Holocaust In The Netherlands Persecution of Jews in Holland
Posted 17 April 2003 - 03:56 PM
In 1933 approximately 450,000 Jews lived in Germany. Following the period in which Hitler first took power some 50,000 Jews left Germany. Among those who fled that first year was Otto Frank who moved from Frankfurt to Amsterdam. Many people within the German Jewish community felt that Frank and other such people were over-reacting, that the Nazis' anti-Semitic bark was far worse than its bite. It might be a bit unpleasant for a while, but eventually cool heads would prevail and things would work out better. Not to panic--maybe to worry a bit, but definitely not to panic. Yes, they might go to a synagogue to pray to God, but as far as being German, they were just as German as anyone else. That's what they thought, that's what they believed....But what German Jews thought and what the Nazis thought, was something completely different. Some years would have to pass, and many decrees would have to be enacted, but certainly by the time of Kristallnacht, in 1938, the vast majority of German Jews became aware there was no place for them in the Third Reich. Getting out of Germany now became the uppermost desire of many German Jews. By 1938 some 150,000 Jews had left Germany, which meant there were still 300,000 left.
Leaving Germany became with each passing year even more difficult. The Nazis themselves had become ever more disposed to letting the Jews immigrate, but the problem was that there were not many countries which were willing to accept these Jewish refugees. The world was very much still gripped in the Depression. Jobs were scarce everywhere. Many governments feared that admitting Jews, any Jews, would worsen the unemployment situation in their respective countries.
German authorities rarely let Jews leave Germany with little more than a few Reichmarks in their pockets. That German Jews would be arriving in their new homelands virtually destitute made them all the less desirable. And then were some countries who simply would not accept Jewish refugees simply because they were what they were: Jews. Up through 1936 the British had been willing to let Jewish refugees to settle within Palestine. Palestine was at that time under British control. Faced with ever mounting hostility from Palestinian Arabs, Great Britain closed Palestine to Jewish refugees in 1937.
Throughout the rest of the rest of the world more and more countries were putting up barriers against Jewish refugees. The situation was becoming ever acute. In March 1938, Germany took over Austria, a country whose capital Vienna contained 180,000 Jewish citizens. Within the Third Reich there were now almost 500,000 Jews--500,000 potential refugees. Where would they go? Which countries would admit them?
The situation was becoming fast a major crisis, and American President Franklin Roosevelt proposed an international conference to deal with this problem of German refugees. The congress took place in May, 1938 in Evian-les-Bains, France. Among the participants were the United States, Canada, Australia, many western European countries, plus several Latin American nations. Not attending the conference, however, were any representatives from either Germany or any Jewish organization. The plight of the German Jews was much discussed at the Evian Conference, but when it was all over--nothing much had been accomplished. No international consensus had been achieved as to what could be done to help the German Jews. A few countries (most notably Denmark and Holland) would allow in some more Jews, but most nations (including the United States, France and Australia) categorically refused to increase the numbers of German refugees which they would permit within their borders. No country--or it so seemed--wanted the German Jews. As for the Nazis, they would have to devise other means with which to deal with their so-called Jewish problem. In 1940 some Nazis concocted a plan in which all European Jews would be exiled to Madagascar, the French held island lying off the east coast of Africa. Ultimately the Nazis would drop this Madagascar scheme and in its place they would devise an infinitely more sinister plan with which to deal with the Jews.
source: Anderson, Anthony E. (1995). Anne Frank was not alone: Holland and the Holocaust
This post has been edited by VAT69: 17 April 2003 - 04:56 PM
Posted 18 April 2003 - 05:01 PM
Holland was one of the few countries at the Evian Conference which agreed to take in more German refugees. Holland has a long standing tradition of being open to refugees and victims of persecution. French Huguenots had found refuge in 17th century Holland. The Puritans before going to Massachusetts first went to Holland, where they settled for a while in the city of Leiden. Jews from Spain began arriving in Amsterdam in the years following their mass expulsion in 1492. They found Amsterdam an agreeable place, a city where they could make a decent living and could practice their religion with relatively few restrictions. Certainly the entrepreneurial skills of these Sephardic Jews were to play a role in Amsterdam's becoming the economic capital of the world, a status that the city would attain in its Golden Age--the mid 17th century. In the ensuing years other Jews from other parts of Europe would make their way to Amsterdam and other Dutch cities. Here in Holland there was freedom of religion, pogroms were unknown, and Amsterdam had become one of Europe's great centers of Judaic scholarship. Jews in Holland, however, did not achieve full civic rights until after shortly after 1800, during the time of Napoleonic occupation. After that time Jews in Holland could become full members of the trade guilds and could (and would) fully participate in the country's political life.
By 1930 the Jews of Holland constituted about slightly 1% of the Dutch population. Anti-Semitism was by no means unknown in Dutch society, but it can safely be stated that in pre-war Holland Jews enjoyed an acceptance and tolerance matched by few other countries within the world.
