NETHERLANDS, THE (Holland)
NETHERLANDS, THE (Holland), kingdom in N.W. Europe.
The Middle Ages
It is not known when exactly the Jews settled in the area which is now called The Netherlands. As early as the 11th century one can find some indications of Jewish settlers in what was then called the Lowlands, an area which included the Southern Netherlands.
Early sources from the 11th and 12th centuries mention official debates or Disputationes between Christians and Jews, in which attempts were made to convince the Jews of the truth of Christianity and to try to convert them. It is not certain whether the Jews were residents in the area or whether they were just passing through.
However, as of the 13th century, there are sources which indicate that Jews were living in the areas of Brabant and Limburg, mainly in cities such as Brussels, Leuven, Tienen, and Maastricht. Sources from the 14th century also mention Jewish residents in the cities of Antwerp and Mechelen and in the northern region of Geldern.
Between 1347 and 1351, the entire area covering Europe was hit by the plague or Black Death and this led to a new theme in medieval antisemitic rhetoric. The Jews were held responsible for the epidemic and for the way it was rapidly spreading, because presumably they were the ones who had poisoned the water of the springs used by the Christians. Various medieval chronicles mention this, e.g., those of Radalphus de Rivo (c. 1403) of Tongeren, who wrote about how the Jews were murdered in the Brabant region and in the city of Zwolle because they were accused of spreading the Black Death. This accusation was added to the other traditional accusations against the Jews, such as piercing the Host used for
From the 15th century, Jews also resided in the Northern Netherlands. Their most important occupation was moneylending, making them dependent on the economies of the cities. In this way, Nijmegen became an important financial marketplace where a great many of Jewish families came to settle. Nonetheless, Jews continued to choose the large cities in the Southern Netherlands as for their home base. In the 16th century the city of Antwerp came to be a very important location for Jewish tradesmen and moneylenders because of its flourishing economy. This also turned it into a refuge for a number of Marranos who had been expelled from Spain and Portugal after 1492. Jewish bankers usually settled there using a Christian pseudonym. Francisco Mendes, born into a distinguished family of bankers, opened a branch in Antwerp that was one of the largest banks in Europe. After his death in 1536 it was run by his wife Gracia *Nasi. The flourishing Jewish trade in Antwerp ended, however, when The Netherlands were divided during the reign of king Philip II and many Jews took refuge in the Northern Netherlands, especially in *Amsterdam.
[Monika Saelemaekers (2nd ed.)]
Sephardim and Ashkenazim until 1795
The independent Dutch Republic was a popular emigration destination because of its economic prosperity and relative tolerance. Many job-seeking Germans, Huguenot Frenchmen, and dissenting scholars tried their luck in this strange country where, instead of a sovereign, the bourgeoisie were the rulers. Also Jews found their way to the Republic.
Among the Portuguese merchants in the Netherlands in the 17th century many were Marranos. It is known of one of them, Marcus Perez, became a Calvinist and played an important role in the Netherlands' revolt against Spain. Without doubt there were many Marranos among the 20,000 merchants, industrialists, and scholars who left Antwerp in 1585 for the Republic of the United Provinces. Around 1590 the first indications of a Marrano community are to be found in Amsterdam, but its members did not openly declare themselves as Jews. The Beth Jaäcob community was founded around 1600. It was discovered in 1603 and the Ashkenazi rabbi Moses Uri b. Joseph ha-Levi, who had come from Emden the previous year, was arrested. Religious liberty was not yet granted in Amsterdam and therefore the Marranos who had returned to Judaism, along with newly arrived Jews from Portugal, Italy, and Turkey, tried to obtain a foothold somewhere else. In 1604 they were granted a charter in Alkmaar, and in 1605 in Haarlem and Rotterdam. Not only were they accorded privileges regarding military service and the Sabbath but they were also permitted to build a synagogue and open a cemetery as soon as their numbers reached 50, and to print Hebrew books. Nevertheless, only a few availed themselves of these privileges, and in spite of the difficulties most Jews settled in Amsterdam; among them was the representative of the sultan of Morocco, Don Samuel *Palache.
