Ghosts of Amsterdam

These images are the work of Jo Teeuwisse, a Historical Consultant in Amsterdam - and a master Retronaut. Over to Jo:

“Years ago I found some negatives in a fleamarket. I scanned them and put them online. I then found some of the spots in the photos and took pictures there.

In the picture above, you can see a group of young factory workers posing probably outside the factory during the war. I cheated a little bit by removing some pots of flowers which are on the steps today…!

The picture below is of the Liberation Parade on Friday June 29th, 1945 in the Vijzelstraat, Amsterdam.

The next picture is from the same parade and shows the Underground Press, wearing face masks. The banner carried is from “De Waarheid”, the Communist underground paper:

The next two pictures are of Reguliersgracht in Amsterdam. These people worked in a factory and the office part was perhaps in one of these buildings.

The next picture shows the SS Recruiting Office in Dam Square during the Occupation, across from the “Big” Club. Some great film footage exists of someone climbing onto the lower roof and smashing the SS windows with great force - and great pleasure:

The final two pictures are of Dam Square on Monday May 7th 1945, two days after the German surrender. Thousands of Dutch people were waiting for the liberators to arrive in the square. They had lived through five years of war and months of fear and hunger. In the “Big” Club, members of the Kriegsmarine watched as the crowd below their balcony grew and grew, people danced and cheered.

Then, for some reason, the Germans placed a machine-gun on the balcony and started shooting into the crowds. It has always remained uncertain why it happened but the tragic outcome was that, at the brink of peace, 120 people were badly injured and 22 people died.

The shooting finally came to an end after a member of the Resistance climbed into the tower of the Royal palace and started shooting onto the balcony and into the Club. Then a German officer together with a Resistance commander found their way into the Club and convinced the men to surrender.

The first picture shows Peek & Cloppenburg, a large shop that was already there in 1945. Today Madame Tussauds is in the same building as well. We can see three members of the Scouting movement, which had been outlawed by the Nazis. As soon as the War came to an end, they put on their old uniforms and started helping the resistance and the Allies. Three brave young people are crossing the square. The Club is in the right side of the photo, and we can also see the Royal palace tower.

Crowds filled the square very quickly when the Germans stopped shooting so its quite likely that these people were risking their lives. Note the shoes and hats dropped by the crowds as they fled for their lives:

In the final picture, we can see a wounded man being taken away from the square. There are no other people in the square at this point so the situation is still quite dangerous. The man on the left is a medic - he may be a doctor, a Red Cross volunteer or a member of the air-raid emergency groups. Luckily there were many present there on this day.

The building on the left in the Royal palace from which the Resistance started shooting back. On the right you see the “Nieuwe Kerk” (new church). Note the shoes and hats dropped by the crowds as they fled for their lives. The sidewalk is covered in blood and there is also a pram without a child in it.

During the shooting a toddler walked onto the square, a brave man risked his life to grab it out of the firing line. That film footage still makes me cry.”


Thanks very much indeed to Jo Teeuwisse.

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89 comments to Ghosts of Amsterdam

  • Ash

    Wow!!! That is amazing!!!

  • Scott Lloyd

    Jo, These are fantastic juxtapositions. Really wonderful work. Gives me some ideas…

  • Last Hussar

    A photographer has done similar with shots of Leningrad from the war- no so much the ‘ghosting’ of the 1st photo, but overlaying the modern shot with part of the wartime one. They are quite something too.

  • Chris

    How cool is that! You are clearly a Retronaut, Ian. (I love the name Last Hussar btw)

  • Ally

    This has got to be my favourite. Just brilliant

  • Ry

    This is an absolutely stunning project. So glad I got to see it and hope for more in the future!

  • Roy Tomeij

    “The Club is in the right side of the photo, and we can also see the Royal palace tower.”

    I believe it is on the left, across the street running on the left of the Peek & Cloppenburg building.

  • Chris

    Thanks Roy, that’s useful…

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  • jufjo

    Not sure if we are talking about the same photo but in the photo with the scouts and the big Peek & Cloppenburg store the Club is on the right side, the man with the white flag in his left hand is walking straight towards it.
    I can’t see the royal palace tower on it though.

    Nice to hear you all like them, I’ll be adding more soon :)

  • jufjo

    I’ve just added 2 more photos like these to my flickr account.

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  • alex

    gave me chills. thank you very much.

  • Claes

    Wow,so good,great idea to bring back old photos in to day…//Claes

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  • Jockey Wheeler

    Great retro work, loving the clarity of the ghost images, thank you.

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  • Rock Langston

    Inspired and inspiring use of old images. Great homage to the people and places in the photos. Very moving.

  • Photimages

    In the same kind :

  • Marcella

    Fantastic! I have some great photos of my family and war-torn Arnhem, I may try something like this for my walls. Thanks for sharing.

  • BlueMingo

    These are great ! Thank you so much for making and sharing them.