Posted 18 April 2003 - 05:06 PM
As mentioned, when Hitler and the Nazis took power in January 1933, people began to flee Germany. Those who fled--and would flee--included Communists, various political dissidents, and above all, Jews. Some sought refugee in France, some in England, some in America, virtually any place that would take them. By the time World War II broke out (September, 1939), some 300,000 refugees had left Nazi Germany. Of that figure, 10% of them (or, in other words, 30,000) refugees--mostly Jews--had come to Holland. One of the first of these refugees was Otto Frank. Within a short time, he would bring his wife and his two young daughters, Margot and Anne to Amsterdam.
Holland was attractive to German Jews for a number of reasons: the country shared a common border with Germany. During World War I Holland had been neutral (and, hence there was little in the way of bitterness to Germans in the way there was among, say, the French and Belgians.) Holland had a long tradition of toleration and granting asylum to oppressed peoples. Holland and Germany had always enjoyed close ties---linguistically, with business, and with families.
The Dutch government itself was not too kindly disposed to these refugees. The Depression had been relatively late in hitting Holland, but when it did hit, it hit hard. Thousands of Dutch companies went bankrupt and thousands of Dutch workers found themselves unemployed. With so many of their own people without work, the Dutch government had little enthusiasm for admitting refugees, who would compete for the few jobs that there were. Here the official Dutch attitude was really no different than the British, the French, or for that matter, the American one. Dutch officialdom was also uncomfortable with German refugees for another reason. During World War I, as it has been noted, Holland managed to remain neutral. Should another world war break out, Holland was anxious to stay neutral again. To preserve that neutrality Holland wanted to do nothing that might offend any of the potential belligerents, one of which would most certainly be Germany. Some felt that Hitler would be much offended if Holland came to be perceived as the number one haven for German refugees.
In 1933 the Dutch had one of the world's most liberal refugee laws. But fearing that Holland might find itself overrun by German Jewish refugees, the Dutch government took steps to steadily restrict the amount of refugees admitted. Rules were tightened and the borders much more closely monitored. Nevertheless, ever more desperate German Jews were managing to get themselves into Holland, and it threatened to turn into a torrent following the horrible events of Kristallnacht. Feeling it had no other choice, and coming less than one month later, the government closed the Dutch borders to all German refugees. This was December 1938. Henceforth, any German refugee (Jewish or otherwise) who managed to enter Holland would be considered an "undesirable alien."
Such "undesirable aliens" would not automatically be deported to Germany but they would be detained in special work camps. The Dutch government had taken to constructing a major one in a remote part section of eastern Holland. The name of this work camp was Westerbork. The Dutch government paid for the building of Westerbork but they had made an arrangement with the country's Jewish community whereby they would repay the government for the camp's construction. Beginning already in 1933 a Jewish organization had been formed in Amsterdam to help with the plight of German refugees. This organization was the leadership of two men, David Cohen (a university professor) and Abraham Asscher, a wealthy diamond merchant. Both the men, Cohen and Asscher, would later play very important crucial roles during the time of the German occupation. But going back to the 1930's, their relief organization provided housing and financial aid to Jewish refugees from Germany, many of whom arrived penniless. By 1936 the Dutch government virtually prohibited all new German refugees from legally working in the country. Otto Frank had come to Amsterdam in 1933, one of the first of the German Jews to flee to Holland, and had no difficulty (legal or otherwise) in setting up a jam company in Holland. Had Otto Frank waited and tried settling in Holland fiver years later, he would have faced a much more difficult time. Although the motives of the Jewish relief organization was largely humanitarian, there was also a certain element of self-interest involved. It was feared by certain members of the Dutch Jewish community that the sight of German Jewish beggars in the streets of Amsterdam might alienate the Gentile community, something to be avoided at all costs.
As mentioned, Holland closed its borders to all refugees in 1938. It should be stressed that virtually every country in Europe already had done the exact same thing. Between now and the outbreak of war (which would come less than a year later), Holland would permit some 7000 more German Jewish refugees to enter Holland. Many of these were children and most of the rest were family members of people who had already been allowed to enter the country. In such a way, Sarah Holländer was permitted to come and live with her daughter Edith Frank, who was living in Amsterdam with her husband and daughters, Margot and Anne. Some 300,000 Jews still remained in greater Germany, which by now included not only Austria but a recently annexed Czechoslovakia.
Many of the Jews who came to Holland did not necessarily want to wish to settle there permanently. Many came to the country to use it as a transit spot, a place where they could wait until such time they would be permitted to immigrate to a third country. Many hoped to go to the United States, but the United States had long waiting lists of people wanting to be admitted. In some cases it was a matter of waiting as much as four years or more before the Americans would let them enter. But waiting first in Holland was not such a bad thing; there might not be much money, but life there was by no means unpleasant.
