The 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.

39 comments to The 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.

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