Hilversum is a town and municipality in the Dutch province of Noord-Holland and the largest town in the Gooi region. Hilversum is home to many national broadcasting companies and is also referred to as the 'media city'.

The municipality of Hilversum has 91,110 inhabitants (August 1, 2020 source: CBS) on an area of 46.19 km² (of which 0.21 km² is water). After initially prosperous growth, the place fell sharply in population in the second half of the 20th century, from 100,000 in 1958 to less than 80,000 in 1999 (source: CBS). The municipality also referred to itself as a 'garden city' because of the green environment, which is part of the Green Heart, and because of the relatively large number of villas, as a 'villa village'.



The name Hilversum is in any case dated back to 1305 and according to G. van Berkel and K. Samplonius (2006) can be explained as Hilvertshem, which means "residence or settlement (hem) of the person Hilvert". That is in accordance with the statement of farm names such as Hilverink in the Achterhoek. A characteristic of the ending -hem is that it often occurs in combination with a person or animal name, such as Arnhem ("settlement of the Arent") and Bennekom (<Berinchem, "settlement of the people of Bero").

The memorial book Hilversum 1424-1924, compiled and published in 1924 by the municipality of Hilversum, states that if the above statement is correct, according to tradition this person Hilfert built his heme on what is now the Havenstraat, and refers to that on pages 21 to 23 in Paul Klopfers 'book Das Deutsche Bauern und Bürgerhaus Hilferts' heme is listed and depicted. It is also stated in the book that if the above statement were incorrect, the name could also come from 'hil' (hill). In addition, the book mentions that Hilversum in the local dialect that was used in the past is called Hulversom, and poses the question whether that should be the correct spelling, whereby the name explanation would of course also be different.



Early History
The upland Gooi is one of the oldest inhabited areas in the Netherlands. Prehistoric burial mounds and finds from the Hilversum culture still bear witness to this. Water collected in the lower places, and these became watering holes for the cattle. The villages of Hilversum, Laren, Blaricum and Bussum have developed around these waterholes. Due to the poor sandy soils, there was mainly sheep farming. Early Hilversumbers lived simply. For example, they never gave their hooves a name and, in contrast to Blaricummers and Huizers, where farmers placed wide, high hedges as boundaries (often thorns or beeches), almost all Hilversum farmers left the yard open or put a simple wooden fence around it. In the living area they often had a simple lawn with a few trees to provide shade. The hooves also never had any decoration, except sometimes anchors that were forged into curls to indicate the year of construction, in the style of austere, simple Saxon farms. It is striking that Hilversummers almost never had a floor on their farm: they wanted everything on the ground floor. The hooves were therefore very elongated. This phenomenon continued until at least 1880, when the Wilhelmina Hotel was opened. The 'old' Hilversummers thought that the hotel would not be a success because the hotel consisted of floors.

On March 4, 1424, Hilversum received the independent status of Jan (III) of Bavaria ("John without Grace"), of the Netherlands, Zeeland and Henegouwen (1418-1425) and thus became more independent of Laarderkerspel (Larekerspel) during the expansion of the own industry. The sale and processing of sheep wool was Hilversum's contribution to the regional economy in the Middle Ages.

On January 2, 1428 an official border (divorce of the ban) was drawn between Laarderkerspel and Hilversum, completing the independence. The border was assigned by Splinter van Nyenrode.

In 1585, de Tassis set fire to many houses during his plunder in Hilversum.

In 1629 Hilversum was again burned to the ground by Croatian mercenaries, led by the Italian general in Austro-Habsburg service, Count Ernesto Montecuccoli, who, together with Hendrik van den Bergh, the commander of the Spanish army in the Northern Netherlands, left Germany earlier that year. had raided the Veluwe to lure the troops of Stadtholder Frederik Hendrik away from the Siege of 's-Hertogenbosch.

In the 17th century, weaving mills grew strongly, and this industry continued to expand into the 20th century. The farming village grew steadily, but was ravaged by fires in 1725 and 1766 that largely destroyed the village.

On October 22, 1798, the city council decided to renumber all houses, from 1 to 841.

At the end of 1898 the city council decided to abolish the fair for a few years because it said it was "a waste of money" and there was "a lot of alcohol abuse" during the week off, as well as "dishonesty in the alleys of the village center". In 1899, on the date when the fair week would normally start, this led to a week of violence, including one death. The fair has taken place again since 1903 or 1904.