This post has been edited by VAT69: 18 April 2003 - 06:28 PM
Posted 21 April 2003 - 04:05 PM
In September, 1939 Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. As mentioned earlier, Holland had remained neutral in World War I and among the Dutch they wanted nothing more than for Holland to remain neutral again in this new war. Most Dutch people were convinced that Holland would remain out of the War; this conviction was bolstered by the fact that Hitler had repeatedly given reassurances to the Dutch government that he would absolutely honour Dutch neutrality. What a shock it was for the Dutch people when on May 10th, 1940 Germany suddenly invaded the country. For five days the Dutch fought hard and bravely, but it was no contest between them and the superior might of the German war machine. On the fifth day the Germans bombed the city of Rotterdam, causing an appalling loss of life and property. With the German threat to bomb more Dutch cities, the Dutch felt they could continue the battle no longer and on the next day, they surrendered to the Germans. Holland had capitulated.
The Dutch people were stunned, but most stunned (and most terrified) were the Jews. Merely a week before people were convinced (the Jews including) that Holland would get through the War neutral. For the Jews there could be few places safer, but now after the capitulation, few places in Europe would be more dangerous than Holland. Even before Holland had formally surrendered several Jews tried escaping to England by means of boats; so clogged were the Dutch roads that few people could make it to the harbours. Those who did manage to make it to the harbours discovered the situation so chaotic that few found a boat which could take them to England and safety. People who tried to flee by way of the south, to Belgium, didn’t have much more luck. Most people just ended up having to go back home. Some Jews, perhaps as many as 300 in numbers, killed themselves in that first week following the capitulation.
Within a week after the capitulation Hitler put a fellow Austrian, Arthur Seyss-Inquart in charge of ruling occupied Holland. In some countries which the Germans occupied, such as Denmark and Belgium, the German Army took control of administrating the country with the local civilian authorities allowed more or less to run matters as they so had been doing. This was not the case with Holland. Hitler imposed a civilian administration on the country, being run as if it were an incorporated province of the Third Reich. Consequently, the Germans were much more involved in the day to day administration of Holland than in the other western European countries. It was the eventual plan of the Germans that once the War was over (and they, of course, had won), they would annex Holland as a formal part of Greater Germany. Of course, this was something which was never publicly expressed to the Dutch people.
Within a week of taking over Holland, Arthur Seyss-Inquart made an address to the Dutch people. In his address Seyss-Inquart said that the Germans would not impose their ideology (that is, the Nazi ideology) upon Holland; furthermore, he would respect existing Dutch laws. Many Dutch people were heartened by Seyss-Inquart's remarks; possibly life under a German occupation might not be so intolerable. Jews in Holland were also heartened by the Reich Commissioner's speech. If the Germans were not going to impose their Nazi ideology on Holland, then that would also mean that they would not impose the anti-Semitism. Also encouraging was Seyss-Inquart's comments about respecting Dutch law. Under Dutch law, as spelled out in the country's constitution, equal rights were accorded to all, irrespective of creed. For the Jews it was possible that for them life under them might not be too unbearable. For Jews who fled from Germany and experienced first-hand what the Nazis were capable of doing, they had less optimism than Dutch Jews. Still, other signs indicated that there might be at least limited grounds for optimism. A German general told prominent members of the Amsterdam Jewish community that as far as the Germans were concerned, Holland had no Jewish problem. When the Germans invaded Austria and Poland, some terrible things had happened to the Jews. In Vienna Jews were humiliated in a most sickening matter, forced to get down on their hands and knees and scrub the streets. Worse things were said to have happened in Warsaw, with synagogues being burned down and Jews being herded into ghettos. German censorship had been rather tight, and the details reaching Amsterdam were sketchy, but it was definitely clear that the Nazis were making life miserable for the Jews in the countries which they had conquered. But in Amsterdam in June 1940, the German troops were on their best behaviour.
Yes, it was possible for the Jews of Holland to imagine that they just might able to get through the German occupation well...
source: Anderson, Anthony E. (1995). Anne Frank was not alone: Holland and the Holocaust
This post has been edited by VAT69: 21 April 2003 - 04:07 PM
Posted 30 April 2003 - 04:18 PM
In picking Arthur Seyss-Inquart to rule over occupied Holland, Hitler had in Seyss-Inquart one of his most capable administrators. Seyss-Inquart was also a Nazi of the most fanatic, devoted sort---which is to say, very fanatic and very devoted indeed. In the next few weeks Seyss-Inquart would select four men to assist him in administering Holland. These four assistant commissioners were equally devoted to serving the Nazi cause and would virtually stop at nothing in implementing National Socialism within Holland. Seyss-Inquart and his four henchmen would prove to be among the most ruthless, the most "efficient" administrators in all of Nazi occupied Europe.
