed in the woods from May 1942, with the first prisoners arriving before its completion at the end of 1942. The camp was a transit camp, with many thousands of Jews arriving and then being transported to Westerbork, then onto death camps in the East. The conditions were terrible; with many dying of malnutrition, polluted water and infectious diseases which were rife in the overcrowded camp. By D-Day in 1944, the Germans wanted to clear the camp quickly, with most of the women being sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp and most men being sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The camp has been used on and off since the war and some of the buildings are still used today as army barracks.
One tragedy of the camp concerns cell 115. One female prisoner stood up for another. As punishment for this act of rebellion, 74 female prisoners were forced into a cell only 9mx9m for over 14 hours. 10 of the women died, with many of them becoming permanently physically and mentally damaged. This is the cell that has been reconstructed,
A guided tour of the site can be booked in English; otherwise, small guide booklets in English can be purchased. In addition, teaching materials are available as well as an introductory film with English subtitles.
Art and history take on a new meaning at the Rijksmuseum, which offers insightful exhibitions, lively events and Dutch art and history from the Middle Ages onwards, as well as European and Asian art.
Get to know the collection better with a guided tour and give your group the chance to examine objects from new and surprising viewpoints. Guided tours include Highlights of the Golden Age, Drawing Tour and Highlights of the Rijksmuseum, amongst many more.
Alternatively, embark on a multimedia tour which provides inspiring information on the Rijksmuseum and its collection. You can rent this tour at the museum or get it for free if you have a smartphone, using the Rijksmuseum app. The tours offer different routes along the museum’s highlights, including the thoroughly renovated building and various departments, and can last either 45, 60 or 90 minutes.
The Netherlands Sample Itineraries
Your bespoke itinerary will include the appropriate balance of educational visits and leisure excursions to fill your chosen duration and meet your aims and objectives. Your dedicated Tour Coordinator will offer advice and recommendations with the sole aim of creating the perfect itinerary for your group, but just to get you inspired, we have outlined the itineraries created for two of our clients below.
Dates: 16th – 20th April
Flights: Helsinki Airport into Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Passengers: 14 students and 3 teachers
Accommodation: The Hotel Aan Zee
Board Basis: Bed and Breakfast
Overview of visits: Anne Frank’s House, Ajax Arena, Madurodam, Watersnood Museum, Jewish Historical Museum, Van Gogh Museum and Keukenhof Park.
The group arrived on their mid-afternoon flight from Helsinki into Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The school opted to travel straight to their accommodation, where after un-loading and dining, spent the remainder of their evening at leisure.View the full day-by-day itinerary
After breakfast the group boarded their coach and travelled into Amsterdam for a much anticipated visit to Anne Frank’s House. Here the group were able to step behind the bookcase and venture up into the Secret Annex where Anne, her family and four other Jewish people hid between 1942 and 1944 to avoid arrest. An extremely thought provoking visit, which sparked a certain amount of debate. The next couple of hours were spent eating lunch and enjoying a little souvenir shopping.
This was followed by a relaxing canal cruise, before returning to their coach and a visit to the Ajax Arena Stadium to take part in the “World of Ajax” tour. The 90 minute guided tour, took the group around both the football arena and Ajax Museum, where a multi media presentation introduced them to the football clubs 100 year history.
Returning to their hotel early evening, the group decided to dine at a restaurant close to their base in Noordwijk, before spending the remainder of the evening at leisure.
The group travelled to Madurodam, Holland’s miniature Dutch city built on a scale of 1:25. The famous sites of Holland were all found here – the Alkmaar cheese market, the Peace Palace of the Hague, the Royal Palace, the Cathedral Tower of Utrecht and the canal houses of Amsterdam, as well as the world’s largest miniature railway!
The group ate lunch here before moving on to spend the afternoon at the Watersnood Museum, and the remainder of the evening at leisure.
The schools first visit of the day was to the Clara Maria Cheese and Clog factory, to learn of the traditional methods used to produce both cheese and clogs. The group enjoyed the hands on opportunity to assist the farmer with the day’s cheese making! A hearty lunch was enjoyed before visiting both the Jewish Historical Museum and Van Gogh Museum.
After returning to the hotel the group spent the evening enjoying free time exploring the local area.
The Keukenhof Park provided the perfect setting for the group’s final visit, where their senses were delighted by the sight and smell of over 7, 000 tulips, daffodils and hyacinths.
The group returned home on an early afternoon flight.
The Netherlands Accommodation
We recommend basing school groups in the coastal town of Noordwijk-aan-zee, just a short drive from the capital city of Amsterdam and within easy reach of many of the other popular visits. The coastal town has a host of restaurants, shops, cafes as well as a local bowling alley and miniature golf course, perfect for keeping your students entertained after the day’s excursions. Here are just two of our favourite Noordiwjk accommodation options:
Hotel De Ossewa
The Hotel de Ossewa in Noordwijk is superbly run by Arnold and Gerda Geerlings who go out of their way to give our groups a warm welcome. The Hotel is just 15 minutes’ walk from the beach and is just a short walk into the resort itself.
“Staff are very welcoming and happy to help. We were really pleased to have the whole hotel to ourselves - it makes such a difference not to have to worry about other guests.”
The downstairs section of the hotel is one large room which is the dining/sitting room area and also has a bar; this room can be adapted for evening activities such as a disco or games night. There is also a small garden and terrace area. The entire front and upper floor of the hotel has recently been renovated and all bedrooms now have private bathroom.
Hotel Aan Zee
Located just minutes from the beach and the town centre, this family run hotel is superbly located, has an attractive dining room, a lounge with bar, games facilities including a pool table, a TV and video. With 40 rooms, the Hotel Aan Zee is very well suited to groups. Most of the rooms have private facilities. Where possible, groups are accommodated together on one floor and students are accommodated mainly in rooms of 4 persons, leaders in twin bedded rooms. The owners, the Zonnefeld family, are very accustomed to working with school groups and our clients have consistently enjoyed their stays at this hotel.
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