This collection includes 4860 resistance poems written in the occupied Netherlands during the war years. The poems frequently refer to the political situation at the time and were often passed from hand to hand. As a rule, the authors are unknown, since writing subversive texts was as illegal and liable to punishment, as was stenciling them. The poems were donated to the Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie-NIOD (Netherlands Institute for War Documentation) by the authors, their surviving relatives, or by people who came into possession of them at the time. There are different versions of some poems because the text was often adapted to the current situation.
What renders this collection so interesting is not so much the literary quality of the poems, but their actual contents: how did the people in the Netherlands experience the war years, what angered them, what were they afraid of or sad about? We learn what kept them busy and what they thought important enough at the time to write down in a poem. The subjects of the poems did not always concern the major events that make the history books.
The question of whether or not these authors were gifted with great literary talent is not of much importance. As Loe de Jong put it in volume 7 of his Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog (The Kingdom of the Netherlands during the Second World War): ‘Poetry? Yes, it rhymes. As far as poetry is concerned, there is, we fear, no more to be said. But precisely such strophes express with the greatest possible acuity what the public at large felt: hatred of the power which had assaulted the country by surprise, aversion to the tyranny that was to weigh down more heavily year after year'.