While wealthy Amsterdammers already settled in 's-Graveland in the 17th century, this only happened in Hilversum after the connection to the railway network in 1874. In 1882 the construction of the Gooische Steam Tram to Laren, Naarden, Muiden and Amsterdam was completed, which because of a number of fatal accidents, it was named the Gooise Murderer. The connection with Amsterdam was discontinued in 1939. The last tram in the Gooi was in service in 1947.

The construction of the aforementioned railway ensured that wealthy families, such as the Brenninkmeijer family (owners of C&A) and the Gockel family related to them, settled in Hilversum, as did the well-known Hilversum family Wortelboer. Partly because of these families, Hilversum gradually acquired a predominantly Catholic signature. This led to the construction of the large neo-Gothic St. Vitus Church for 1,800 people, designed by P.J.H. Cuypers, in 1892. At the end of the 1960s, Hilversum would have eight parish churches, two of which have already been demolished, one is in disuse and one has been converted into apartments.

After the arrival of the railway, Hilversum grew very quickly, initially due to the growth of the textile sector (weaving mills and related companies) and the establishment of carpet factories (of which the Veneta eventually remained). In 1918 the Nederlandsche Seintoestellen Fabriek started and after that the experimental radio broadcasts also started. This was followed by the establishment of broadcasters of all denominations. Television initially ended up in Bussum, but the construction of the Mediapark in Hilversum-Noord gathered all the broadcasting functions back in Hilversum. Since the disappearance of the larger industry, the media sector has been Hilversum's largest employer.

Paul Kruger in Hilversum
In 1901 and 1903 Paul Kruger, president of the South African Republic, stayed in Hilversum. Kruger traveled to the Netherlands to request support for the Afrikaners (also called Boers) in the Transvaal, who were at war with the English during the Second Boer War. He ended up in Hilversum after a doctor advised him to live on the high-altitude Trompenberg because he had been diagnosed with pneumonia. The house Kruger stayed in in 1901 was accidentally destroyed by British bombing in World War II. Kruger's second residence, 'Het Krugerhuis', is still there.

On May 10, 1940, the large transmission mast of Philips at the factory on Jan van der Heijdenstraat was blown up by order of the army. The mast hit a few houses. On May 15, 1940 a small column of the Wehrmacht reached Hilversum and reported to the AVRO studio to put the radio being under German control. The AVRO cooperated willingly. The occupation of Hilversum also took place without a bullet being fired.

At the beginning of the Second World War, the incumbent mayor K.L.C.M.I. de Wijkerslooth de Weerdesteijn issued a remarkable proclamation, in which he declared himself willing to take charge of the Dutch people. He was quickly replaced by mr. Ernst von Bönninghausen, a NSB member who collaborated with the occupier.

On May 14, 1940, four days after the German invasion, the Jewish SDAP councilor David Lopes Dias suddenly disappeared from Hilversum. The mayor later stated that he had a "secret mission". After a few months he returned unannounced and on September 4 he took his place as councilor again. When Hilversum got a NSB mayor, Von Bönninghausen, at the end of October, Lopes Dias resigned. Shortly afterwards he was arrested and taken away. He then wrote a letter that was published in the local press. After his arrest, he was deported to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he died in 1942.

On February 26, 1941 Hilversum workers took part in the (second day of the) February strike against the persecution of the Jews. The Nederlandsche Seintoestellen Fabriek (NSF), among others, emptied and almost 3,000 people took to the streets of that company alone, but also workers from metal company Ensink, paint factory Ripolin, the milk factory and other companies took part. In the center a procession of, according to some 10,000 people, moved to the new town hall. The procession was stopped there by armed German soldiers and returned. As of 1942, the municipality was fined for this with the levy of an extra tax of 2.5 million guilders.


