A Reassessment of the Dutch Record during the Holocaust

  • Suzanne D. Rutland
Chapter

Abstract

The story of an organized Jewish community in the Netherlands spans three and a half centuries. From their arrival, Jews in the Netherlands enjoyed tolerance and security and the community flourished, attracting further Jewish immigration. As with other parts of Europe, the Dutch Jewish community was virtually decimated by the Holocaust. At the outbreak of World War II there were 140,000 Jews in Holland of whom only approximately 30,000 survived. Today the Dutch Jewish community numbers about 30,000. This paper will seek to reassess the record of the Dutch people during the Holocaust, analysing why such a high proportion died during the Holocaust and why, despite having the worst record of any Western country, Holland has for such a long period of time maintained such a positive image. It will do so by investigating six central questions: What were the origins of Dutch Jewry? How were the Jews marginalized in Dutch society from 1940 to 1941 ? How was the destruction process implemented? What percentage of Jews survived compared with other Western countries? Why did such a high proportion die and why is the Dutch record in regard to the saving of Jews seen in such a positive light?

Keywords

Europe Transportation Assure Stein Boulder 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Jozeph Michman, consultant on Dutch Jewry for Yad Vaskem, the Memorial to Holocaust survivors in Jerusalem, who kindly read my manuscript for my Preface for Opposite the Lion’s Den, relating to Dutch Jewry during the Nazi era and Professor Yehuda Bauer, Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry. See Daniel Johannes Huygens, Opposite the Lion’s Den: a story of hiding Dutch Jews (Sydney: Brandi and Schlesinger, 1996). I would also like to thank Professor Konrad Kwiet, an expert on Dutch Jewry during the Holocaust, for his comments and assistance with the most recent literature on the topic published in English.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For a detailed discussion of Dutch Jewry’s history see Mozes Heiman Gans, Memorbook: History of Dutch from the Renaissance to 1940 (Baarn: Bosch & Keuning n.v., 1977).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Miriam Bodian, Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation: conversos and community in early modern Amsterdam (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Nora Levin, The Destruction of European Jewry, 1933–1945, (New York: Schocken Books, 1975), p.404.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    For the reason for Asscher and Cohen becoming key leaders of the Jewish Council see Dan Michman, ‘Preparing for occupation? A Nazi Sicherheitsdienst document of Spring 1939 on the Jews of Holland’, Studio, Rosenthaliana, 32/2 (1998): 173–189.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Jozeph Michman, ‘The Netherlands’, in I Gutman (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, vol.3 (New York: Macmillan, 1990), p. 1054.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    By the end of 1941 with the start of the ‘final solution’ there were only 60,000 Jews left in Belgium, of whom 25,000 found shelter. According to Dan Michman, 44 percent of the remaining 60,000 perished and 40 percent found shelter. See Dan Michman (ed.) Belgium and the Holocaust: Jews, Belgians, Germans (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1998).Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    For a comparative discussion see work by J.C.H. Blom who has tried to analyse the reasons for the varying degrees of success of Nazi persecution in the Western countries. J.C.H. Blom ‘The persecution of the Jews in the Netherlands: a comparative West European Perspective’, European History Quarterly 19 (1989): 335–351 and ‘The Persecution of the Jews in the Netherlands in a Comparative International Perspective’ inCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. J. Michman (ed.), Dutch Jewish History 2 (Jerusalem: Institute for Research on Dutch Jewry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1989).Google Scholar
  10. 16.
    R. Hilberg, The Destruction of European Jews (London, 1961) p.365, as quoted in Dan Michman, ‘The Place of the Holocaust of Dutch Jewry in Larger Historical Fabric: Approaches of Dutch and other Historians’, unpublished manuscript 1999, p.10.Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    Guus Meershoek, ‘The Amsterdam Police and the Persecution of the Jews’, in Michael Berenbaum and Abraham J. Peck (eds.), The Holocaust and History: The Known, the Unknown, the Disputed and the Reexamined (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1998), p.284.Google Scholar
  12. 21.
    G. Jan Colijn and Marcia S. Littell, ‘Introduction’, The Netherlands and Nazi Genocide: Papers of the 21st Annual Scholars’ Conference, Symposium Series vol.32 (Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Meilen Press, 1992), p.iii.Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    Manfred Gerstenfeld, ‘Wartime and postwar Dutch attitudes toward the Jews: Myth and truth’, Jerusalem Letter/ Viewpoints, no.412 (Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, 15 August 1999), p.4.Google Scholar
  14. 28.
    For a general history of Dutch collaboration see Gerhard Hirschfeld, Nazi Rule and Dutch Collaboration: the Netherlands under German Occupation, 1940–1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988).Google Scholar
  15. 29.
    Bob Moore, Victims and Survivors: The Nazi Persecution of Jews in the Netherlands, 1940–1944 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 194–206.Google Scholar
  16. 31.
    For one of the latest editions, see Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl ed. M. Pressler, tr. S. Massotty (New York: Doubleday, 1996) In his article ‘Wartime and postwar Dutch attitudes’, p.3, Gerstenfed describes the Anne Frank story as ‘feeding the myth’.Google Scholar
  17. 37.
    For a discussion of the historiography, see Hermann v.d. Dunk, ‘Jews and the rescue of the Jews in the Netherlands in Historical Writings’ in Yisrael Gutman and Gideon Grief (eds.), The Historiography of the Holocaust Period (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1988).Google Scholar
  18. 39.
    Jacob Presser, Ashes in the Winds: the destruction of Dutch Jewry, tr. Arnold Pomerans (London: Souvenir Press, 1965).Google Scholar
  19. 43.
    L. Yahil, The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, 1932–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  20. 44.
    H. Fein, Accounting for Genocide: Victims — and Survivors — of the Holocaust, (New York and London: Free Press, 1979).Google Scholar
  21. 45.
    H.L. Mason, ‘Testing Human Bonds Within Nations: Jews in the Occupied Netherlands’, Political Science Quarterly, vol.99, part 2 (Summer 1984): 315–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 46.
    M.R. Marrus and R.O. Paxton, ‘The Nazis and the Jews in occupied Western Europe 1940–1944’, Journal of Modern History, vol.54, (1982), 687–714. This article analyses the death toll in terms of the three phases: 1940–1; 1941–2; and 1942–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 51.
    Jan. H. Brinks, ‘The Dutch, the Germans and the Jews’, History Today, 49/6 (1999): 17–21.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suzanne D. Rutland

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations