Holocaust In The Netherlands
Posted 12 June 2003 - 03:45 PM
As I mentioned to you, the author of the book my Mother got me, tries to find an answer to the same questions we have. The book was written by Dutch historian Nanda van der Zee and is called "Om erger te voorkomen" (to prevent worse).
She tries to find an answer that goes further than all the odd explanations, like the well organized Dutch public administrations, the role of the Jewish Council and the implementation of German installed civil authorities. The latter immediately raises another question: Why were the Netherlands merely the only Western European country with a German installed civil government? What was the role of the Supreme High Court?
Although her conclusions are most certainly not widely accepted in the Netherlands, in fact partly controversed by other historians, I think I have to study it closer. It will take me some time, but it can't be a coincidence my Mother saves a book from a neighbour trying to throw it away in his great spring clean up, while I'm studying the subject, can it?
Posted 12 June 2003 - 09:13 PM
It's a rare mother who does not know her son. And a lucky son who's mother salvages books from the trash heap! I'm sure it's a sign. BK
... it can't be a coincidence my Mother saves a book from a neighbour trying to throw it away in his great spring clean up, while I'm studying the subject, can it?
Posted 25 June 2003 - 04:57 PM
In late May disturbing rumours began circulating within the Jewish community. Quaker sources made known that Germans would soon start deporting Jews out of Holland. On June 26th, 1942 Ferdinand Aus der Fünten (Commander of the German Special Police in Amsterdam) summoned high ranking members of the Jewish Council to a special meeting. At this meeting Aus der Fünten made the announcement that the Germans wanted to begin sending contingents of Dutch Jews, aged 16 to 40, to do "labor service" in Germany. What is more, the Nazis wanted the cooperation of the Jewish Council in securing people for this "labour service." David Cohen, co-chairman of the Council, declared that such work violated international law, which specifically forbade the conscription of civilians in occupied countries. Aus der Fünten merely brushed aside Cohen's objections. Whether the Jewish Council assisted or not, the Germans would induct Jews for "labour service" in Germany. After much painful discussion, the senior members of the Jewish Council decided they had no other option: they would assist the Germans in their plans. Part of their thinking was that if Jews themselves were involved with the process then they, the Jews of the Council, could make the ordeal a whole lot more bearable. Another factor in the Council's decision was the hope that the War would be soon over. Since December America had been in the War and many people in Holland were convinced it was now only a matter of a few months before Germany would be defeated and the enemy would be out of their country.
The Jewish Council did not prepare the list of people to be conscripted itself. This was done by the Amsterdam branch of the Central Office for Jewish Immigration, a bureau which Adolph Eichmann had set up in all the occupied countries. Over the next few days staff members at this bureau would put together the names of the first 4,000 Jews who would be sent to Germany for "labour service." They worked from the records which had been compiled from the special Jewish census taken in January, 1941. These first inductees consisted primarily of Jews who were young, single, and had come from Germany. On Sunday, July 5th, 1942 the Immigration Office sent out notices to these first inductees. The notices went out by special delivery, and people were told that they were to report for "labour service" within the week. The notice also contained a list of clothing items each person was to bring along. One of the people receiving the "labour service" summons that day was Anne Frank's 16 year old sister, Margot. For months now Otto Frank had been making preparations to go into hiding. The plan had been that they would go to their hiding place somewhere at the end of July, but with Margot's summons, the Franks went into hiding the very next day. The Franks at this time were something of an exception. They had a plan of action, something most Jews did not have. Within the Jewish community there was great confusion as to what to do. Should one obey the summons or not? The Jewish Council said "Yes", do as the Germans say. Others were less sure. Many young people were to obey the summons and did report. Why? In some cases, people felt if they didn't go and report they would put their parents in danger. Others felt they had to go because that is what the authorities were asking and one did as the authorities asked. Many did report, but also many did not.
It soon became evident that the Germans weren't going to have all the 4,000 Jews that they wanted. Something had to be done. July 15th had been set as the day that the first batch of Jews would leave Holland. One day before the Germans went and randomly arrested 700 Jews to serve as hostages. The Germans made the Jewish Council put out a special edition of their weekly newspaper. The front page article warned that all 700 arrestees would be sent to a concentration camp if the 4000 inductees did not now come forward and report for service. Some now did, some did not.
