The Last Vermeer is an entertaining but not entirely accurate film about the forger Han Van Meegeren. Opening in May 1945, at the end of the Second World War, Nazi collaborators are show being executed by firing squad, in the street, surrounded by crowds of people. The executions are of people found guilty of treason rather than ad-hoc shootings of suspects.

Here is a still from the trailer on IMDB.com enter image description here

Did such public executions take place, and if so were they carried out without barriers between the audience, passers-by etc. and the soldiers firing the weapons, as shown in the film?

  • Does Wikipedia answer?
    – MCW
    Commented Apr 3 at 0:02
  • 2
    @MCW The associated links don't mention whether the executions were public or not. Commented Apr 3 at 8:26
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    The execution squad is formed by members of the Koninklijke Marechaussee (military constabulary). The uniform seems correct. But this never ever happened in real life. I served in the Marechaussee, never heard anything like it.
    – Jos
    Commented Apr 3 at 10:38

1 Answer 1


No, all executions were done in prison, military barracks or execution grounds

Most of the executions took place on the Waalsdorpervlakte (in Dutch). Those executions were done on court orders, without public being present.

Executions were performed by firing squad. To sentence the deluge of quislings, a new court was formed: het Bijzondere Gerechtshof. That court convicted 14.000 quislings. 145 were condemned to death. 43 death sentences were carried out, all by firing squad. The last execution was carried out in 1952, and was the last execution in The Netherlands.

Mistreatment of quislings (in Dutch we call them NSBers) did happen, but rarely ended in death. Before the war's end the Dutch longed for 'bijltjesdag' (Day of the Axes, or the moment of reckoning; bijl = axe, dag = day) but compared with other occupied countries, the violence was fairly restraint.

I've been to the Waalsdorpervlakte myself a few times. I used to live close by. It is a sandy field in the dunes near Scheveningen. The Germans used it for executions during the war. After the war the Dutch government used the place to execute quislings. It is now a national monument.

The bell you see is named Bombardon and is rung at 20.00 hrs on 4 May, by volunteers dressed in Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten (formal resistance) uniforms. That is televised nationwide on most TV channels live.

Clock on the execution ground

As a side note, the last civilian execution in The Netherlands was public and by hanging: Johannes Nathan (Dutch only) in 1860. He was executed in Maastricht.

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    For further comparison, the state I live in (Oklahoma) last executed someone 4 months ago, and currently has about the same amount of men that Netherlands executed sitting on "death row" right now awaiting their turn.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 3 at 13:49

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