In 1608 a second community, Neveh Shalom, was founded by Isaac Franco and in the same year the first Sephardi rabbi, Joseph *Pardo, was appointed. As the legal status of the Jews was not clearly defined, the authorities were asked by various bodies to clarify their attitude: the two lawyers, Hugo *Grotius and Adriaan Pauw, were asked to draw up special regulations for the Jews. However, in a resolution of Dec. 13, 1619, the provinces of Holland and West Friesland decided to allow each city to adopt its own policy toward the Jews. The other provinces followed this example, and this situation remained in force until 1795. For this reason the status of the Jews differed greatly in the various towns. In Amsterdam there were no restrictions on Jewish settlement, but Jews could not become burghers and were excluded from most trades; however, no such disabilities existed in several other towns. A large number of Portuguese Jews, in search of greater economic opportunities, took part in the expedition to *Brazil and in 1634 Joan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen granted the charter they had requested. When the Netherlands was compelled to cede Brazil to Portugal (1654) many Jews returned to Amsterdam. The Dutch Republic, however, demanded that its Jews be recognized as full citizens abroad and that no restrictive measure be imposed on them if they visited a foreign country, especially Spain (1657). The Ashkenazim also enjoyed the rights which the Portuguese Jews had obtained in the larger towns.
In the first half of the 18th century in the eastern part of the country also, in the area bordering Germany, small communities could be founded with complete religious liberty. Following on the activities of some Jewish robbers, however, several cities enacted measures against Jewish settlement: Groningen (1710), Utrecht (1713), Gouda, the province of Friesland (1712), and the province of Overijssel (1724). Amersfoort protested against one such regulation in the province of Gelderland (1726), and it was decided to introduce a certificate of good behavior, which subsequently became a requirement in most cities. Because this certificate was issued by the parnasim, who also had to guarantee the good behavior of the applicant, they acquired considerable power over the newcomers. Until the Emancipation the legal position of the Jews remained unclear since it was wholly dependent on local or provincial authorities. In legal cases the Jews were subject to the laws of the land and were judged in the government courts. As they could not take the usual–Christian–oath, a special formula was introduced by the different provinces (the last in Overijssel in 1746), but this had no derogatory content. Sometimes Jews even sought the decision of Christian scholars in religious affairs. The municipal authorities intervened in the communities in the case of serious internal conflicts, as
In spite of the restrictive regulations to which they were subject (which included among other things exclusion from the existing guilds), the Sephardi Jews were able to acquire some economic importance. Thanks to their knowledge of languages, administrative experience, and international relationships, they played an important part in the expanding economy of the young Republic of the Netherlands, especially from 1610 onward when Amsterdam became an established center of world trade. After 1640 there was an increase in the number of current account customers and the size of their accounts at the discount bank (Wisselbank). In the second half of the 17th century the Sephardim also occupied an important place among the shareholders of the East India Company, the most powerful Netherlands enterprise. Portuguese Jews also acquired some prominence in industry, especially in sugar refineries, and the silk, tobacco, and diamond industries; although the latter had been initiated by Christian polishers, in the course of time it became an exclusively Jewish industry. However they became most celebrated for book printing; in 1626 a large number of works were produced at a high standard of printing for the day. Among the richest Portuguese Jews, who were purveyors to the army and made loans to the court, were Antonia Alvarez *Machado, the Pereira family, Joseph de Medina and his sons, and the baron Antonio Lopez *Suasso. These and other Portuguese Jews traded in stocks and shares from the second half of the 17th century and probably constituted the majority of traders in this field (see *Stock Exchange). Such activity was centered in Amsterdam; the only other important settlements were in The *Hague, because of the proximity of the royal court, and Maarssen, a village near Utrecht (which itself did not admit Jews) which was the center of the country houses of the rich Portuguese families. From Amsterdam the Portuguese Jews took part in the economic exploration and exploitation of old and new regions, mainly in the Western hemisphere: Brazil, New Amsterdam, *Surinam, and Curaçao.
During the course of the 18th century trade declined and economic activity concentrated to a growing extent on stockjobbing. Daring speculations and successive crises led to the downfall of important families, such as the De *Pintos. The situation worsened after the economic crisis of 1772/73 and became grave during the French occupation (from 1794) when trade in goods practically came to a standstill. Government monetary measures struck especially at the rentiers, and by the end of the 18th century the once wealthy community of Amsterdam included a large number of paupers: 54% of the members had to be given financial support.