How was Holland's non-Jewish community reacting to these events? On July 11th, 1942 a coalition of Protestant and Catholic clergymen sent a telegram of protest to Seyss-Inquart. They declared their "outrage" at the imminent deportations. Such actions, the clergymen wrote, "Ran counter to divine commandments of justice and charity." They ended their telegram by saying that on the following Sunday they would proclaim their protest in pulpits all over the country. Should the clergymen do that, Seyss-Inquart warned them, he would no longer respect the relatively protected status which up to now baptized Jews in Holland had been enjoying. The Protestant pastors did back down in the face of this threat, but the Catholic priests went ahead and read the protest in their churches. The next day Seyss-Inquart had arrested all Jews who had converted as Catholics. In its radio broadcasts from London, the Dutch government-in-exile called upon the Dutch people to resist the German' efforts at--what would we now call--ethnic cleaning. Unfortunately, the government-in-exile failed to propose specific proposals as to what the Dutch people should do to stop the deportations.
In any case, on July 15th the first train of train of Jews left Holland. Those on board thought they were going to "work camps" in Germany. How wrong this would turn out to be. Meanwhile, back in Amsterdam the Germans wanted to deport 4,000 Jews with each new week. In talking with Jewish Council officials, the Nazis repeatedly emphasized that what the Jews would be doing in Germany would be simple, ordinary work. It had the sound of plausibility. It was common knowledge that the labour market was extremely tight in Germany, that there was not enough workers to build all the armaments that the Germans needed for their war machine. Jews were needed. To do work. It seemed so logical. The Germans also began saying at this time--that Jews inducted for "labour service" would be allowed--and would be encouraged--to bring along their families to the work camps. The Germans did not wish to see children separated from their parents. During the month of July the Immigration Office continued to mail out summons to people telling them to report for "labour service" in Germany. Again, there were people who obeyed the summons and presented themselves for service. And, again, one asks why, Jews, the Germans threatened, who did not report for labour service would be sent to Mauthausen. Hardly anyone wanted to go work in Germany, but to be sent to Mauthausen was to be handed a death sentence. Something else: more than most west European Jews, the Jews of Holland had within its ranks a significant number of workers and labourers. To go now and do labour service in Germany might not be so different from what so many so long had been doing. Perhaps, too, it was better to go to Germany and have some work than to stay in Holland and have no work at all.
More Jews, however, were choosing not to obey the summons and report for "labour service." Just what "labour service" exactly entailed in Germany, no one knew. But most people knew, or believed they knew, what the Nazis thought about the Jews. Unpleasant as it might have become in Holland, many people thought it far better to stay in Holland and not go and deal with the Nazis on their own soil: Germany. Faced with ever more non-compliance, the Germans now fundamentally changed their methods. No longer would they mail out summons. Now they would be ever so more forceful. Beginning in August, 1942 the Nazis would go out and simply arrest Jews. By now 90% of all Jews in Holland were living in a few highly concentrated districts of Amsterdam. Few Jews in Western Europe were as vulnerable as now were the Jews of Holland. In making their arrests, the Germans (and often with the help of Dutch police) would simply go and pick up anyone on the street wearing a yellow star. (To not wear the star was an offence punishable by being sent straight to Mauthausen.) Even more commonly, the Germans would conduct nightly raids where they block off whole neighbourhoods and arrest Jewish families apartment by apartment.
Posted 30 June 2003 - 03:04 PM
By the end of 1943, not only were the Nazis arresting Jews in their homes, but by now they had begun to arresting people in Jewish orphanages, Jewish hospitals, and Jewish homes for the aged. People wondered what kind of “labour service” could the Germans get out of 85 year old women or two year old children. Just as disturbing was the fact that virtually no one in Amsterdam had received any mail from those who had gone away on “labour service.” The problems of war time, said the Germans. But not everyone was so reassured. Still, few people were ready not to take the Germans at their word. Possibly the tolerance which the Jews had enjoyed so long in Holland was proving now to be a curse. For hundreds of years they had been spared the programs and the ugly acts of anti-Semitism which had been so much the lot of so many Jews in Europe. Faced now with the Nazis, the Jews of Holland could not perceive the danger in a way which was more instinctive, for example, to the Jews of Russia and Poland.
Most of the Dutch Jews had no idea as to what was actually transpiring in the German work camps. Still, most people's feeling was nothing too good could be happening in the camps, especially if you were either young or old and you might not be able to do the kind of work that the Germans wanted. Ever more people were deciding that they did not want to fall into the hands of the Nazis. But what could they do?
