I would be lying if I would say that all Dutch opposed the Nazi occupiers, because there were many who were happy enough, to follow the rules of the new lords of the land.
However there were also many who opposed the evil regime and especially opposed the way they treated their Jewish friends and neighbours.
Organisations like ‘Het Derde Front” ,the third front- a Marxist resistance group, called to boycott all businesses who refused Jews. There was a national strike on February 25 and 26,1941, organized by several groups like the CPN)Communist Party Netherlands) and also the third front.
Both actions were announced by using posters and flyers. Anyone who would have been caught carrying these posters, would face severe punishments including the death penalty.
A few dozen organizers and participants of the strike were arrested and executed. Two of them died in Dachau. This did instill fear in the population of the Netherlands, because prior to that the Nazis hadn’t been too harsh against the Dutch, with the exception of the Jewish citizens of course.
However there were several acts of bravery throughout the war.
Approximately 75% of all Jews in the Netherlands were murdered during the Holocaust, an estimated 105,000. This is the highest number per capita of all occupied countries. In retrospect it is easy to judge those who didn’t act, but unless you have been in a situation like that yourself, you can’t
It is true that many collaborated with the Nazis and some of them made a living out of it, additionally the Dutch had a very sophisticated and effective civil service, combined with very accurate and up to date records of all citizens. This of course did help the Nazis greatly.
Despite all of that there were thousands who helped their Jewish fellow citizens, in many ways, again facing severe punishments and even the death penalty if they were caught.
Yad Vashem puts the number of the Dutch ‘Righteous among the Nations’ on 5,851. This is also the highest number per capita of all righteous.
The Righteous Among the Nations, honored by Yad Vashem, are non-Jews who took great risks to save Jews during the Holocaust. Rescue took many forms and the Righteous came from different nations, religions and walks of life. What they had in common was that they protected their Jewish neighbors at a time when hostility and indifference prevailed.
One of these brave people was Pieter Bosboom.
Pieter (Piet) Bosboom was responsible for rescuing around 1,000 people, Jews as well as Allied airmen and other fugitives. He was born in Zaandam, North Holland, to a religious Calvinist mother and socialist father, from both of whom he got his deeply humanistic character. As the Nazis tightened their grip on power in Germany, Piet became involved in bringing illegal refugees over the border to Holland. He quickly learned “laundering” techniques to provide escapees with new identities and visas to third countries.
In May 1940, he began organizing Resistance cells in and around Zaandam and prepared the local community to host Jewish fugitives. In August 1943, the director of the Bergstichting, a home for wayward children, was warned of an impending raid.
The institution, which was run by a non-Jewish couple, the Reitsemas, was home to many Jewish children and counselors. The director turned to the Resistance group run by Piet and Marietje Overduin and hiding places were found for the Jews. Among those in danger was Ruth Donath (later Neuberger), an immigrant from Vienna whose entire family had been deported. She was determined to leave her fate to chance and refused to go into hiding. Piet did his utmost to persuade her to change her mind, although she pointed out that nobody would have her because of her Jewish looks. Ruth finally gave in and was found a hiding place in Friesland and survived the war.
On November 3, 1970, Yad Vashem recognized Pieter Bosboom as Righteous Among the Nations.
It would be easy to judge those who did nothing, but I prefer to honor those who did act, and let them be my example. Because although the war and the Holocaust maybe over, the ideology that was at the foundation of this is still around, For decades it has been simmering in the background but in recent times it has be coming more and more to show itself.
Love still lingers on but so does hate and if we give in to that hate, history will repeat itself.
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