As mentioned, Germany's eventual plan for Holland was to annex the country and make it a part of Germany. This was not the plan for France, or Belgium, or Denmark, or many of the other countries which Germany had occupied. But to make Holland an integral part of Germany was something which the Germans were very much committed to doing---at least, once the war was over and Germany had won. Holland had many attractions to the Germans, but chief among them was the "superior" racial quality of the Dutch people, certifiably 100% Aryan. To the Nazis whose ideology was so obsessed with the so-called superiority of the Germanic people, the Dutch people and their Dutch genes were a rich booty. There was but one fly in the ointment. Of the 9,000,000 people living in Holland some 140,000 of them were Jewish, about 1.5% of the total population. If Holland was eventually to become a part of Germany then tackling Holland's Jewish "problem" would have to take particular priority for Seyss-Inquart and his cohorts. Dealing with the Jewish "problem" was a Nazi obsession which would be pursued in all of occupied Europe, but nowhere in western occupied Europe would it be more vigorously pursued than in Holland.
Once fully installed in power Arthur Seyss-Inquart began issuing decrees. Over the next five years he would issue hundreds of decrees as he set turning Holland into a Nazi police state. Many of Seyss-Inquart's decrees would affect Jews. When the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938 they immediately imposed German law there, which of course included all the existing anti-Jewish regulations. German Jews had had five years in which to accustom themselves to such laws, but in one fell swoop the Jews of Austria found themselves confronted with them. It was, to say the least, a terrible shock. Now in the summer of 1940 the Nazis began to impose anti-Jewish measures in Holland; they would be introduced at a far slower pace than had been the case in Austria, but ultimately the end result, the "final solution" would be the same.
The first anti-Jewish measure came on July 2nd, 1940. Jews were forbidden to serve as volunteer air-raid wardens. Since few Jews were wardens this particular measure stirred little attention. One month later the Germans forbid the practice of ritual slaughter, something which had much more impact on the Jewish community, especially those who practiced Jewish dietary laws. This law was not especially directed at Jews, or so it might seem. As an overall package of animal protection laws, the measure decreed that warm-blooded animals must be first stunned before slaughtering. On August 20th, 1940 Seyss-Inquart issued a decree saying that he had the authority to dismiss Dutch civil servants at will. Nothing was specifically stated about Jews. That would come later, but not much later.
The next set of laws affected German Jews in Holland. They were ordered to leave the Hague and all coastal sections. Furthermore, German Jews were required to register themselves to the Aliens' Department.
In September, 1940 it was decreed that no new Jews could be admitted into the Dutch civil service. Jews already in the civil service could no longer be promoted. In a memo that would be issued shortly thereafter Jews would be defined as anyone who had at least one Jewish grandparent. One month later all 200,000 Dutch civil servants were required to sign an Aryan attestation form; if you were an Aryan you filled out Form A, if you were not you filled out Form B. The signing of such forms began on October 18th, 1940 and all civil servants were required to complete the forms within a week. Not everyone was necessarily uncomfortable with signing such forms; the matter of religion had long been a component of the Dutch census form. Filling out this new form did not seem so much different, and many people--both Jewish and Gentile--did fill it out. But some people would not sign the form. A certain Professor Scholten prepared a petition which he persuaded many of his colleagues (but not all) to sign; in the petition it was stated that there was no Jewish problem in Holland and it was not a matter of importance at a Dutch university whether a scholar was Jewish or not. On Sunday, October 27th several Dutch Protestant clergymen read from their pulpits a prepared statement which proclaimed that the Aryan attestation was "in direct conflict with Christian charity." Some, but not many, civil servants did resign their post rather than sign the form. None of the protests deterred Seyss-Inquart one single bit.
The next step, the inevitable one, the dismissal of all Jewish civil servants which came by the end of November, 1940. When Holland had capitulated in May, Queen Wilhelmina and senior members of the ruling Dutch government fled to London where they organized a government-in-exile. Left behind to run the country, as it were, were the Secretaries-General; these were the senior civil Dutch servants who were in charge of the country's various government departments. In 1937 a vague directive had been issued by the Dutch government about what the Secretaries-General were to do if Holland was to be invaded. Should that happen, the Secretaries-General were to continue doing their jobs so long as what they were doing benefited the Dutch people. Should the Secretaries-General be obliged to serve the interests of the occupying country, then they were to resign their posts. Now in 1940 when the occupation was a reality it was not so easy for the Secretaries-General to decide just what was helping the Dutch people and what was helping the German occupiers. When Seyss-Inquart took over in May he immediately abolished the Dutch Parliament and all trappings of the Dutch democracy. He did see, however, a certain advantage in retaining the services of the Secretaries-General. By having the Secretaries-General to be the ones to issue and sign many of Seyss-Inquart's decrees they would confer a certain legitimacy on the decrees and perhaps make them more palatable to the Dutch people. The Secretaries-General saw the trap they were in, but by remaining in their posts they felt they were in a position to perhaps mitigate the worst excesses of the Nazi rulers. In doing so, however, the Secretaries-Generals may have unwitting crossed the line and become German tools.