Cultural Activities of the Portuguese Community
The 17th century, the "Golden Age" of the Republic of the Netherlands, was also a time of cultural expansion for the Portuguese community. The medical profession was the most popular, and there were often several physicians in one family, as in the case of the Pharar family (Abraham "el viejo," David, and Abraham), and the *Bueno family (no less than eight, the most famous being Joseph, who in 1625 was called to the sickbed of Prince Maurits of Nassau, and whose son, Ephraim *Bueno, was painted by Rembrandt), and the De Meza, *Aboab, and De Rocamora families. The most celebrated physicians were *Zacutus Lusitanus and Isaac *Orobio de Castro. From 1655 onward there were physicians who had completed their studies in Holland, especially in Leiden and Utrecht. They were free to practice their profession among non-Jews also, but they were required to take a special oath. In Amsterdam, where the surgeons and pharmacists (who needed no academic training) were organized into guilds, Jews could not be officially admitted to these professions (according to the regulation of 1632). Nevertheless they set up in practice, with the result that in 1667 they were forbidden to sell medicine to non-Jews. This regulation was ignored, and so when a new
regulation was issued in 1711 the restrictive clause was not included. Many Portuguese Jews were artists (notably the illuminator Shalom *Italia and engraver Jacob Gadella) and writers, mainly of poems and plays in Spanish and Portuguese; there were even two special clubs where Spanish poetry was studied. The best-known poet was Daniel Levi (Miguel) de *Barrios, the first historian of the Marrano settlement in the Netherlands.
More interesting, however, was the high level of study of Judaism and its literature from the early days of the settlement, and this in spite of the fact that large numbers of the newcomers had returned to Judaism at an advanced age. In order to teach the younger generation about Judaism the two kehillot in Amsterdam, Beth Jaäcob and Neveh Shalom, founded in 1616 the Talmud Torah or Ets Haim yeshivah. Through the efforts of teachers from the Sephardi Diaspora, such as Saul Levi *Morteira and Isaac *Aboab da Fonseca, the yeshivah became renowned. Among the later teachers were, *Manasseh ben Israel, Moses Raphael de *Aguilar and Jacob *Sasportas. The facilities for printing books (see above) contributed to the high level of scholarship, and the independent production of scientific, theological, and literary works in Hebrew also developed. The most important writers were Moses *Zacuto, Solomon de *Oliveyra, Joseph *Penso de la Vega, and in the 18th century David *Franco-Mendes.
The return of the Marranos to Judaism was accompanied by conflicts about the nature of their religion. In 1618 a group of strictly Orthodox Jews left Beth Jaäcob and founded the Beth Jisrael community because they did not accept the liberal leadership of the parnas David Pharar. Soon after, Uriel da *Costa's attack on Orthodox Judaism caused an upheaval throughout the whole *Marrano Diaspora. The most famous case was that of Baruch *Spinoza, who was banned from the kehillah for his heretical opinions. At this period–as among Sephardim elsewhere–Lurianic *Kabbalah had many followers in Amsterdam, which explains the enthusiasm for *Shabbetai Zevi that prevailed in the community in 1666. The Shabbateans maintained a strong influence for a long period and, during the chief rabbinate of Solomon *Ayllon, there was a serious conflict in which the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Amsterdam Zevi Hirsch *Ashkenazi (Ḥakham Ẓevi) was involved (1713). The failure of the Shabbatean movement on the one hand and the power and wealth of the kehillah (all three congregations united in 1639) on the other led to an ever-increasing isolation from the rest of the Jewish world and to a rapprochement with Dutch society. The turning point was the founding of the famous Esnoga (synagogue), inaugurated in 1675, which subsequently dominated Sephardi community life.
Unlike the Sephardim, the Ashkenazim spread throughout the whole Republic of the Netherlands, although their main center was also in Amsterdam. The first Ashkenazim arrived in Amsterdam around 1620, establishing their first congregation in 1635. The first emigration was from Germany but in the second half of the 17th century many Jews also came from Poland and Lithuania: they founded a separate community (1660), but in 1673, after disputes between the two, the municipal authorities ordered it to amalgamate with the German one. The community grew rapidly, outnumbering the Portuguese in the 17th century though remaining in a subservient position until the end of the 18th century. During the 17th century, the most important communities outside Amsterdam were in Rotterdam and The Hague. At that time Jews also settled in several towns in the provinces bordering Germany: Groningen, Friesland, Overijssel, and Gelderland. In spite of restrictive measures, their number increased in the 18th century, and they extended to a large number of smaller towns. There were a few very rich Ashkenazi families, such as the *Boas' (The Hague), the Gomperts (Nijmegen and Amersfoort), and the Cohens (Amersfoort), but the overwhelming majority earned a meager living as peddlers, butchers, and cattle dealers. In Amsterdam the economic difficulties of the Ashkenazi Jews were even more acute and the poverty among them even greater. Apart from the diamond and book printing industries, very few trades were open to them and the majority engaged in trading in second-hand goods and foodstuffs. Foreign trade, mainly in money and shares, was concentrated in Germany and Poland. Culturally the Ashkenazi yishuv depended on Germany and Eastern Europe, from where most of their rabbis came. The colloquial language was Yiddish, increasingly mixed with Dutch words. Contact with the non-Jewish population was superficial, except among the very small upper class which arose in the second half of the 18th century.
