Marieke Oprel

Winner Dissertation Prize 2022

The burden of nationality. Dutch citizenship policies towards German nationals in the aftermath of the Second World War (1944-1967).

Supervisors: Prof. dr. Susan Legêne & Prof. dr. A.J.J. Nijhuis
Co-supervisor: Prof. dr. Wouter Veraart
Nomination: VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Humanities


Report by the selection committee

This dissertation reveals the all but forgotten history of German nationals in the Netherlands after World War II. It offers a theoretical and practical reflection on evolving ‘citizenship’ as a technical and normative concept for inclusion and exclusion. In this way, Oprel makes an important contribution to thinking about the political, social and cultural process of defining citizenship in the post-war years in the Netherlands.

The jury for the Dissertation Prizes was impressed by the scale of the research. It involved consulting, analysing and categorizing over 25,000 system cards with rudimentary details concerning citizens with the German nationality; reflecting theoretically on the digitization of such archives; researching legal systems and those who administer them; carrying out in-depth studies of carefully selected family histories; and talking to numerous people directly involved, especially children whose parents were declared enemy subjects.

Not only the scale, thoroughness and accessible style of the research, but also its originality commands respect. It involved a unique study of a largely forgotten – or probably repressed – piece of national history. In terms of method, this rich study successfully links the political, legal, historical and sociological dimensions of the theme, as well as the applied quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Although the research is primarily of value within the national context, it is also of international relevance. The brief comparison with similar policies in surrounding countries invites further comparable research. Finally, the jury notes the considerable relevance of this study today. Marieke Oprel wrote an impressive book, of great societal relevance.