In November, 1940 Seyss-Inquart demanded that the Secretaries-General would issue a decree dismissing all Jews in the Dutch civil service. Among the Secretaries-General there was little enthusiasm for such an action, but there was also the thinking among them that if the Germans were now the rulers of Holland then them, the Secretaries-Generals had the obligation to essentially do as the Nazis wanted. In 1940 they could not have guessed the full evil of which the Nazis would be capable.
In November, 1940 all 2500 Jews were dismissed from the Dutch Civil Service. Initially it was announced that the Jews were being placed on temporary furlough (and that they would continue to receive their full salaries), but none of these Jews were ever to get their jobs back--at least, not while the Germans were in control of Holland. Among those who lost their jobs was the Chief Justice of the Dutch Supreme Court, Lodewijk Visser, and 41 university professors. The dismissal of Jewish professors caused no small consternation at Dutch universities. In Delft some of the students went on a protest strike and at the University of Leiden Professor Cleveringa made a speech where he declared that what the Nazis were doing was a violation of international law. Copies of his speech were mimeographed and spread all over Holland, causing no small sensation. Cleveringa himself was arrested the next day and would spend the next eight months in jail.
Seyss-Inquart issued one last major decree in 1940. What it entailed was that all Jewish businesses were to be registered. A Jewish business was designated as, among other things, any business where at least one owner or one director was Jewish. Failure not to register such business would be met with heavy fines and all forms were to be filled out in quadruplicate.
This post has been edited by VAT69: 30 April 2003 - 04:20 PM
Posted 07 May 2003 - 05:14 PM
In the second week of January, 1941 the Germans issued their most sweeping decree yet. On January 10th, 1941, all Jews were ordered to officially to register themselves. It did not matter if one was religious or not, the governing factor was whether or not you had at least one grandparent who was Jewish. All Jews had to register at their local census office within four weeks (except for the Jews of Amsterdam who were given 10 weeks.) Forms had to be filled in full, each person having to provide a full personal history. Registration required the payment of one Dutch guilder, half of which would be reimbursed to the Dutch census offices for their assistance in undertaking this special count. To not register would be punished by being put up to five years in prison and/or having one's property confiscated. Very few Jews in Holland, maybe no more than 50, did not register. Nowadays it seems almost impossible to believe that so many people compiled in having themselves registered. Certainly some warning bells should have gone off in some peoples' minds. But the Jews in Holland were conditioned to the Dutch culture, a culture which regulated a lot and one which had people often filling out lots of cards and lots of forms.
At the end of the count some 160,000 people had registered. 140,000 full Jews, 15,000 half-Jews, and some 5,000 quarter Jews. With all the information now gathered and with the assistance of the ever efficient Dutch bureaucracy, the Germans now proceeded to start making detailed maps of Dutch cities. Here Jews could be pinpointed by street, age, sex, and possible relationship to gentile in marriage.
About the same time the Germans began requiring every adult in Holland to carry at all times a state produced ID form. With out an ID card you could not get your ration coupons, and without coupons you could not buy your food. It was that simple. After the Nazis took their count of the Jews in Holland they decreed that Jews would have a J placed in their ID cards.
This post has been edited by VAT69: 07 May 2003 - 05:15 PM
Posted 07 May 2003 - 05:18 PM
The Dutch Nazi party, the NSB had been founded in the early 1930's, had found some followers, but never played any kind of serious role in Dutch politics. Once after the Germans taken over, the NSB was the only legal political party in Holland. When the NSB was first founded anti-Semitism had not been one of its major tenets; some Dutch Jews had actually joined its ranks. But in the late 1930's and the Germans were becoming ever more powerful, Hitler put increasingly more pressure on the NSB to embrace anti-Semitism. This the organization did and by 1942 the Dutch Nazi party was just as anti-Semitic as its German counterpart. Beginning in 1941 NSB members began going into shops and cafes and forcing their owners to put up signs reading: Joden Niet Gewenst (Jews Not Wanted.)
More provocatively still, some Dutch Nazis took to going into the Amsterdam's Jewish district. Here they would look for Jews to beat up or otherwise hassle. In self-defense several young Jewish men took to forming self-defense brigades. It was inevitable that sooner or later, a major clash would happen between the two groups.
When it finally did, a Dutch Nazi got killed. And then shortly thereafter some German poilcemen fell victim to an attack in a Jewish owned ice cream parlor. In response to these two events, the German authorities sent police into Amsterdam's Jewish District. Over the next two days they arrested some 425 young men selected at random. During this same period the Germans also had formed a Jewish Council, something they had established in many of their occupied countries. To head this council they secured the services of the two men who had long been involved in the German refugee relief agency, David Cohen and Abraham Asscher.