Escaping Holland was not a viable option. The country's geography was a formidable obstacle. To the south of Holland was Belgium, a country also in the hands of the Germans. East of Holland was Germany itself and that, of course, was no place in which to flee. West and north of Holland was the North Sea, but all along the coast the Germans had it under heavy, heavy control. Finding a boat and somehow taking it to England was not something doable. Unlike either France or Norway, Holland had no neutral country on its borders to where Jews might be able to find refuge. Within Holland itself the country was mostly flat and heavily populated. There were no great forests or isolated areas where Jews might hide, something some Jews could do in, say, France or Russia. Before the time of the capitulation, Holland had seemed to the Jews to be the safest country imaginable; overnight the Jews found that Dutch geography had conspired to make their country one vast trap.
There was another means of avoiding "labour service" in Germany. It could not actually prevent you from being deported but it could delay you from being deported. The longer you could remain in Holland the better. In 1942 many people were convinced, perhaps irrationally, that German military collapse was imminent. Remain in Holland and you would be there when the English and Americans came marching in. For many Jews the best way of securing such a delay was to get a job with the Jewish Council. Back in June, 1942 the Germans had told the Jewish Council's directors that they would exempt all of its employees from "labour service." At least, for the time being. Not only would each Jewish Council employee be exempted from the "labour service" but so would be each employee's immediate family members. Needless to say, many Jews tried to get a job with the Jewish Council. Many were hired and by December, 1942 some 7,000 people were working for the Jewish Council. They did a variety of services for the Jewish community, including social, health, and educational ones. Operations of the Council were largely financed by the money the Germans had confiscated from Jewish bank accounts. Obviously as more and more Jews were being deported out of Holland, there was an ever smaller Jewish community which needed to have its services taken care of. The Jewish Council needed ever less employees, and beginning in spring, 1943 the Germans began revoking many exemptions. Former Jewish Council workers were now themselves having to go and do their "labour service" in Germany. Gradually all exemptions were revoked and by September 1943, all employees of the Jewish Council were arrested, including its senior directors, Asscher and Cohen. The Jewish community in Holland had come to an end.
By this time the Germans had deported nearly 110,000 Jews out of Holland. This leaves a gap of 30,000 and these were Jews who had chosen to hide, to "onderduiken", to submerge, as the Dutch call it. The Frank family who had gone into hiding when daughter Margot received her call-up notice on July 5th, 1942, were a somewhat unusual case. Most people who went into hiding did so as individuals; very few families as a whole went into hiding. Also, the Franks were, as far as can be determined, one of the first Jews to go into hiding. It was something they had been planning for several months before. Most Jews did not go into hiding, or contemplate go into hiding, until well after the Germans began embarking on their big manhunts in fall 1942. Of the 30,000 Jews who went into hiding some 2/3 of them were Jews from Germany. Why proportionally so many German Jews and so few Dutch ones? One can perhaps conjecture that the German Jews grasped more fully the evil to which the Nazis were capable. Also many of them may have had more money than the Dutch Jews which allowed them to go into hiding.
That more Dutch Jews did not hide themselves can be explained in other ways. The Germans had forbidden Jews to change their addresses unless they had official permission. Obviously if you were going under hiding you would be changing your address, but you wouldn't want to go and tell the police and inform them of your address change. Thus, you were committing a felony. Among everything else, the Germans had declared that the penalty for going in hiding would be punished by being sent to Mauthausen. Again, for many it was easier to contemplate going to do "labour service" than being shipped off to Mauthausen. In going under hiding one officially lost one's identity; legally, at least, you could no longer receive rations. If you wanted food, you would have to largely get your food from the black market where its price had skyrocketed. Going into hiding entailed great expense. Thanks to the Nazis and all their measures most Jews were impoverished by July 1942. Thus, they did not have the money needed to go in hiding.