  • Nick Samsom

    I love these and came upon them by chance… I am a photography student and there is a photographer called Shimon Attie how does things like this too. Being Dutch myself I think these are almost better… Sorry but I’m sure you’ll understand.

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  • mark

    thanks for posting these. this work is beautiful Jo. thanks very much for sharing it. you also mentioned film that exists of people smashing the windows at the SS recruiting station and the man protecting the little girl in the dam square. is this viewable on line or is in an archive somewhere?

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  • Craig

    Jo, Fantastic! The image of the SS HQ is captivating. I think you are doing something very important as a Historical Consultant, and also as an Artist. Your images make history relevant to generations who would never look at a B&W photo. I urge you to find a gallery to exhibit large format prints of your work so they can be seen by as many people as possible. Good Luck! Peace and best wishes from Canada.

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  • Marty

    This is a similar concept in video-form I saw as part of a contest put on by the EYE Film Institute:

  • Catherine


  • jan1180

    similar idea with roll-over effect:

  • Kristine

    I have been to Amsterdam 3 times this year and it is so incredible to see something like this since I am always trying to imagine what happened on the very same streets I was walking down oh so many years ago. Just incredible.

  • Sebas

    I like this technique. It actually shows the history in the streets where people walk and meet everyday.

  • robert

    There a great Great effects I live in Amsterdam

  • Blondmyk

    Wow! These are amazing! Wonderful work, and with great power! Thanks for sharing these.

  • Elq

    Stunning. Beautiful. Thank you. An Amsterdammer

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  • Irish Berliner

    Great stuff. Works very well! I’d love to do something similar with Berlin.

  • andrian

    bloody good jobs
    thanks for sharing

  • Ruben Miranda

    AMAZING….this is the definition of ART

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  • Nelson

    Thank you for doing this and posting the photos so we could see them.

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  • linda macmillan

    past present and future all exist at the same time

  • jufjo

    Thanks all.
    I’d love to do more in different cities and maybe even different eras.
    But it takes a lot of time and I also have a company to run.
    Maybe someone sees a book in it and decides to fund my little photo mix and match hobby :)

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  • John | English Wilderness

    Fascinating work, thanks :-)

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  • Susan M

    Fabulous work and images. Many thanks for sharing.

  • Expattations

    Amazing, well played

  • SaylaVee

    I love how Jo Teeuwisse reduced the transparency of the old photos giving a ghost-like quality to the images. Her images bring the past to our present and make history more real to us. Books, textbooks and others, don’t give us a connected feeling to past events. Images, photographic or film, make it so much more real. Fantastic work, Jo Teeuwisse!

  • Studio K

    Past and Present with almost no diference, good work!!

  • Hans Karman

    Thanks for those photos of the Dam. I was there on 7 May 1945, and fortunately got away scot-free. I was near the corner of het Rokin, about from where the photo was taken. I can’t see anything of the Royal Palace in the picture with the Scouts, I think to the right of P & C is the gap of the Kalverstraat, and then the building of the Grote Club, where the shooting came from. There was still a street in between the Club and the Palace. I can’t place the stick that is at top right, nor the sign (?), maybe they are from the modern photo. Either way they would have been from the corner building Dam/Rokin. It’s a long time ago. I didn’t see the Scouts, nor the Dam without people, I was too busy running away, I was not quite 14 at the time, and a born Mokumer.

  • Simone

    AMAZING !!!!! Very well done !!!!!

  • maria reeves

    This is a heart wrenching bit of history that should not be forgotten.

    Sent this worthy work of art it to all known TV Stations and newspapers to be shown on November 11th every year.

    Let us not forget the fallen - our true heros.
    The Dutch people have never forgotten the Canadian soldiers who fought for the cause of freedom. Long live Holland.

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  • Maurice

    Very cool indeed!
    Living in Amsterdam I pass these places everyday.

    Very moving

  • Maarten

    The idea is great, execution is very poor.

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  • WiserBuddy

    The angles are perfect to merge the two images. Love it!

  • JDF

    I’ve just moved to Amsterdam from Melbourne, Australia. Being here and seeing the history still living in the buildings is one thing. What you have accomplished here is another. If one of your intentions was to bring home the resilience of a place then you have succeed indeed. It’s brilliant, I just might walk down to Dam square with this page on my phone after lunch.
    Thanks again.

  • Anna

    Wow very emotive and thought provoking. Never seen anything like this before amazing

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  • sean

    Perfect use of the medium!

  • Elisabeth

    Absolutely Moving.

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  • Valerie @ Life 4 me by me

    That is incredible! As a teacher of history I loved how the past seemed to cohabitate with the present in each scene. It looked so natural, beautiful and in some terrifying.

  • jufjo

    Thank you all for the kind words.
    I hope to create more in the future.

  • anna catastini

    I’m a teacher, and I will project to my students The ghosts of Amsterdam: they must see, and think and reflect.
    thanks for those photos

  • jufjo

    Thank you!
    Education is very important to me and I’m happy to hear you will be using my pictures for that.

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