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Terenja van Dijk




Underground press during the Second World War

Commissioned by the Antwerp Municipal Library and the Institute for Social History (Amsab) [2004]

Scenography and production of exhibition; direction and production of film ‘Witnesses’

The underground press – texts produced by the resistance against the Germans and their allies during the Second World War – reveals a dramatic time during which democracy and human rights experienced a profound crisis. The underground press offers a striking illustration of the power of words and nonviolent resistance.

The exhibition ‘Counterpressure’ begins by confronting the visitor with official documents controlled by the occupier: carefully designed propaganda like the official journal Signaal, posters, and a jubilant film report on the 100,000th Belgian laborer to leave for Germany.

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The publications of the underground press are hidden in drawers and behind shutters, are only available ‘under the table’ – just as they were during the Second World War. In the silence of the small niches off the main aisle, striking citations from these clandestine documents are projected using slides. The themes handled in the citations – collaboration, food rationing, work opportunities, humor – are introduced by a photo and text outside the niche.

The exhibition forces the viewer to take a critical look at the media and the facts during times of war and occupation.


A film eye-witness accounts by several former members of the resistance shows how men and women defended the freedom of the press in practice at the risk of their own lives, and how they made choices – often without knowing the actual consequences.

At the right, a film clip featuring Jeanne Brabants and Staf Vivys.

  • Stadsbibliotheek Antwerpen
  • An Renard Amsab
  • Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis
  • Martine Vermandere
  • Bruno De Wever
  • Jan Laplasse
  • Karolien Steen
  • Gert De Prins
  • Dirk Martine
  • Roel Vandewinkel
  • Terenja van Dijk
  • An Renard
  • Martine Vermandere
  • Terenja van Dijk
  • Terenja van Dijk in cooperation with Randoald Sabbe
  • With particular thanks to the workshops of the Special Assignments division of the city of Antwerp
Audiovisual productions
Direction and production
  • Terenja van Dijk
Camera and sound
  • Jess De Gruyter
  • Jess De Gruyter en Terenja van Dijk
  • Gert De Prins
  • Jan Laplasse
Slide technician
  • Ludo Engels (LEAV)
Audiovisual technician
  • Patrick Hermans (Sony)
  • Bruno De Wever
  • Gert De Prins
  • Jan Laplasse
  • Karolien Steen
  • Terenja van Dijk
  • Martine Vermandere
  • Jeanne Brabants
  • Louise Reyniers
  • Gustaaf Vivys
  • Sylvia
  • Roger and Eddy Ceulemans
  • ‘Counterpressure. Underground press during the Second World War’ Editing: Paule Verbrugge, AMSAB
Scholarly support
  • SOMA Study and Documentation Center on War and Contemporary Society: Jan laplasse, Fabrice Maerten, Dirk Martin, Karolien Steen
  • Department of Modern History, University of Ghent: Bruno De Wever
  • Archive and Documentation Center of the Resistance Organization White Brigade – Fidelo
  • Cultural Heritage Unit, city of Antwerp