The headquarters of the German army in the Netherlands, the Wehrmacht, under the command of General Christiansen, commander in chief of the Dutch part of the Wehrmacht, was moved from The Hague in 1942 in connection with a possible invasion from the sea and located in the new town hall of Hilversum. The tower was heavily camouflaged for that purpose, while at another point of the building a FLAK section was placed for the anti-aircraft defense. The actual town hall was housed in Hotel Gooiland. The Wehrmacht troops were stationed in the Trompenberg district. As a result of General Christiansen's establishment in Hilversum, part of the municipality, the villa district around the Verdilaan and the Rüdelsheim estate (a former Jewish institution for mental health care), were declared 'Sperrgebiet' and defenses including bunkers were built. For example, a tank wall was laid around the entire municipality and around the still young airport, about 5 km from the built-up area. The bunkers still exist and are nicknamed 'Wisseloordbunkers' after the country house of the same name. or 'Blaskowitzbunker', after the last German general to reside there. The Trompenberg district was heavily bombed by the Allies in 1944.

Jewish life
Before the Second World War, Hilversum was home to about six hundred Jewish families and about 1,000 Jewish refugees (a relatively high number). Most of the Jews were active in trade or butchery. There was a synagogue on the Zeedijk. After the war there were still 200 Jews.

The Jewish Rüdelsheim Foundation was located on the Verdilaan in Hilversum, whose aim was to teach mentally handicapped children skills. In the wooded area of ​​Hilversum, a stately building, "Beth Azarja", with surrounding land was purchased. In 1930 a second shelter was built on the site. The number of children rose to 75. In April 1942, the grounds of the Rüdelsheim Foundation were confiscated by the Wehrmacht, which established its new headquarters there. The children were housed elsewhere in Hilversum. On April 7, 1943, all children were deported to concentration camps in Eastern Europe.

The prosecution of Jewish students and teachers at Hilversum schools proceeded almost without resistance. In 1942 they were sent to specially established Jewish schools, including a lyceum led by Drs. S.A. Rodrigues Pereira. Until his forced resignation he was a teacher of classical languages ​​at the municipal gymnasium in Hilversum, and also chief rabbi of the Portuguese-Israelite Congregation in The Hague. The rector of the municipal gymnasium, Dr. A. Makkink, like most school leaders, cooperated without resistance on the assignment to submit lists of Jewish students to the municipality, so that these students and teachers could be removed from the schools. At the gymnasium there were two teachers, plus seven boys and five girls, of whom it was later revealed that four were killed in Auschwitz and Sobibór in 1943. At the municipal HBS, however, the director, Dr. K.W. Rutgers, and a teacher, Mr. H.F.J. Westerveld, arrested for their refusal to cooperate in the persecution of the Jews.

On June 20, 1942, the Jewish lyceum was again closed by the municipality, because according to the NSB mayor Jhr Von Bönninghausen most of the students had already left the lyceum (decision AZ no. 2604, Gooiland regional archives, Hilversum municipal archives, 1940-1989, inv. No. A 2015).

Several resistance groups were active, some of which were betrayed and members executed, including eight employees of the Nederlandsche Seintoestellen Fabriek. The Albrecht group also worked with a few scouts in Hilversum, and achieved, among other things, that the estate with the German command bunker of the commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht in the Netherlands, General Blaskowitz ('Blaskowitzbunker'), was bombed. The group U61 was also active, to the address Utrechtseweg 61, where a pastor lived. A number of people from this group were also betrayed and taken away or executed.

Airport and aircraft manufacturing

Hilversum airfield was attacked in the early morning of May 10, 1940 by Luftwaffe aircraft, but damage to the airfield was limited. One of the flying German planes was hit by the Dutch anti-aircraft guns and made an emergency landing near Hilversum. After the capitulation, the airfield was immediately taken over by the German occupier, after which considerable expansions of the airfield quickly took place. Various buildings and facilities were added, including a barracks for the Luftwaffe, parts of which are still in use by the Royal Netherlands Army as a training center for the medical troops (Korporaal Van Oudheusden barracks), but initially with the Royal Navy as the Marine Training Camp (MOK ). In 1942 the importance of the airfield for the German occupying forces increased considerably with the establishment of the headquarters of all German combat troops (Wehrmacht) stationed in the Netherlands, under the supreme command of General Friedrich Christiansen, in the town hall of Hilversum.

After the Fokker factories in Amsterdam-Noord were heavily bombed by Allied aircraft on 17 July 1943, the production of Fokker was moved to Weesp and Hilversum airport, where about 700 Bücker Bü 181 "Bestmann" training aircraft were assembled.

