On 6 October 1940 every civil servant working in the Netherlands was given two forms. Form A declared that you were not Jewish, and thus Aryan, and form B – which had to be filled in in duplicate – was a declaration that you were Jewish. You had to sign one of the two forms and return it by 26 October 1940. The result of this move was that the German occupier could now identify all Jewish civil servants. They were soon dismissed from their government jobs.
Anyone with one or more Jewish grandparents (i.e. a grandparent who had been a member of the Jewish community) was considered to be a Jew and had to submit Form B (non-Aryan). Non-Jews submitted Form A (Aryan).
The declaration are sent out by the Dutch Civil Service without objection from the High Counsel, the highest Dutch Law colleger, whose president Lodewijk Ernst Visser is Jewish.
Visser never hesitated and stated the truth about his Jewish origin, resulting in his immediate temporarily discharge, followed by his final dismissal in March 1941. This declaration was one of the first tentative steps of the German occupier to separate Jewish citizens from the non-Jewish Dutchmen; courageous protests were heard in universities, but regretfully this antidemocratic measure passed practically without a word of protest from Visser’s colleagues on the bench (3), who feared for their jobs, occasioning, and certainly facilitating further anti-Jewish steps of increasing intensity. Visser understood only too well where all this was leading to and he warned where he could – to no avail.
In December 1940 he became chairman of the Joodse Coordinatie Commissie, in which the important Jewish organizations and religious councils were represented. The most important task of the commission was to defend the interests of the Jewish community, without having any contact with the German occupier. Very often however, the commission collided with the Joodse Raad (the Jewish Council), established by German orders. The Joodse Coordinatie Commissie was closed by the Germans in October 1941. Visser clearly saw the dubious role of the Joodse Raad, and warned often of the slippery slope the foremen of this body were walking in their obedience to the German authorities.
Visser also played an important part in the preparation of the illegal newspaper “Het Parool.”
On 17 February 1942 Visser passed away after a hemorrhage and was buried in Overveen with a Jewish ceremony (his grave can be seen in the Gravestone Archives of Akevoth under code number (198)026. His wife died in Westerbork on 20 March 1944. She was cremated and her ashes were buried next to her husbanD.
One person who did protest against the declaration was Rudolph Pabus Cleveringa.
A Professor of Commercial Law and Civil Law at Leiden University. Here, on November 26, 1940, he delivered his famous speech in which he protested against the resignation, forced by the German occupation authorities, of his mentor, promotor and colleague Professor Eduard Maurits Meijers, and other Jewish professors.
That same evening a group of students, led by André Koch of The Hague, made copies of the speech and disseminated them to other universities. Cleveringa was arrested and imprisoned in the summer of 1941 in the prison of Scheveningen, used for members of the Dutch resistance and nicknamed the “Orange Hotel”. The Leiden students decided to strike and then the University was closed. In 1944 Cleveringa was imprisoned in Camp Vught. There he joined the College van Vertrouwensmannen (“College of Trusted Men”) that coordinated the Dutch resistance.