The Hague: city of film

Film producer Loet Barnstijn (1880-1953) purchased the 17th century Oosterbeek country estate in 1935. There, he built two recording studios, a sound studio, technical workshops, a film safe, a transformer substation and offices and named the complex Filmstad Wassenaar.

One of the films shot there was Merijntje Gijsens jeugd (1936), based on A.M. de Jong’s book of the same name. However, things did not go as planned and the business was in bad shape when World War II broke out. Barnstijn, who was of Jewish origin, was in New York at that time.


The business was taken over by the leading film studio in Germany and renamed UFA Filmstad Den Haag. At least twenty German films were produced there between 1941 and 1944, including Rembrandt, the Nazi film directed by Hans Steinhoff.


In April 1944, Oosterbeek was bombed by the British, who suspected that it housed a workshop for V1 and V2 missiles. That brought filming activities on the estate to a definite end. When Barnstijn returned to the Netherlands after the war, the government refused to indemnify him, because his fellow shareholders were said to have cooperated with the so-called sale. He ran an office that rented out American motion pictures from the remaining buildings of Filmstad Wassenaar until he emigrated to the United States in 1950. Filmstad was acquired by the municipality of The Hague in 1953.

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