In response to the Germans and the measures they were taking against the Jews, the underground Communist Party decided to call a sympathy strike in support of the Jews. This has come to be known as the February Strike. It lasted two days, beginning first in Amsterdam and then spreading to several other cities in Holland. Hundreds of thousands workers were involved. It marks the only time in Nazi Occupied Europe where people publicly protested against the Nazis' anti-Jewish policies. The strike was ended with great brutality on the part of the Nazis. The strike absolutely failed to change their policy, and so it must be considered a failure, albeit a most noble one. It may be that the strike's failure convinced many Amsterdammers that any further resistance to their occupiers was useless, and that may have been the strike's saddest consequence.
As for the 425 arrested Jewish men, they were nearly all sent to Mauthausen, a concentration camp in Austria. Within three months all men were dead, through a combination of miserable living conditions, torture, and back-breaking work. As was then the German standard practice, each family of the dead man was sent a telegram informing of the death. Usually a fabricated reason was stated for cause of death. In any case, as more and more such telegrams arrived in Amsterdam, panic broke out in the Jewish community. For the Jews the very name of Mauthausen would become--and would remain--a synonym for death.
source: Anderson, Anthony E. (1995). Anne Frank was not alone: Holland and the Holocaust
This post has been edited by VAT69: 07 May 2003 - 05:20 PM
Posted 18 May 2003 - 04:16 PM
The Jewish Council (Joodse Raad) in the Netherlands, in existence from 1941 to 1943. The Joodse Raad first met on February 13, 1941, following riots by Dutch Nazis in Amsterdam. Its heads were Abraham Asscher and David Cohen, both men, like the other fifteen members were, well known public figures. Some Dutch Jewish leaders, like Lodewijk Ernst Visser were totally opposed to the policy of cooperation with the Nazis that was advocated by Asscher and Cohen.
The Joodse Raad rapidly became a strong, authoritative body. During the course of 1941, the range of the Joodse Raad's activities grew, as did the size of its staff. It published a Jewish weekly Het Joodse Weekblad (The Jewish Weekly). It founded and funded an umbrella organization to include all welfare agencies. When Jewish children were expelled from public schools in the summer of 1941, the entire Jewish school system was put into the hands of the Joodse Raad. The council also was responsible for the distribution of food and various types of certificates, like travel permits; and it took over an earlier formed finance committee of the Committee for Special Jewish Affairs, which collected an imposed tax on the Jews. On August 8, 1941, the Germans ordered that all Jews deposit their money in the Lippmann-Rosenthal bank, into which contributions were also deposited for the Joodse Raad. At the end of 1941, the German Reich Commissioner for the Occupied Netherlands, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, decided that the Amsterdam Joodse Raad would deal with the Jewish affairs of the entire country.
Meanwhile in the summer of 1941, steps towards the implementation of the "Final Solution" began to be taken in the Netherlands. The Joodse Raad was made to cooperate in the concentration of most of Dutch Jewry in Amsterdam and the supply of Jews to the labor camps which had been set up. The Joodse Raad agreed to select who would be sent to the camps, and this caused great resentment among the Jews. On May 3, 1942, the Jewish Badge was introduced, and the Joodse Raad actively participated in its distribution. The Joodse Raad was ordered to help facilitate the deportations from the Netherlands, and its card index was used for the location and seizure of Jews.
During the deportations, the Joodse Raad sought to keep up its educational and welfare functions. It also attempted to negotiate the release of Jews, and provided warm clothing for the deportees. In May 1943, the Joodse Raad was ordered to provide a list of 7,000 of its employees and their families - some 40 percent of the staff. It gave in, and a list of candidates for deportation was drawn up and special invitations over David Cohen's signature were sent out to the chosen Jews. Only about 10 percent of the candidates reported for deportation, signalling the end of the council's control over the Jewish community. As a result the Germans staged a major raid the next day, and a similar raid on June 20. The remnant of the Joodse Raad continued to function until September 29, 1943, when most of the remaining Jews, some 2,000, were taken to Westerbork. Asscher and Cohen were among those deported.
After the war, Cohen and Asscher were arrested and were to stand trial. The proceedings, however, never took place, partly because of evidence that came to light of the enormous role played by non-Jewish administrators in the crimes against the Jews. A Jewish "court of honor" did find Asscher and Cohen guilty of collaboration in 1947, and barred them from serving in any honorary post in a Jewish institution. In 1950 the Union of Ashkenazic Congregations overturned the ruling.