Political Emancipation and National Integration, 1795–1870
EMANCIPATION PERIOD, 1795–1815
The Batavian Revolution of 1795, inspired by the French Revolution of 1789, brought an end to the Dutch Republic and the presence of the House of Orange in it. The Oranges left for England and in the local and national authorities the Orangist establishment was replaced by the enlightened party of the Patriots. The French army and French diplomats played a significant role in the political transformation of the country. Gradually the Batavian Republic, as it was called, replaced the old federalist system by a centralist structure. Several coups of more radical groups destabilized the political system. In 1806 the Kingdom of Holland replaced the Batavian Republic, providing the country a more direct link with the French Empire through the appointment of Louis Napoleon as king. He acted, however, too independently of his brother, resulting in his forced abdication and the annexation of the Kingdom of Holland to the Napoleonic Empire (1810). The discontent with the French grew in this period, because of the impoverishment of the country and the forced recruitment of Dutch boys for Napoleon's army. After the fatal Russian campaign, the French left the Netherlands in 1813. William of Orange returned to the country and after the Congress of Vienna in 1815 became
There was a gradual drop of the number of newcomers, owing to the difficult economic situation and the Napoleonic wars. At the beginning of the Batavian period some influential families left with the stadtholder's family to England, including a part of the important Cohen family. Migration from Germany and Eastern Europe dropped in these years. Most Jews lived in Amsterdam, with significant communities in the other large cities: Rotterdam and The Hague. In 1810 there were 49,973 Ashkenazim and 5,000 Sephardim in the Netherlands.
The Continental System, introduced by Napoleon to prevent economic relations with his arch-enemy, England, had a devastating impact on Dutch economy. Not only the ties with British companies had to be ended, also the seaways to the colonies were henceforth closed to Dutch traders. The British empire took all Dutch colonies, including the East Indies, Ceylon, and Surinam. Many rich Sephardi families had put their money in the East and West Indies Companies, which were dissolved. This had a great impact on the Sephardi community, resulting in increasing impoverishment. Also the Ashkenazi community was hit by the economic measures. In the cities the proletariat grew, while in the countryside many Jews tried to earn a living as itinerant merchants, peddlers, and beggars.
The Batavian Revolution resulted in a new republic in which enlightened ideas became policy. On the demand of the predominantly Jewish *Felix Libertate society the national parliament discussed the granting of citizenship to the Jews. On September 2, 1796, the government published the Emancipation Decree, granting civil rights to the Dutch Jews. From now on, Jews could vote and be elected to all political representative functions (including the courts). Jews were also allowed to settle anywhere in the Republic, thus opening cities like Utrecht to Jewish settlement. The ban on Jews in certain economic fields, via exclusion from the guilds, was lifted as well. After a few years the guilds were even abolished.
This political emancipation resulted in the first two Jewish parliamentarians. In 1798 H.L. Bromet and H. de H. Lemon were elected and were active in the radical enlightened faction within parliament. Jews were also elected to the municipal councils of Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam.
The Emancipation Decree also meant the abolition of the semi-autonomous "Jewish Nation." The chief rabbis and parnassim of the communities no longer had the legal right to rule to community as before and to enforce obedience to the halakhah in the private lives of its members. The authority of the bet din to settle all internal conflicts according to the halakhah was severely diminished and reduced to the strictly religious domain. Because from now on the Jewish community was no longer a corporation within the state but an association of free and independent citizens, the parnassim no longer had the right to collect taxes for the community. Although the legal situation changed, in practice many Jewish communities continued operating as before. In Amsterdam, the small group of enlightened Ashkenazi Jews tried to change things from within but failed and founded their own congregation, Adat Yesurun. Only under severe pressure of King Louis Napoleon was this community reunited with the older and larger one several years later.
