When you look at the picture you might think that it is an innocent portrayal , of a street somewhere in the Netherlands.
A typical Dutch scene. Someone cycling, two bikes parked against a sign. What could be hateful here?
It is actually the sign itself that has a message of hate. It says “Jews not wanted” or “Jews not desired” . Above the sign there is another one, it gives us the name of the town ‘de Bilt’ . This is not just any town in the Netherlands, it is one of the most affluent towns in the country, it has been for centuries. It was the birthplace of Joan Gideon Loten, a prominent member of the Dutch East India Company .It was also the birthplace of Johan Beyen a politician, who helped create the European Economic Community. During World War II, he was, in addition to his position at Unilever, financial advisor to the Dutch government in exile in London. In 1944, he played an important role during the Bretton Woods conference where the foundations were laid for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. From 1946, he was the Dutch representative in the board of the World Bank and from 1948 also in that of the IMF.
The town is also where one of America’s wealthiest families originated from , the Vanderbilt family.
So a very influential town. No one in the town had to fear any hardships or job losses caused by Jews, yet this was one the lies spread by the Nazis.
The hateful rhetoric was based on nothing. Of course the sign, as many other signs, were put up on order by the Nazis, but there was little or no resistance by the population to put up them up.
The Holocaust didn’t happen overnight it was a gradual process.
De Bilt is and was also the home of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) since 1854. One of the institutes employees was Kittie Koperberg.
Kitty was fired from her job at the KNMI on November 21,1940 because she was Jewish. Even if she hadn’t been fired it was made very clear that she was no longer welcome in De Bilt. Like so many other Jews, Kittie was sent to Westerbork from there she was put on a transport to Sobibor on May 11,1943. When she arrived in Sobibor on the 14th of May she was murdered.
It is easy for me to judge in retrospect, however I don’t feel like it is a judgement but a critical analysis of the history of a dark era of the country I was born in. If we can’t be critical about our past we can never be critical about the present or the future. We will not learn from the mistakes that were made.
I know some people will jump on this blog to criticize the Dutch. But this will more then likely be done by people who live in one of the countries, that are currently white washing their mistakes, actively revising the history and distort it to suit their current narrative.
The hate against the Jews didn’t only exist in Germany but all over Europe.
The millions of victims of the Holocaust, and those who survived deserve better then that.
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