The one subject I find difficult to address is how the Dutch treated the Jews during the war. It is easy for me to say they didn’t do enough to help their Jewish neighbours, because that would be true. However I did not live in that time. I did not have to face severe punishments, even death, for helping my Jewish fellow man or woman.
In retrospect it is easy to judge. This doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed properly, and it doesn’t mean we can look at it from a critical point of view.
It did take the Dutch government decades to apologize for the inaction of the Dutch government during the war.
On January 26,2020. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologised on behalf of his country’s government for its failure to protect Jews during World War Two.
Mr Rutte made the remarks at a Holocaust remembrance event in Amsterdam, ahead of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
“With the last remaining survivors among us, I apologise on behalf of the government for the actions of the government at the time. I do so, realising that no word can describe something as enormous and awful as the Holocaust.” he said.
On the other hand it is easy for me to be very critical about the Dutch, on how they treated the Jews after the Holocaust. The only word to describe it is ‘disgusting’. Unlike the other Dutch who could start to rebuild their lives after the war. The Dutch Jews often faced bureaucratic stumble blocks. Many of them were not even allowed to move back into their own houses or apartments, because they had been given to others during or shortly after the war. There was no fear of punishments then to help their Jewish neighbours. There were no threats to their lives if they would give their Jewish fellow man or woman, a helping hand.
Of the 104,000 Dutch Jews, 75% were murdered during the Holocaust. The suicides are also included in the 75% but I still refer to them as being murdered, because if it wasn’t for the Nazi regime they would not have taken their own lives.
The picture at the start of the blog is off a service in a synagogue in Amsterdam ,shortly after liberation. Each single person attending that service would have lost family and friends. Just think about that for a minute. There was no exception, each one of them lost at least one person near and dear to them.
In the defense of the Netherlands, compared to other European countries, really all other European countries, and especially the Eastern European countries, the Dutch have been confronting the historical inaccuracies since the 1980. There has been an effort to disperse the myth of some of the Dutch ‘heroics’.