One of the most enduring changes in this period was the centralization of the Jewish community. Just like the other religious groups within the Republic, the Dutch Reformed Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Jewish community was subsumed under a national organization, uniting all local communities that had enjoyed independence before. Modeled after the French consistorial system, the Opperconsistorie (1808–10) had to unite, control, and reorganize the Dutch Jewish community. The Sephardim were allowed to remain outside this organization. The Opperconsistorie functioned as part of the Department of Religious Affairs and was headed by Jonas Daniel *Meyer. Carel *Asser also played a decisive role in this organization. The Netherlands were divided into 11 provinces, headed by a consistorial synagogue controlling the kehillot in its vicinity. Through its rigorous emancipation policy it soon faced considerable opposition from the old establishment of parnassim and rabbis. It advocated the translation of the Bible into Dutch, promoted the erection of a special Jewish Corps in the army, and tried to ban Yiddish from synagogue.
After the annexation of the Kingdom of Holland into the French Napoleonic Empire in 1810, the Opperconsistorie was replaced by four regional consistories. These consistories operated under the aegis of the Consistoire Central in Paris, just like other consistories within the Empire. Because of the political developments, however, the new regional consistories had hardly any time to start their activities. In 1813 the French left the Netherlands and the consistories stopped their activities.
CENTRALIZATION AND NATIONALIZATION, 1815–1870
The Kingdom of the Netherlands united once again Northern and Southern Netherlands. Both Amsterdam and Brussels acted as its capitals, but The Hague remained the actual administrative city, with the permanent residence of the king and his family. In 1830 a revolt broke out in the Southern Netherlands against William I's enlightened centralistic policies, including use of the Dutch language policy and control over the Catholic Church. This resulted in the establishment of Belgium, a fact accepted at last by William I in 1839. After he abdicated he was succeeded by his son, William II. Growing dissatisfaction with the autocratic style of leadership of the Oranges resulted in a growing Liberal movement. Fearing the wave of liberal revolutions that swept over Europe in 1848, William II agreed to adopt a constitution. The new constitution transferred much of the king's power to parliament. Also
The Jewish community remained stable in this period. As a result of the economic situation, many Jews left the cities and sought to earn their livelihoods in the countryside (called the mediene in Dutch Yiddish). Regional cities which had banned Jews in the Dutch Republic were now open to them. Jews settled in even the smallest villages. This resulted in a growing regional differentiation among Dutch Jewry, because regional relations determined the fate of the Jewish families in the countryside. They married among themselves, started communal life, erected synagogues, and buried their dead in new Jewish cemeteries. Also economically the mediene Jews cooperated intensively. This is the only period in which the relatively dominant position of Amsterdam within the Jewish community declined.
The political emancipation of 1796 did not imply socio-economic emancipation. Although political barriers were lifted and the guilds no longer existed, the position of the Jews on the labor market remained one-sided and problematic. Most Jews did not break away from the traditional patterns of employment, because of family traditions and the non-Jewish fear of new competitors. Only in the course of the century did the Jewish poor learn crafts in order to broaden the economic base of the Jewish community. In the first half of the century, however, the situation remained precarious. In the cities no less than half the Jewish population were paupers. In the countryside Jews eked out a living as butchers, peddlers, and petty merchants.
Only a small but nevertheless growing part of the community succeeded in entering new domains. The Jewish newspapers proudly mentioned Dutch Jews who obtained important jobs in the government, juridical system, or army. A number of Jewish lawyers enjoyed authority, such as Jonas Daniel *Meyer, who was a member of the constitutional committee in 1815. The *Asser and De *Pinto families produced a number of renowned lawyers, while M.H. *Godefroi became the first Jewish minister of justice. In the countryside there was a small Jewish elite, such as the families Hartogensius in Brabant, Duparc in Frisia, and Schaap in Amersfoort and Groningen.
After the collapse of the consistorial system, in the wake of Napoleon's defeat, a number of kehillot advocated a return to the old model, in which they enjoyed independence. The Dutch government, however, created a new central organization, the Hoofdcommissie tot de zaken der Israëliten (Supreme Committee on Israelite Affairs). This committee, being a part of the Department for Religious Affairs, functioned as an intermediary body between the government and the Jewish community. In it, the Sephardim and the Ashkenazim were brought together in one national organization. On the one hand, it enforced government laws within the community, which was structured hierarchally with the Hoofdcommissie at the top. On the other hand, the Hoofdcommissie brought complaints of the Jewish community to the attention of the government. In this way, antisemitic local authorities were dealt with by the national government. The Hoofdcommissie, functioning from 1814 to 1870, had two equally important goals: the centralization and the nationalization of the Dutch Jewish community.