Many Jews who could have gone in hiding refused the chance, not wishing to abandon family members who themselves did not have a place to hide. Other Jews would not go into hiding because they were afraid of endangering their Gentile benefactors. Hiding Jews in Holland was not a capital offence as it was in Poland, but Dutch Christians who did hide Jews were threatened with being sent to concentration camps. Many Dutch Christians who did help Jews did end up in German concentration camps. Going in hiding often required having good friends who would be willing to help you. Unfortunately, in war-time Holland close friendships between Jews and Christian were not that common. This was not a matter of intolerance, or anti-Semitism, but the consequence of what the Dutch call "verzuiling". This was the stratification of Dutch society largely along the lines of religion. Before the War there was little in the way of social mixing between Dutch people of different religions. If you were a Catholic you most likely worked with other Catholics, you read Catholic newspapers, you listened to Catholic radio stations, your children went to Catholic schools, and your friends were almost all fellow-Catholics. It was exactly the same for Dutch Protestants, and for Dutch Jews. Consequently, there was little in the way of personal friendships between people of different faiths. To a certain extent "verzuiling" may have preserved social harmony in Holland, but it was to have dreadful repercussions when the deportations began in 1942. Few Jews had the kind of friends in the Gentile community whom they could go and turn to when they now needed places to hide. The verzuiling may have contributed to the indifference that some Dutch Gentiles felt toward the Jews and their plight: the Jews were part of us, but they weren't a part of us. Of the 30,000 Jews who went into hiding, about half of them ultimately were captured. Long after the Germans had started losing the War they remained obsessed in getting every single Jew out of Holland, something which was not the case in France and many of the other occupied countries.
Once the Jews were arrested, they were given usually about 10 minutes in which to gather a few personal belongings. Afterwards they had to hand over the key to their apartment. The apartment itself was then locked and sealed. Everything in the apartment, all possessions became property of the Third Reich. As for the Jews themselves, they were (if they were in Amsterdam) taken to the so-called "Joodse Schouwburg", the Jewish Theatre. Before the War it had been one of Amsterdam's most glittering theatres. For a while in 1941 and 1942 the Nazis had let the Jews put on their plays and concerts. Once the deportations began, the Nazis took to using the Schouwburg as an assembly place for the arrested Jews. Usually they remained there a couple of days, mostly occupied by filling out forms. Picture of the Joodse Schouwburg:
From the Schouwburg the Jews were taken in special streetcars to Amsterdam's Centraal Station. Here they boarded sealed trains which took them to Westerbork. Remember Westerbork? Back in 1939 the Dutch government had opened it as a detention camp for illegal aliens, mostly German Jews. In 1942 the Nazis took Westerbork over and they now had themselves a ready-made location in which to now hold Jews in Holland. Most Jews who came to Westerbork spent the average of two weeks there. Once a week Berlin would send a telex to German officials in The Hague telling them how many Jews they were to send that particular week for "labour service" in Germany. In turn, this telex would be sent on to Camp Westerbork, where the requested number of people would be selected. Usually Monday evenings was the time they would announce who would be going on transport.
Almost always the people would start boarding the trains at 7:00 the next morning; almost always the trains would leave at 11:00. The people, of course, travelled not in carriages but were put in cattle cars. In this manner 93 trains left Westerbork. The first one departed on July 15, 1942; the last would leave on September 6, 1944 (with the Frank family on board). About 2/3 of the trains would go to Auschwitz, most of the remaining ones went to another camp, Sobibor.
Generally the journey would last two and a half days, as the trains passed through Germany into Poland. Germans in their newspapers would read that Dutch Christians had taken to "attacking" Dutch Jews. In desperation, the Jews had thrown themselves at the mercy of German authorities, who were willing to provide them a "place of refuge" in Poland. In "gratitude" the Dutch Jews were giving all their possessions to the German people whom they knew were having a "rough time of it" with the Allied bombings.
The trains usually arrived in Auschwitz between midnight and early morning. Once there, the Jews found themselves being separated, the men from the women. Certain decisions were made, and by daylight most of the new arrived were dead. The children. The elderly. The women who looked too frail. Those spared would be subjected to hard work or certain unusual medical experiments; few would survive more than a month. Such was "labour service" in Germany.
Sobibor differed from Auschwitz only in that virtually all Jews going there were murdered immediately outright.
The Germans deported 110,000 Jews out of Holland. Only some 5000 people survived to return. All in all, 35,000 Jews in Holland survived the War. 105,000 did not, or in other words, 70% of all Jews in Holland were lost in the Holocaust. This percentage represents the single biggest loss of Jews in any Nazi occupied country in Western Europe. To quote Holocaust Historian, Raul Hilberg, "Holland was the only country where the Jews never had a chance." Jewish life which was once so vital in Holland has yet to fully recover after 50 years now and probably never really will. Ultimately Hitler lost his war against the Jews, but in Holland he did score a victory.
source: Anderson, Anthony E. (1995). Anne Frank was not alone: Holland and the Holocaust
Edited by VAT69, 30 June 2003 - 03:26 PM.
