Clandestine Photography during the German Occupation > Hendrik [Hans] Sibbelee (1915-2003)

Exhausted man lying on an outer staircase during the Winter of Starvation, Amsterdam (1945)In the years 1933-35, Hans Sibbelee was doing a course in electrical engineering in Tiel. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Sibbelee decided to join the International Brigade. Sibbelee left for Spain in 1937 and was given a Leica to take pictures while travelling; that is how his career as a photographer began.

During the German Occupation, Sibbelee took classes in the history of art. The Ministry of Education, Arts and Science commissioned him to photograph the most significant monuments in the Netherlands. As an electrical engineer, Sibbelee played an important role in the resistance by building radio receivers. In addition, he documented his clandestine activities, some of them at Kromme Waal 31 in Amsterdam, his hiding place. He also recorded weapons training sessions and weapons instructions. The relative negatives probably got lost.

During the Occupation, Sibbelee had actively engaged in photographing works of art and buildings of architectural interest. After the liberation, he continued to do so and cooperated closely with the publishers Contact. From that time on, he concentrated on photographing religious architecture and sculptures, castles in the Netherlands and contemporary architecture. Many of the books on religious art were made in cooperation with Professor Frits van der Meer, a Father he had met during the war years.

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