In the first half of the 19th century the entire Jewish community was restructured. Local Jewish communities were brought together under the jurisdiction of the largest provincial community, called the Supreme Synagogue. Also the Southern Netherlands, until 1830, and the colonies became part of this structure. For the rabbis a similar structure was created, with the chief rabbis responsible for the jurisdiction of their Supreme Synagogue. But also Jewish education, poor relief, and the mohalim were reorganized in order to make it easier to be controlled by the Hoofdcommissie and the national government.
The centralization of the community served the second objective of the Hoofdcommissie, namely its nationalization. The Emancipation Decree reduced Jewish identity to a religious one only. All national Jewish characteristics had to be eradicated and replaced by a Dutch identity. Therefore, Yiddish was combated and Dutch promoted. This language policy was successful in the end. The implementation of the policy was gradual. In order to have the new generation raised with Dutch as its mother tongue, much attention was paid to the Jewish schools. At first new Dutch textbooks were written to replace older Yiddish methods. Besides the Dutch language and Dutch history, also geography and mathematics were introduced into the school curriculum. As most of the teachers were only able to teach in Yiddish–because they were recent immigrants from Poland–they were tolerated for a while, until the new generation of Dutch school-teachers was ready. Thereafter things went quickly and Yiddish was completely banned from the Jewish schools. The national inspector, Dr. Samuel Israel *Mulder, reported to the Hoofdcommissie on the language situation in the schools. If Yiddish was still in use somewhere, the government subsidy was withdrawn. After the new school law of 1857, which ended government subsidies for religious schools, the Jewish schools were closed and the children started attending public schools. Jewish religious instruction was given after regular school and on Sundays.
No less important was the shunting aside of Yiddish in the religious domain. This began with a prohibition against making announcements in Yiddish. These now had to be in Dutch. The second step was the promotion of Dutch sermons, replacing the Yiddish (and Portuguese) derashot. A prize was established for the best Jewish sermon in Dutch. Because many rabbis were from Poland and Germany and were not able to preach in Dutch, they were allowed to give their addresses in German. In the meanwhile the Dutch Israelite Seminary was reorganized in order to produce a new generation of
This language policy was accompanied by a series of measures to Protestantize synagogal liturgy. The Jewish elite that staffed the Hoofdcommissie and the boards of parnassim of the local kehillot promoted decorum and order in the synagogue. They forbade speaking during the service, banned traditional Homenkloppen on Purim, and tried to introduce the ceremony of confirmation in addition to the bar mitzvah.
However, these innovations did not result in the founding of Reform communities in the Netherlands. Although there were some attempts to introduce Reform Judaism in the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam and the Eastern Provinces, they failed. Because the Jewish community, via the Hoofdcommissie, was controlled by the government, there was no chance for Reform Judaism. The government did not want any arguments within the community. The ruling Jewish elite had adopted the same policy as the Dutch patricians: a constant search for the middle way and avoidance of extremes. In order to keep the whole community together, only minor innovations were introduced, and all the religious ones had to be approved by the chief rabbis. The boundaries of the halakhah determined the space of policymakers in the Netherlands. On the whole, the Sephardi model, in which social integration and religious halakhic observance were combined, was popular among both Ashkenazi and Sephardi elites.
[Bart Wallet (2nd ed.)]
1870–1940: Rapid Growth and the Emergence of a Dutch-Jewish Sub-Culture
WHY 1870–1940? The year 1870 has been widely accepted in Dutch and Dutch-Jewish historiography as the beginning of a new period. Generally, industrialization and economic expansion improved the economic situation of all sectors of society, but also caused growing social awareness and the creation of trade unions; the democratization process caused the masses to get involved in politics, thus promoting political parties. Yet, this was accompanied in The Netherlands by a segmentation of society into several subgroups (the Protestant "pillar" with its subcurrents; the Catholic one; the Liberal or "neutral" one; and the leftist one, which included Socialists and various Communist factions). These developments affected all Jews very much–but especially those in Amsterdam, which was the capital and a major harbor–and Jewish society was deeply involved in all of them. Additionally, the countrywide community structure (with its two traditional wings: the Ashkenazi Nederlandsch-Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap and the Sephardic Portugeesch-Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap), which had started to evolve during the "French period" at the beginning of the 19th century, received its renewed structure in 1870, as a (delayed) result of the introduction of the constitutional principle of separation of church and state some 30 years before.
As the Netherlands did not participate in World War I, it affected Dutch Jewry only partially and indirectly and did not constitute a major turning point in its history, as was the case in most other European countries. Therefore, the period starting in 1870 can be seen as ending only in 1940, with the Nazi German occupation of the country.