Posted 30 June 2003 - 03:28 PM
Thank you for the outstanding report. Keep up the good work !
Hope all is well with rest of family, give them my best !
Posted 04 July 2003 - 05:03 PM
Line by line, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph ... this is such devastating material to read. And one cannot turn from it.
As regards the answer to that overview question: why were 75% of the Dutch Jews lost? -- It would seem there were many elements involved. The issue of the topography and borders of Holland certainly created a trap for any who may have been free to act independently of family, etc. Still, I wonder if some didn't somehow slip through to suface as some other identity on some other continent. I certainly hope so.
In the main, though, I have always thought the Germans were cleverly evil in their use of psychology, incrementally dispensed. And not even subtle. It came at a rapid pace designed to keep their victims reeling -- out of communication and disjointed from any group sensibility which may have at least identified the goal.
Still, 60 years later, it is so difficult to imagine the day to day existence of a haunted people and the horror of what overtook them. This is the point at which I fervently hope that in any afterlife one believes is so, there are no emotional memories. For if there are, surely there are endless screams and sobs of millions upon millions whose humanity was not enough to save them from the tyranny of evil.
The further horror is that Holland in '43 is not unique. BK
Posted 04 July 2003 - 10:21 PM
As a result, I'm learning some things I'd prefer not to know. But we all SHOULD know this. Thank you, Doug
Posted 04 July 2003 - 11:04 PM
He just responded. While your post is not news in a general sense, it is in many details, and it is "stunning" and most affecting.
Thank you, Doug
Posted 05 July 2003 - 04:30 PM
Thank you for your responses.
I had no fun posting this piece, but I think I should indeed. However, I must mention that all you've read so far has the piece by Anthony Andersen as main piece, edited by me.
I'm actually beginning. This was the start of my personal search for answers, I'm still studying the subject and history and will continue posting here as soon as I have found new facts and insights. We should all know this, but I really want to know.
Posted 10 July 2003 - 09:57 AM
I have only just become a Premiere member, so i have just been able to read your posts. It does sadden the heart that these Atrocities happened, Sad as they are, i am glad you have shared them.
The small number you mention not registering, do you know anything about these people, if they made it through the War staying in Holland, for example.
Posted 14 July 2003 - 05:39 PM
No I don't know. There are several examples of stories of survivors who were hidden under, but it's rather difficult to determine whom of those that did not register, were amongst them, apart from the fact whether it had any influence. It happened though that Jewish people could make use of false identity papers, using a common Dutch name like "De Vries" or "Jansen". By that they had some chance of living a "regular" life in an occupied country, and surviving.
Edited by VAT69, 14 July 2003 - 05:44 PM.
Posted 19 October 2003 - 05:35 PM
Daphne and I married on October 5th, 2001. During the night we had a great party for family and friends in the former city town hall, now a theatre in our residence, Zaandam.
Later that night, one of Daffie's older uncle's told me he had once watched a defilé of Canadian militaries from the stairways of this very building on May 6th, 1945. It was a defilé in honour of those who had been hiding under in Zaandam during WWII (he was one of them)...assembled now on those stairs. He told me he had survived five years of occupation, and the inevitable sending to one of the camps, by hiding under with a family living not far from this very building.
Attending our marriage festivities was the first time for him to visit this building again since May, 1945.
You can imagine that was quite emotional for him. But I'm very grateful he shared this story with me on our wedding night.
Edited by VAT69, 19 October 2003 - 05:41 PM.
Posted 19 October 2003 - 07:12 PM
Point of clarification: is a "defile'" like an honor guard? Soldiers lined up in salute?
Thanks, y.o.s., Doug
Posted 19 October 2003 - 07:20 PM
I can not even imagine what it must have been like for people to go into hiding during the war. It is inconceivable. It's good to be reminded of these things. Makes me appreciate my life more. What have I got to complain about. Thanks Mark for sharing that......
Posted 20 October 2003 - 03:39 PM
A defilé is when soldiers walk by, saluting in honour to those watching them.
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