"Encyclopedia of the Holocaust"
©1990 Macmillan Publishing Company
New York, NY 10022
This post has been edited by VAT69: 18 May 2003 - 04:19 PM
Posted 28 May 2003 - 05:26 PM
During spring 1941 new anti-Jewish decrees continued to be issued. Some of the decrees would be petty, others would pose enormous hardship, but ultimately they would seek the same goal: to cut the Jews totally off from Gentile society.
In March 1941 Jews could no longer donate blood. The only one Jewish organization allowed by the Germans to now function was the one which the Germans themselves had created: the Jewish Council. In April, 1941 Jews were forbidden to enter hotels, restaurants, theatres, public meeting halls and movie theatres. After April 10th, 1941 Jews in Amsterdam could no longer move out the city to live anywhere else in Holland. Five days later the decree came that Jews had to turn in their radios within two weeks. The radios, moreover, had to be presented in good working order and the owners themselves had to pay for any repairs. After May 1st, 1941 Jews could not serve on the stock exchange. After this same date Jewish attorneys, doctors, pharmacists, and translators could only work for other Jews. On May 28th, 1941 there came a decree where all Jewish held farms (and there weren't many) had to be sold by September 1st, 1941 and had to be totally transferred to their new owners by November 1st, 1941. Three days later (May 31, 1941) Jews now found themselves barred from public pools or parks. Nor could they any longer go to the horse races.
During June and July, 1941 Arthur Seyss-Inquart must have been on vacation because hardly new decrees were issued during this one, save Decree 140/1941 which forbid Jews the ownership of pigeons. Far more troublesome to more people was Decree 148, which stipulated that Jews were now to begin handing over their bank deposits to the firm of Messers, Lipton, Rosenthal & Co., which would "administer" such moneys for the Jews. Six decrees later (i.e., number 154), Jews heard of the establishment of Der Niederländische Grundstücksverwaltung, (the Dutch Estate Management Organization), whose function would be to take over Jewish properties--or to authorize non-Jews to do so.
Up until this time Jewish children had largely been spared from the Nazis measures. This came to an end in August, 1941 when it was announced that with the new school year--Jewish children would no longer be permitted to attend "Aryan" schools. Instead, they would have to attend their own separate schools where they would receive instruction from their own Jewish teachers. The Jewish Council took up the responsibility of setting up these new schools. It was at this time that Anne Frank and her sister entered the Jewish Lyceum in Amsterdam. Some 7000 children would be affected.
In September 1941, Arthur Seyss-Inquart's Commissioner for Public Security, Hans Rauter began to enthusiastically enact several anti-Jewish decrees on his own. He issued something entitled "The Proclamation on the Movement of Jews." Jews now found themselves barred from entering concert halls or any sport facility. Nor would Jews would be allowed to visit public libraries or museums.
Decree 200 (issued 10/22/41 barred "Aryans" from working in Jewish households. This did not apply if the "Aryan" maid was over 50 years old and was employed in a household where either the husband or wife was not Jewish. Jews outside Amsterdam could not move to any other cities in Holland except for Amsterdam. On November 25th, 1941 all German Jews living outside of Germany (and this included those 30,000 living in Holland) were formally deprived of their German citizenship.
This post has been edited by VAT69: 28 May 2003 - 05:27 PM
Posted 11 June 2003 - 05:07 PM
In 1942 anti-Jewish measures increased in steady tempo as Seyss-Inquart and his associates prepared for early July. Over the next few months many of the Jews living in cities outside Amsterdam would be forced to come and live in that city. The Jewish Council had the responsibility of finding housing for these new arrived Jews in Amsterdam; the Jewish sections of the city resembled with each passing month.
The Germans stepped their Arynazation of Jewish businesses, the process whereby Jews were forced to sell their businesses to non-Jews. In some cases some Jews managed to transfer their businesses into the hands of sympathetic Dutchmen. This is what Otto Frank did when he was able to turn the ownership of his jam company into the hands of Henk Gies, the husband of his very loyal employee, Miep Gies.
Most of the new anti-Jewish regulations appeared in Het Joodsche Weekblad (The Jewish Weekly), the only Jewish newspaper now permitted by the Nazis to be published. The Jewish Council printed the paper. On March 20th, 1942 the Germans issued a decree whereby Jews could no longer ride in cars. Exceptions, however, would be granted to those Jews travelling in ambulances, Hearst’s, or working in the service of the German war effort. Also on March 20th, 1942 the Germans announced Jews could no longer move furniture outside of their homes unless they had expressed permission.
The forcing of Jews to sell their businesses and the prohibition of many others not to be able to practice their professions was causing great financial hardship for many Jewish families. Gradually most of them were sinking into poverty. The fathers in many households were without work. Beginning in 1942 many such unemployed men were being forced to go and perform labour in special work camps the Germans had established in Holland. In April, 1942 the Germans instituted Nuremberg laws within Holland. Gentiles and Jew could no longer marry and the act of sexual intercourse between the two "races" became a felony offence.