DEMOGRAPHY AND OCCUPATIONS
The Jewish population grew during this period from 68,003 in 1869 (1.90% of the general population) to 97,324 in 1889 (2.15%), 106,409 in 1909 (1.81%), and 115,223 in 1920 (1.68). Afterwards a certain decline began: the registered number of Jews (who declared themselves as such) in 1930 was 111,917 (1.41%), a decline that can be attributed to lower birth dates and a growing percentage of intermarriages (in Amsterdam this grew between 1901 and 1934 from 6 to 17 percent, which was still low as compared to other West European countries). However, in the 1930s, mainly due to the emigration of many thousands of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and Austria, of whom about 16,000 remained in the country, the number grew again (for the census carried out in 1941 under the German occupation, see the Holocaust section below). The Jews anticipated general demographical trends in the Netherlands, both regarding the rapid growth during the second half of the 19th century and the declining birth and death rates, which point to their earlier and faster modernization. This included urbanization (in 1930, 80% lived in seven major cities: Rotterdam and the Hague, each with more than 10,000 Jews, and Groningen, Apeldoorn, Arnhem, and Utrecht with 2,500 to 10,000; Amsterdam towered over all other communities and became the main Jewish city, with 44% of all Jews in the country in 1869, amounting to 30,000, about 60%, or 68,758, in 1920 and almost 57% in 1941, or 80,000) and an improvement in their socio-economic position. The developments from the beginning of the 20th century also caused the rapid aging of the community.
As a result of the processes of modernization in general and of industrialization in particular, the occupations of Jews diversified. Jews were overrepresented in commerce, but quite underrepresented in the agrarian sector. They constituted a major part of the diamond trade and industry, and had also a considerable share in the textile industry. The poverty among the Amsterdam Jews declined somewhat from the end of the 1860s as a result of the development of the diamond industry. However, this branch had its ups and downs, affecting a great part of the Jewish population in the city, particularly in the 1930s. Thus, in spite of a general improvement, the Jewish proletariat remained large. Some Jewish families became extremely successful (and wealthy) in some economic sectors: textile (Salomonson, Menko, Spanjaard, Van Gelderen, etc.), retail chains (Cohen, Gerzon, Goudsmit, Isaac), food (Van den Bergh, whose enterprise later developed into the multinational Unilever), Zwanenberg, whose meat factory later evolved into the pharmaceutical giant Organon, and some in banking (Lissa en Kann, Van Nierop, Rosenthal, Teixeira de Mattos, Wertheim, Mannheimer). Jews were also overrepresented
RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENTS AND SECULARIZATION
The secularization of the Jewish community intensified during this period, and this also eased the accompanying process of acculturation. Indeed, this process was more marked in the big cities, but as a result of the urbanization process its impact was decisive. Nevertheless, most of the Jews remained formally attached to the official orthodox community organizations, especially in the communities in the countryside. Together with the relatively low intermarriage rate, a Dutch-Jewish sub-culture thus crystallized. With the relative improvement in the economic situation of many Jews and the emergence of a Jewish bourgeoisie, many communities decided during this period to build new synagogues or renovate them. Some were designed by well-known architects (for instance, in Groningen).
The secularization process affected the tiny Portuguese (Sephardi) community immensely, and it was hence characterized by ongoing stagnation; only the splendor of the past kept the descendants attached to it. However, in the Ashkenazi community, which was also affected by the same developments, some noteworthy facts should be mentioned. First, it succeeded in keeping wealthy secular figures involved in leading positions in the community, on the condition that they would not interfere in religious issues. An illuminating example of this "pact," which would characterize all the communities in the country for decades, was the banker and politician A.C. *Wertheim, who served as vice chairman of the Amsterdam Jewish community between 1878 and 1886, and afterwards, until his death in 1897, as chairman. In the religious sphere, the coming of the Cracow-born and Bonn University graduate Rabbi Joseph Zwi (Hirsch) *Duenner in 1862 was of major importance. He first was appointed as rector of the Nederlandsch-Israëlitisch Seminarium (rabbinical seminary). In this function, where he served until his death in 1911, he reformed the curriculum by introducing an academic approach to talmudic studies. He thus trained and shaped several generations of Dutch rabbis who served throughout the country. After a decade of success in the seminary, he was appointed chief rabbi of Amsterdam and the province of North Holland in 1874. In this position, and because of his religious and general scholarly capacity, he became the unparalleled spokesman of Dutch orthodoxy and Jewry in general. And as there was no official chief rabbi of the country, he was in effect regarded as such. Duenner had been a proto-Zionist since the 1860s, corresponding with such persons as Moses *Hess and R. Zacharias *Frankel in Germany. Upon the establishment of the Zionist movement by Theodor *Herzl in 1897, he welcomed and supported it. His Zionist views legitimized the movement in the Netherlands but were not accepted by most of his students at the seminary. However, a minority of his students became active in *Mizrachi, and played a significant role in it. Most of his children and descendants also became fervent Mizrachists and made aliyah before the Holocaust.
