The Dispossession and Theft of Jewish Goods

I have been accused before of focusing on the involvement of the Dutch during the Holocaust too much. But I do believe, if you want to be critical of others, you have to look at your own first.

Like in Germany, the mistreatment and eventual murder of Jews in the Netherlands started as a gradual process and then sprung into an accelerated pace in the Netherlands.

During the Second World War, the Nazis thoroughly and systematically deprived the rights and possessions of the Jewish population in the Netherlands, with the cooperation of parts of the Dutch population. Legally, these steps were laid down in the form of regulations, which had the force of law. It is important to note that these regulations went completely against the Dutch constitution and the 1917 National War Regulations discussed earlier. Below is a timeline of the economic disenfranchisement of Dutch Jews.

May 1940: The German occupation of the Netherlands. From 18 May 1940, the highest administrative authority in the Netherlands rested with the Reichskommissar Arthur Seyss-Inquart, who could issue regulations.

October 1940: By regulation VO 189/1940, Jewish companies had to register. About 22,000 companies did so. From March 1941, they fell under the management of the German authorities, after which liquidation followed via a second, later regulation (VO 48/1941).

November 1940: Jewish civil servants were dismissed by decree (VO 137/1940).

January 1941: Every person with at least one Jewish grandparent had to register as a Jew with the population register. Historian Lou de Jong called this regulation of 10 January (VO 6/1941), “one of the most fatal regulations of the occupation years.”

August 1941: The first “Liro Regulation” (VO 148/1941) obliged Jews to transfer their bank accounts to Lippmann, Rosenthal & Co. to transfer.

That same month they had to register their real estate and income from it (VO 154/1941). As a result, the registration of 20,000 and 25,000 properties and approximately 5,600 mortgages took place. These fell under the management of the Niederländische Grundstücksverwaltung (NGV), or the Dutch Administration of Real Estate.

July 1942: The transport to extermination camps for Jews in the Netherlands began on a large scale. The government removed their rights at that time. From that moment on, it was open season for robbery and the sale of Jewish properties. The Hague Estate Agent and NSB member, Dirk Hidde de Vries established the General Dutch Property Management (ANBO) for the sale of looted Jewish properties.

The loss of their property rights meant a complete exclusion of Jews from economic and legal life in the Netherlands. This process went step by step through many different, including Dutch, organizations, but we can summarize it in three phases: registration, management and sales. Management, in this case, meant that the former owners no longer had any control over their property or businesses, nor did they receive any income from it. The appointed administrators only had to follow instructions from the occupier. The proceeds from the sale of the stolen Jewish property went to the German management agency Vermögensverwaltungs- und Rentenanstalt (VVRA), instead of to the rightful claimants. With this income, the occupying power paid, among other things, for the construction of the concentration and transport camps in the Netherlands. The managers and war buyers were not only Germans or members of the N.S.B., Dutch people without National Socialist convictions also participated.

Various organizations carried out the robbery of Jewish property and the sale, which was a culmination of the juridical and economic deprivation of Jews. As mentioned above in the timeline, Jewish land ownership was administered by the Niederländische Grundstückverwaltung (hereinafter referred to as NGV) and its private subcontractors. This management included all legal acts “which entail a proper management of Jewish land ownership” and aimed at selling the properties to ‘Aryan’ Dutchmen. By allowing the Dutch population to participate in the robbery of Jewish possessions, the German occupying forces were able to spread the National Socialist ideology. Part of the Dutch population also gained an interest in preventing the pre-war situation from being restored. The NGV appointed so-called Verwalter (private managers) to carry out these activities. In Schiedam, and also Rotterdam and The Hague, among others, these transactions were carried out by the Algemeen Nederlands Beheer Immovable Property. This organization was set up in 1941 specifically for the management of expropriated Jewish homes by the broker Dirk Hidde de Vries from The Hague, who had the power of substitution for the NGV. After the expropriation of Jewish houses, the managers had themselves registered as such in the land register. Homeowners who lived in their own homes then had to pay the managers rent to continue living in their own homes. When the manager sold Jewish properties, the former owners had to vacate their homes immediately, leaving them suddenly homeless. When Jewish owners were deported to extermination camps, their household effects were inventoried, by the Hausraterfassungstelle, after which the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg often transported furniture to Germany to replace furniture destroyed by bombings.

The NGV registered more than 7,000 transactions of expropriated Jewish property in the Verkaufsbücher. The organization and its trustees seem to have had mixed success selling Jewish homes. Historians differ in opinion about how eagerly the expropriated buildings were accepted by the Dutch population. In general, these house sales stagnated after the German defeat at Stalingrad in February 1943. Robin te Slaa notes that houses were sold with little success in The Hague, while Hinke Piersma and Jeroen Kemperman note that there was a lively trade in Amsterdam around the buildings. Some Dutch municipalities, such as Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam also purchased expropriated Jewish property themselves.


Rapport Joodse Huiseigenaren en Huurders Gemeente Schiedam

Laws against Jews in the Netherlands.