In the autumn of 1944, the Germans started a new type of raid, targeting all boys and men between 15 and 55 years old; This system was tried out in Hilversum and Bussum, among others. About 4,000 boys and men from Hilversum were thus arrested from 23 October 1944 and taken away by the occupying forces from the Municipal Sports Park, partly to Bramsche, partly to the vicinity of Hanover. On October 24, another 1,500 men and boys from Laren and Bussum were added. A plaque unveiled in 1997 by Mayor J.G. Kraaijeveld-Wouters.

Newspaper and broadcaster
The local daily newspaper De Gooi- en Eemlander sided with Nazi Germany and was banned from publishing for some time in 1945, but then recovered. The broadcasters also often cooperated to a great extent with the demands of the German occupiers, as the journalist Dick Verkijk wrote in his book about the broadcasters during the war, but remained unaffected after the liberation. Professional musicians in Hilversum were threatened with the German Arbeitseinsatz in 1944. The German jazz violinist and orchestra leader Helmut Zacharias, who performed with his orchestra (formally part of the German army) in Hilversum for the Nederlandsche Omroep - founded by Germans, and often participated in private jam sessions), warned Dutch colleagues times for raids, and as a result was transferred to the Eastern Front.

After Mad Tuesday (September 5, 1944) the Nederlandsche Omroep disintegrated. Due to the major raid of October 1944, many radio musicians ended up in camp Amersfoort. Most managed to get out pretty quickly; orchestra leader Klaas van Beeck and a few others were put to work in Germany for some time. After the liberation in Hilversum a purification committee assessed the radio musicians, but pleaded most of them free from collaboration. Only Theo Uden Masman of the very popular orchestra The Ramblers and Dick Willebrandts were not allowed to conduct an orchestra for six months. The Ramblers nevertheless immediately returned, temporarily led by drummer Kees Kranenburg, but they faced protests and demonstrations from former resistance fighters for some time.

In the Rosarium on Boomberglaan is the monument to the fallen from the occupation (by professor Esser). It is the place where the commemoration takes place on May 4. In the former central cemetery near the old church is a monument commemorating Mauthausen. A total of 2,300 Hilversumbers lost their lives during the war (including the forced laborers who died in Bramsche).

Latest history
After the war, Prince Bernhard took up his new position as Inspector General of the Armed Forces on the Zwaluwenberg, located between Hilversum and Hollandsche Rading, until the Prince had to give up this position in 1976 in connection with the Lockheed affair. The Inspector General with his staff still resides here.


In the 1950s and 1960s, Hilversum carried out a major new construction program in the east and north of the municipality, while the population increased by one third. In 1958 the number of inhabitants passed the limit of 100,000 (in schools the students were given rusk with mice by the municipality). Also in the 1970s Hilversum expanded with the neighborhoods Kerkelanden and the Hilversumse Meent in the west, which is close to Bussum. Hilversum then also had more than 100,000 inhabitants. After this, the number of inhabitants decreased quite sharply, reaching its deepest point in 1999 with just over 80,000 inhabitants. The main causes were the loss of industry and - as was the case elsewhere - lower housing occupation (a smaller number of people per household). Unclear municipal politics (such as the halfway termination of the construction of a four-lane bypass), large-scale vacancy of shops in the center and the limited possibilities for expansion of Hilversum were not very conducive to growth.

Fairly significant demolition campaigns took place in the center (station, old shopping center, old hotels), in the residential areas (for example due to the new construction of the AKN building) and at the sports park (Expohal, trotter track). The restoration of the town hall was delayed for a long time and then turned out to be much more expensive than anticipated. Partly because of this, and because of the strongly declining population, Hilversum got into serious financial problems for years. Continuing traffic problems have also taken their toll. The expansion of the broadcaster with commercial channels, the arrival of Nike's European headquarters and the construction of the Sound and Vision museum, which proved successful, were positive. The last few years have again shown a cautious increase in the population. On the east side, Hilversum will be expanded with the Anna's Hoeve district.

Dissatisfaction with the inadequate infrastructure and political quarrels was reflected in the emergence of the first local Liveable party, Liveable Hilversum.

On May 6, 2002, during the election campaign for the Lower House, the politician Pim Fortuyn was shot dead by Volkert van der Graaf at the Media Park.

In 2004, an advisory corrective referendum was held for the first time in Hilversum on the Parking Regulation. The turnout of more than 27% was too low to be valid. Incidentally, three quarters of the voters were against the municipal parking policy - which was not changed.