On 19 February 1941, the German Grüne Polizei stormed into the Koco ice cream salon in the Van Woustraat. In the fight that ensued, several police officers were wounded. The Nazi authorities did not put up with the attack on their police officers. To put an end to the unrest, they decided to hold a raid the weekend of 22 and 23 February. Revenge for that and other fights came and a large-scale pogrom was undertaken by the Germans. 425 Jewish men, ages 20–35 were taken hostage and imprisoned in Kamp Schoorl and eventually sent to the Buchenwald and Mauthausen concentration camps.
The February raids were only a prelude to much worse to come. These men were only the first of some 102,000 Jews from the Netherlands murdered during the Holocaust, a figure that represents 75 per cent of the Dutch Jewish population. Himmler, Seyss-Inquart and Rauter decided to set an example: the first raid on Jews became a fact. On Saturday afternoon, 22 February 1941, a column of German trucks appeared near Waterlooplein. The area was cordoned off, and men were seized in Amsterdam. February 1941 were the first Nazi raid on Jews in Western Europe.
Something that recently became known is that most of the Dutch prisoners, were taken to the Hartheim gas chamber for killing. Their families received false causes of death. Assumptions surfaced that the men had died of lead poisoning in the mines.
Historian Wally de Lang reported 108 murders at Hartheim Castle, a nearby Mauthausen Concentration Camp. Hartheim was also one of the T4 euthanasia centres.
Wally de Lang made it her mission in 2017 to discover the fates of each and every one of the men taken that day. “It was impossible for me to comprehend that 400 people of this town just disappeared without anyone knowing who they were,” said de Lang, who has spent several decades writing about Jewish history in the Netherlands.
The owners of the Koco Ice Cream Parlour were severely punished. Ernst Cahn was executed by the Nazis on the Waalsdorpervlakte, in the dunes near The Hague, on 3 March 1941. Alfred Kohn died in Auschwitz.
The arrests and brutal treatment shocked the population of Amsterdam. To respond, Communist activists organized a general strike on 25 February and were joined by many other worker organizations. Major factories, the transportation system, and most public services came to a standstill. After three days, the Germans brutally suppressed the strike, crippling the Dutch resistance organization.
The February strike was considered the first public protest against the Nazis in occupied Europe and the only mass protest against the deportation of Jews to be organized by non-Jews.