War in Court

Duration: 2022-2027
Subsidy provider: Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Ministry of Justice and Security
Subsidy size: 18 million
Remarkable: The Central Archives of the Special Jurisdiction contains files of over 400,000 people suspected of collaborating with the German occupiers. It is the largest war archive in the Netherlands: 3.8 kilometres of archive, with around 30 million pages. The first pages -about 8 million- will be online and publicly accessible from January 2025. To that end, we will make 150,000 scans a week!
Valorisation: We are working on making typed, printed and handwritten documents full-text searchable. This way we will make this large and complex archive accessible to the general public in a new and innovative way. We do this by further refining our open-source transcription software Loghi. We are also developing software for document classification and separating documents within files, which can contain hundreds of pages.

The Central Archives of the Special Jurisdiction (CABR) is the largest war archive in the Netherlands, and one of the most important. It contains files of over 400,000 people suspected of collaboration. The archive can now only be accessed physically. This restriction will expire in 2025. In Oorlog voor de Rechter (War in Court), the CABR will be digitally and innovatively made accessible to a wide audience.

We are tackling this innovative access in several ways. We transcribe the archive with Loghi. The KNAW Humanities Cluster, of which the Huygens Institute is part, is developing this open-source software with the National Archives. It makes scanned historical documents digitally readable and searchable. Loghi also recognises handwriting, which is of great value for this archive full of personal letters and handwritten reports. We apply automatic document classification, so users can get a grip on the wide variety of documents. Finally, we develop content – such as explanations of legal terms and explainer videos – that helps users understand this complex archive. We involve users right from the start of development so that the website meets their needs and is attractive and easy to use.

Until 1 January 2025, the CABR can only be accessed physically and on request, in the National Archives’ reading room. Although thousands of people do this every year, this is a major barrier for many others. This archive contains important stories for both present and future generations. From children who want to know what their father did in the war, to historians researching the grey areas of collaboration. It will also be possible to find information about victims and events. Without digital access, this archive does not exist for many, especially younger generations. Only large-scale and easy access will keep this important archive with all facets of the war relevant, and allow us to continue learning from the past.

An important link in 20th-century history

War in Court builds on projects where handwritten text recognition is crucial, such as REPUBLIC and GLOBALISE. This offers many opportunities to do structured text analysis across a huge archive, something that is physically impossible. It also allows us to make links to other archives and sources, e.g. based on people and organisations.

In September 2023, digitisation of the archive started. We will launch the website on 1 January 2025. It will then contain the scans made up to that point; about 8 million of the total 30 million pages. After that, we will iteratively add the rest of the scans. Scanning of the archive will continue through the end of the project in 2027.


War in Court is a project of the National Archives, WO2NET, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Huygens Institute for History and Culture of the Netherlands. The National Archives holds the Central Archives on Special Jurisdiction, WO2NET takes care of the contextualisation and enrichment of the digitised CABR, the Huygens Institute applies its technical expertise to make the scans digitally searchable and NIOD has the expertise to interpret the meaning of the CABR in historiography and remembrance culture. Web development is in the hands of Spinque (technology) and IN10 (design).