The Dutch army capitulated on 14 May 1940
, after a resistance lasting 5 days.
Anti-Jewish measures were taken almost from the start of the occupation of the country, gradually segregating
the Jews from the rest of the population. How did that "rest" react?
In some newspapers and churches in October 1940
words of protest were heard.
The German authorities forbade further publication of matters concerning Jews. At some universities protest
arose from students when Jewish professors were fired in November 1940
As a reaction, the Technical High School of Delft
was closed by the Sipo
At the University of Leiden
objected to the exclusion measure in an impressive speech.
But that was about all.
In February 1941
anti-Jewish riots were provoked in
by Dutch Nazi sympathisers, protected by the German authorities. This started the first - and only -
massive protest against the anti-Jewish measures in the Netherlands. The ostensible reason for
these riots was a show, on 9 February
, by Jewish artists in the Alcazar
Cabaret on the
. Members of the
WA ("i>Weer Afdeling" a uniformed and lightly armed section of the Dutch Nazi Party, NSB)
together with German soldiers, threw bicycles through the windows of the building and smashed
the interior to smithereens. Then they moved into the nearby Jewish quarter (mostly referred to
as the “Jodenhoek
” (Jews Corner)), molested people and rifled their houses. Heavy
fighting occurred on the Waterloo-Plein
the centre of the Jodenhoek
. Because no protection was provided by the police against
these WA gangs, the Jews in the Jodenhoek
initiated the formation of fighting squads to
protect themselves. In addition, non-Jewish neighbours and workers from the nearby neighbourhoods
participated in these squads. They carried primitive
weapons such as canes and iron chains.
On the evening of 11 February 1941
, WA men again entered the Jodenhoek
New fighting in the
streets occurred. A WA man Hendrik Koot
, was severely injured.
From the testimony of a Jewish participant in this fighting, it is known that Koot
was hit with an iron chain and subsequently repeatedly kicked in the face. He died three days
later from his wounds. The Germans and the NSB used this dramatic event for propaganda
purposes, for did it not prove how dangerous these Jewish terrorists were? In the NSB newspaper
Het Nationale Dagblad
(The National Daily) a picture was shown of three of these
“terrorists”, armed with canes and axes. In fact these were just arbitrarily arrested boys,
who were posed for the photographer with the weapons in their hands.
On 12 February 1941
, using fences and barbed wire, the Jodenhoek
off by the Orpo
. The well known signs "Judenviertel / Joodsche Wijk
" were fixed in place. Jewish houses
were searched for weapons. That same day a diamond dealer, Abraham Asscher
was ordered to form a "Joodsche Raad voor Amsterdam
" (Jewish Council for
), to help restore peace in the city.
On 17 February 1941
with great ostentation. A photograph exists of the funeral procession, consisting of horse drawn coaches and numerous
WA men dressed in their black uniforms, parading by the Amstel River.
Two days later another violent incident occurred. A unit of the "Grüne Polizei
(Green Police) patrolled in the Van Woustraat
and entered an ice cream shop named Koko (or Koco)
. The Jewish owners of the shop
sprayed a burning liquid into the faces of the policemen. Several people were arrested. This
incident made a great impression on the German occupiers. Rauter
wrote a report to Himmler
about the incidents in the
in the most vivid terms.
An "adequate" answer was given to these "provocations" on 22 and 23 February 1941
A massive round up, the first of its kind in Holland, was held at the Jonas
and the surrounding streets. 600 men of the Orpo
armed with machine guns, humiliated Jews and beat them up. Eventually 389 men were arrested,
transported to the police camp (Internierungslager
) in Schoorl
50 km north of Amsterdam
, and a few days later
were sent from there to KZ Buchenwald
where many of them died. After 4 months the survivors were deported from
to KZ Mauthausen
There all but one of them died from torture and exhaustion.
"Protest against the awful persecution of Jews!!!" was the title of a pamphlet, issued on
25 February 1941
, in which workers of all kinds of enterprises were encouraged to
go on strike:
Organize a protest strike in all enterprises!!!
Fight unanimously against this terror!!!
Require immediate freedom for the arrested Jews!!!
Require the dissolution of WA terror groups!!!
Organize self-defence in enterprises and neighbourhoods!!!
Show your solidarity with the severely hurt Jewish part of the working people!!!
Protect Jewish children from the Nazi violence by taking them into your families!!!
The initiative was taken by illegal left wing opposition groups like the former Dutch communist party.
The appeal was honoured by thousands of workers in Amsterdam
but also in towns nearby such as Zaandam, Haarlem, Hilversum,
, and in other places. No trams were seen in the streets of
, but workers assembled and marched up to the
in the city centre: a unique
manifestation of solidarity. The German occupying troops were completely surprised. But they
made several charges to disperse the crowds, and by 7:30 p.m. the situation in the city centre
returned to normal. Some 200 people were arrested and mistreated at the
. By 27 February
the strike was over.
On 13 March 1941
, together with 15 members of an illegal resistance group "De Geuzen
(the Beggars), three of the strikers were executed by a firing-squad after a show trial. A Dutch
poet, Jan Campert
, wrote a poem about this execution,
"De achttien dooden
" (The 18 dead). Campert
in KZ Neuengamme
, in unclear circumstances.
The news from Buchenwald
, and especially from
, of so many dead during the following
months, had an enormous impact on the Dutch population. No massive national resistance was
shown after the dramatic events of February 1941
J.C.H. Blom e.a., Geschiedenis van de Joden in Nederland
, ed. Olympus, Den Haag, 2004
Dr J Presser, Ondergang
, ed. Staatsuitgeverij, ’s-Gravenhage, 1965
J. Dankers & J. Verheul, 39/45, Bezet gebied dag in dag uit
, ed. Het Spectrum B.V., Utrecht / Antwerpen 1985
Wolf Kielich en Jacob Zwaan, Aanzien 40-45
, ed. Amsterdam Boek BV, Amsterdam 1975
Dr L. de Jong, Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog, deel 8, Gevangenen en gedeporteerden
ed. Martinus Nijhof, ’s Gravenhage 1978
Jerry Meents, USA, Testimony from his father who took part in the fighting in Amsterdam on the night of 11 February 1941
© ARC 2005