THE HOLOCAUST IN THE NETHERLANDS 5
The Holocaust is one of the defining moments of the twentiethcentury. The Nazi regime developed a unique kind of Jewish hatredthat targeted the Jews from all over Europe, leading to killing ofmore than six million people. The annihilation was propelled bygenocidal anti-Semitism, bureaucratic and professional cooperationwith the Nazi regime, as well as the popular apathy towards theimplementation of the Holocaust (Ten, Sherrill & Sherrill, 2006).After raising to power in Germany in 1933, the Nazi party establishedharsh anti-Semitic policies including killings, leading to massiveemigration. True to his threats that a world war would end with theannihilation of the Jews in Europe, Hitler pursued the Jews who hadfled into other countries in search for the “Final solution to theJewish question.” The regime collaborated or forced the officialsof the German-conquered states to advance the annihilation of Jews,resulting in the high mortality rate (Gerstenfeld, 2011). Thesekillings intensified shortly after the Wannsee Conference, with therate of survival of the Jews per country varying due to thecollaboration or lack thereof with the Nazis. However, the countrythat had the lowest survival rate was Netherlands, a factorattributed to the prominence of Nazi party in the Germanyanti-Semitic right-wing movement of Netherlands (Ten, Sherrill &Sherrill, 2006).
The Jews had moved and settled in Netherlands shortly after theoutbreak of the First World War owing to the neutrality of thecountry during the war. However, most of these did so illegally,making the regime of the day establish internment camps such as theone in the North-East Westerbork to contain the situation. After theoutbreak of WW2, Germany bombed Rotterdam and threatened to do thesame to Amsterdam, forcing the Dutch army to surrender. The Queenfled to Great Britain hence Hitler was able to establish a civiladministration in Netherlands under the command of SS. Theestablishment of the Nazi civil administration in Netherlands broughtwith it the harsh anti-Jewish policies, leading to massive killingsof Jews who represented 1.6% of the total population (about 140,000). The Nazis considered Holland a Germanic region hence came underthe direct leadership of the Hitler (Gerstenfeld, 2011).
In 1940, civil servants were ordered to declare whether their race,culminating to the firing of Jews civil servants. As the trendintensified, Jews in concentration camps such as Westerbork and thecamp of Vught were deported to Poland transit camps beginning thesummer of 1942 (Ten, Sherrill & Sherrill, 2006). By the end of1944, more than a hundred and seven thousand Jews had been deportedto transit camps of Sobibor and Auschwitz, from where most of themdied. No more than fifty-five thousand Jews from Holland taken totransit camps returned, and when Westerbork was liberated in 1945only 876 inmates were found alive. Jews that sought refuge amongChristian families were pursued and killed hence only about sixteenpercent of these remained. Thus, only twenty-seven percent of theJews that were living in the country at the beginning of the warsurvived (Gerstenfeld, 2011).
The majority of Jews who tried to free the country were caught andpunished, sometimes with death penalty owing to the strictanti-Jewish nature. In protest, the Jewish Community established theJewish Coordinating Committee but was counteracted with theestablishment of the Judenrat that aimed at enforcing the toughanti-Jews lawa and with the protesting Jews. There wereincreased confrontations between the police and the Jews such as thegeneral strike of February of 1941 but all were met with increasedbrutality and hardened anti-Jewish policies. Among these included theYellow Star policy, where the Jews were forced to wear a yellow starto identify them as Jews. After the end of the war, the freed Jewsfrom the concentration camps were met with increased resurgence andanti-Semitism, forcing them to relinquish their claim to theirmaterial wealth. There are even cases where the after waranti-Semitic resurgence in Holland led to the death of a few moreJews, adding to the already huge number of death during the HolocaustEra (Gerstenfeld, 2011).
From the above, Holland experienced the lowest Jews survivor rateduring the holocaust era, with more than seventy-three percent of theJews that lived in the country dying due to the brutality of Nazisanti-Jews policies. This is attributed to the collaboration of theDutch military, and the subsequent fleeing of the queen of Hollandallowed Hitler to establish a civil government in Holland. Thecountry was considered part of German hence the anti-Jews laws wereestablished equally in Holland as they were in Germany. The majorityof Jews who tried to free the country were extremely punished,sometimes with death penalty owing to the strict anti-Jewish nature.It is also clear that, protests staged by the Jews were met withincreased brutality by the SS officials, as well as hardenedanti-Jews policies that were used to propel Holocaust era in theNetherlands.
Gerstenfeld, M. (2011). Judging the Netherlands: The renewedHolocaust restitution process, 1997-2000. Jerusalem: JerusalemCenter for Public Affairs, Institute for Global Jewish Affairs.
Ten, B. C., Sherrill, J. L., & Sherrill, E. (2006). The hidingplace. Grand Rapids: Baker Pub. Group.