Communists Call For Strike in Amsterdam in Response to Persecution of the Jews

(February 25, 1941)


In the aftermath of clashes between Dutch Nazis and Jews in early February; the formation of the Amsterdam Jewish Council, the establishment of the “display ghetto” in central Amsterdam, where much of the Jewish proletariat lived; and an ostentatious and brutal operation on Saturday and Sunday, February 22-23, 1941 — in which nearly 400 Jews were rounded up, tortured publicly in the central square (surrounded by synagogues), and then sent to concentration camps — the public climate was extremely grim, especially in Amsterdam and the vicinity. This made the public receptive to urgings from the Dutch Communist Party (which sought an active role in municipal public affairs because the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact had cost the Communists international prestige) to strike in protest against the German behavior. On February 25-26, a general strike erupted in and around Amsterdam. The Germans, although taken by surprise, quelled the strike quickly and did not modify their policies toward the Jews. On the one hand, the “February strike” was the only public protest on behalf of the Jews in all of Europe during the Nazi era. On the other hand, it encouraged the Jews to expect extensive public support then and even later on, when the persecution became fiercer, and these expectations were dashed. The document below is a Communist Party poster urging the public to strike.


Protest against the horrible persecutions of the Jews! During the recent Saturday, Sunday, and Monday the Nazis behaved like beasts in neighborhoods with Jewish inhabitants.
Hundreds of fully armed members of the Gruene Feldpolizei [Military Police] suddenly appeared in the old city and in other neighborhoods and attacked helpless men, women, and children, while yelling, shouting, cursing, and shooting.
Hundreds of Jewish youngsters were seized in the streets, thrown into police cars, and sent to an unknown place of horrors.
This is the Nazi revenge of the brave self-defense [by Jews] that, two weeks ago, caused two Nazi riot “heroes” to retreat and the killing as a terrorist of the Fascist bandit Koot.
This is the ugly answer to the anger of the masses and the massive protest demonstration of the citizens of Amsterdam against the pogrom carried out against the Jews.
That is mainly the result of the great-capitalist “mediation” of Asscher, [Rabbi] Sarlovis, and Cohen, who, in their servility, agreed to shoulder the Jews' guilt and attempted to defeat the continued adoption of defensive measures in the struggle, arguing that “calm” will now be restored. These great capitalists are afraid that a ransom will be imposed, and their money is dearer to them than the Jewish workers!
The SS and the military police [Grane Feldpolizei], whom even the German soldiers loathe, are carrying out this dirty work with genuine pleasure. Here the dregs and the chaff of the German people are at work. The stupid and lowly Dutch Nazis, the dregs of our people, who absented themselves in this case, should learn from this rabble how to impose terror on the working masses.
These riots against the Jews represent an attack on all the laboring masses!!!
They constitute the beginning of harsher enslavement and terrorism!!!
They cannot but pave the way for the usurpation of rule by [Anton Adriaan] Mussert, whom every Dutchman despises!!!
Proletarian residents of Amsterdam, will you put up with this?
No, a thousand times no!!!
Are you able and willing to prevent this disgusting terror in the future?
Yes, definitely!!!
The metalworkers in Amsterdam have shown the way. They struck in unison against their forced transport to Germany, and the coercive power of the German military administration had to contend with this resistance! In one day, the metalworkers triumphed!!
So, do not let the jackboot of the German soldier intimidate you!
Organize protest strikes in all factories!!
Join ranks to fight against this terrorism!!
Demand the immediate liberation of the interned Jews!!
Demand the disbanding of the Dutch Fascist terror groups!!!
Organize self-defense in factories and neighborhoods!!
Show your solidarity with the Jewish segment of the proletariat, which has been so badly mistreated!!
Spare the Jewish children from the terror of the Nazi atrocities; take them in with your families!!!
Be aware of the tremendous might of your unified action!!!
It is much greater than that of the German military occupation! There's no doubt that many German proletarian soldiers support your resistance!!!
Strike!! Strike!! Strike!!!
Shut down all of Amsterdam for one day—shipyards, factories, shops, offices, banks, city hall, and enterprise works!!
Then the German occupier will have to retreat! You will have dealt a blow to the monstrous scheme to bring Mussert to power! You will have thwarted the continued plunder of our land! You will have made it possible to oust Woudenberg from the trade union!!!
Demand increases in wage and welfare benefits everywhere!!
Be united!! Be brave!!
Stiffen your spine and fight to deliberate our country!!!!...

Source: L. De Jong, "Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog," vol. 4, s Gravenhage, 1972, illustration between pp. 920-921.


Source: Yad Vashem - Eclipse of Humanity