At their annual rally held in Nuremberg on September 15, 1935 Nazi party leaders announced, after the Reichstag had adopted them, new laws that institutionalized many of the racial theories underpinning Nazi ideology.

The so-called Nuremberg Laws, signed by Hitler and several other Nazi officials, were the cornerstone of the legalized persecution of Jews in Germany. They stripped German Jews of their German citizenship, barred marriage and “extramarital sexual intercourse” between Jews and other Germans, and barred Jews from flying the German flag, which would now be the swastika.

It would be less then 5 years later, when the Nazis introduced laws against Jews in the Netherlands.

In October 1940, only 5 months after the Germans invaded, a ban on ritual (kosher) slaughter was introduced. Additionally there were, removals of Jews from government employment, confiscations of radios. Jews were banned from recreational facilities, hotels, restaurants. Jews had to register with Dutch authorities by the deadline of January.

A great number of laws were to follow. The most cynical laws, at least that’s what I think, were the laws restricting the movements of Jews. In June 1942 Jews were forbidden to ride on public transportation such as buses and trams. Jews were given a residential curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. And one that may not seem like a harsh one, but anyone who knows the Netherlands knows the importance of the bicycles for the Dutch, On June 23 1942, Jews were required to turn in their bicycles.

The reason why I think these were cynical laws, is because they ensured that the Jews could not travel, therefore they had to remain near their home. This made it easier to find them and round them up during raids.

In a way I can understand why some Dutch turned a blind eye, I can understand it but don’t condone it. However one thing I can’t fathom is why some people did report their Jewish neighbours if they hadn’t turned in their bicycles. Neighbours they had lived next to for many years, and even had invited them into their house for coffee and cake. There was no punishment for not reporting Jews, yet so many were quite eager to betray their fellow citizens.



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Happy Birthday Aron Polak

Aron would have been 81 today, but he didn’t even get to the age of 2. He was born in Amsterdam on September 8, 1941. He was murdered in Sobibor March 26,1943.

The fact that he was murdered at such a young age is not even the saddest part of his story. There was actually a chance he could have survived.

Aron’s Father, Joseph, was sent to Westerbork, I am not sure on what date, bur sometime after November 1941. After that Aron’s Mother, Lena, went into hiding with Aron. She moved several times. Eventually she stayed with Family but due to tensions Lena decided to voluntarily report herself and Aron to Westerbork.

Lena actually believed that her Husband had a job in Westerbork, sorting out gold and silver. She probably thought that he could provide for his family, even in Westerbork.

Lena and her son Aron eventually reported themselves voluntarily in Westerbork on 27 February 1943. They stayed in barrack 72 and on the 1st of March, Joseph was also in that barrack. On March 23,1943, , the Polak family was deported to Sobibor and on arrival there on 26 March 1943 immediately sent to the gas chambers, and were murdered.

What is so disturbing about this, is that the Nazis somehow created the illusion that even when you were sent to Westerbork, there was a chance of a reasonable normal life.

As for young Aron, I will be looking up to the sky tonight, imagining he is one of the stars I will see. Happy Birthday little man, you were a star to your parents, and you are a star for all of us. A beacon to remind us of what you went through.


(updated September 8,2022)

Children murdered on September 6, 1944.

I was going to do a piece on Ursula Gerson, who was murdered in Auschwitz on September 6,1944 aged 8. But then I saw there were more Dutch Jewish children and Jewish refugees, who fled Germany and Austria with their parents, who were murdered that day.

Duifje Gans. murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11

Mirjam Lisette Katz, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Heijman Karel Franken, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 10.

Jeanette Regina Schenk, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mary Winnik, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mietje Judith Moscou, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11.

Samuel Groenteman, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 6.

Karel Jacobs, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 13.

These are only a few. There were at least327 Dutch Jews whose death were registered on September 6,1944.About 30 % or so were children

I was wondering why there were so many on that specific date.Then it dawned on me. They were all on the last transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz, which left the Netherlands on September 3,1944. Anne Frank and her family were also on that transport.

I know that I will have nightmares tonight with the faces of these poor souls haunting me, but it will be worth it. There fate and names should never be forgotten.


Remembering Isaias(Sjakie) Degen

I wish I could say I am remembering Sjakie Degen for his breakthrough work in science.

I wish I could say I am remembering Sjakie Degen for a great book he wrote.

I wish I could say I am remembering Sjakie Degen for a great painting he painted.

I wish I could say that Sjakie Degen was the Sjakie mentioned in the Dutch song “Sjakie van de hoek” Sjakie from the corner, the mischievous boy who broke a window by kicking a ball through it.

But none of that would be true, Sjakie Degen was just a boy.

He was born on December 13.1939 the first born son of Loutje and Beppie Degen and was nearly 3 1/2 years old, when he and his parents were registered in Camp Westerbork on 23 March 1943. He stayed with his parents for a few days in barrack 60. They were all deported on the 6th April to Sobibor. Upon arrival there on 9 April 1943, Sjakie and his parents were murdered in the gas chambers the very same day.

So all I can say about Sjakie is that he was murdered 25 years and 1 day before I was born.

He had brother who survived.