On April 29th, 1942 the Germans introduced what would be the most drastic of all their decrees to that time: Decree 13 --the Jews' mandatory wearing of the yellow star. Jews in Poland and Germany already had to wear such identification. In March, 1942 the Nazis decided that they would simultaneously introduce the Star in Holland, France, and Belgium. Beginning at this point Jews appearing in public would have to at all times wear a badge with the word Jood. (Jew); the badge had to be sewn over the left breast of outer clothing, about the size of a palm.
Jews found not wearing the Star would be subject to six months in jail, the paying of 1000 guilders in fines, or both. The Jewish Council was given 569,355 badges and told they had to be distributed within three days. The Jewish Council protested against the measure but to no avail. A circular was sent out to all Jewish households, informing them of the measure and where the stars could be purchased(!). They were to be sold at four Dutch cents each and would also entail turning in a clothing ration coupon. In further directives, Jews were told that children under six did not have to wear the badges. The badges had to be sewn on the clothes and absolutely could not be pinned. The wearing of the Star brought much consternation to both the Jewish and Gentile communities. Many gentiles did try to show their sympathy. The underground newspaper, De Vonk printed 300,000 paper stars with inscription, "Jews and Non-Jews are ones." 23 students at one school were sent for two weeks to Amersfoort concentration camp for wearing such stars. The wearing of the yellow star now made it ever so much easier to identify Jews once the roundups would begin.
Jews were ordered in May 1942 to hand over all jewellery and personal art collections. However they could keep their wedding rings, pocket watches and dental fillings. From the money which they had been ordered to deposit into special accounts, a family could now draw no more than 250 guilders a month.
On May 21st, 1942 Jews found that they would no longer be issued fishing permits. More professions were declared off limits to Jews including being pharmacists, accountants, and pawn brokers. Also on May 21st, 1942 the decree came out that Jews would have to turn in their bicycles. Only Jews working for the Jewish Council would be allowed to keep theirs.
Beginning in June 1942 Jews had to remain in their homes from 8 in the evening until 6 in the morning. Jews were, furthermore, prohibited, from visiting the homes of Gentiles. Jews could only shop in non-Jewish businesses from 3:00 to 5:00 (a time where nearly everything would have been sold out.) Jews could no longer make use of non-Jewish barbers and hairdressers. Also in June the Germans prohibited Jews from riding trains or any kind of public transportation---exceptions would only be made to people working for the Jewish Council or doing German war work. Finally, Jews were prohibited the use of public phones and shortly thereafter they had phone service at their homes disconnected.
source: Anderson, Anthony E. (1995). Anne Frank was not alone: Holland and the Holocaust
This post has been edited by VAT69: 11 June 2003 - 05:10 PM
Posted 12 June 2003 - 12:02 AM
The litany of strictures and rules and penalties imposed upon the Jews one after another, rapidly, so they would be kept reeling, is so devastating -- particularly from this vantage point of 60 years later. It's hard to appreciate how it must have been to to be a J ew living day-to-day with this very ominous but imprecise threat that was so obviously forming itself against the Jews of Holland (and all the newly conquered western European countries). It seems to me that is a proper definition of terror.
You have mentioned with great torment the appalling statistic -- the loss of 75% of the Nederland Jews during the Holocaust (the highest throughout Europe) -- trying still to understand how and why that was so. It is a despicable record, to be sure. I've often wondered if it was much more complicated than the fact that these were the first of western Europe's Jews to be "deported" and that early in the "final solution" plans for the Jews, it was not yet known exactly what "relocation to the east" really meant, in fact. Who could possibly imagine the true goal of all this planning, organization and commitment of resources? A normal rational mind does not. Once they were segregated and transported, the Nazis could do anything they wanted. And did.
Certainly the role of the Jewish Council must be examined. But there is an element of evil perversity that came out of the minds of Reinhard Heydrich and his staff which employed the use of Jewish Councils (through flattery, bribery, whatever) to control the Jewish communities and corral their citizens into the terrified but docile population which formed up to go off to their fates. Few if any at that point imagined that their own would so give them up to something unbearable. It happened time and again in Europe. It is very very hard to look at. I'm sure there are so many elements that comprise the entire answer. There is so much to know.
One needs only to look at the Mideast today to see the legacy of the Holocaust being played out very vividly. On their narrow strip of earth, Israelis live under seige at all times and are no longer naive about the desire by some to exterminate them. They give no quarter and why should they in the face of such a premise? And across from them, the heirs of the Nazis whose irrational hatred somehow justified the extermination of all Jews at all costs. These days the cost is the obscene self-immolation taught to the sons and daughters of an impoverished people who do not value their own children's lives, much less their neighbor's.
Thanks, Mark for continuing this series focusing on this topic. It is fascinating to glimpse it in a slower chronological frame of reference. It's a lot of work -- nice job. BK