As there was no chief rabbinate for the entire country, the chief rabbis of the different provinces decided at the turn of the century to try to coordinate their views on major issues from time to time. This was done through the unofficial body named Vergadering van Opperrabbijnen, which existed until the deportations of the Jews from the Netherlands in the Holocaust (in 1942).
Reform Judaism, so strongly developing in Central Europe, Britain, and the United States from the mid-19th century, did not find a real echo in the Netherlands until 1930. At the end of the 1920s Lily *Montagu of England, chairperson of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), first approached the industrialist Zwanenberg, and through him contacted several wealthy persons in the Hague. After several speeches on Reform Judaism by visiting leading Reform personalities, a tiny community was established in that city at the end of 1930, headed by Rabbi Meir Lasker, who was chosen and sent by the WUPJ. About a year later a Liberal-Religious Church Organization (i.e., countrywide roof organization) was institutionalized, followed by the establishment of a second community, established in Amsterdam, in January 1932. The appearance of Reform/Liberal Judaism on the Dutch Jewish scene caused much debate, even though the number of adherents of the new stream was at that time actually insignificant. One interesting point was the fact that among the first Reform Judaism activists there were many Zionists. With the influx of German-Jewish refugees from 1933, the movement became rooted, albeit with a clearly German character causing tensions within the movement between the "Dutch" and "Germans". Among the German refugees joining this movement was the Otto *Frank family, whose daughter Anne would become famous for the diary she wrote during the Holocaust.
Jews in politics and Jewish politics: between Socialism and Zionism
While this period witnessed both the emergence of modern antisemitism and vehement outbursts of traditional Jew-hatred in other parts of Europe, the Netherlands was never plagued with these phenomena. Religious anti-Judaism existed, however, as it was part and parcel of Christian thought. It was expressed in some of the literature and also in politics, mostly by the founder of the Anti-Revolutionary (i.e., right-wing Protestant) party, Abraham Kuyper, in the last decades of the 19th century. Fascist and racist antisemitism made its appearance only in the 1930s, and remained marginal. No party proposed the abolition of the emancipation. Nevertheless, the marked segmentation of Dutch society and its relative conservatism perpetuated reservations about the Jews. Consequently, until 1940 no Jews were appointed to national or key representative positions, such as mayors, commissioners of the king, governors of colonies, ambassadors, or consuls. Many other functions also remained closed to Jews. But Jews were members of political parties–from the Liberals to the Social Democrats to the Communists; they were especially strongly
During the first half of the 19th century, Dutch Jewry had developed some strong ties to Palestine. In the beginning of the century the European-wide fundraising organization *Va'ad ha-Pekidim ve-Amarkalim was established by Zwi Hirsch *Lehren, and his sons continued his initiative, playing a major role in the life of the old yishuv. A group of Dutch Jews immigrated to Palestine and established Kolel HoD (Holland-Deutschland). But the influence of the Lehrens gradually declined, both in Palestine and in the Netherlands, from the beginning of the second half of the century. The Ḥovevei Zion movement, whose emergence was strongly linked to the difficult situation of the Jews in czarist Russia, did not win much support in the Netherlands.
But the political Zionist movement, established by Herzl, attracted two high-profile figures: the banker Jacobus *Kann, who attended the first Zionist Congress in Basel in 1879, and Rabbi Duenner, who openly and avidly supported the new movement from its inception and thus made possible its introduction into Dutch Jewish society. The Dutch Zionist Union (NZB) was established in 1899. In the beginning it attempted to attract the Jewish proletariat, but this effort failed almost entirely. In middle-class and certain religious circles success was higher, thus creating an active nucleus. Some of the first- and second-generation of Dutch Zionists played an important role in the world movement and in the new yishuv in Palestine in the first decades of the 20th century, such as Jacobus Kann, Eliezer Siegfried *Hoofïen, Nehemia *de Lieme, and later Fritz (Perez) *Bernstein. The convening of the 1907 Zionist Congress in the Hague, contributed to the growth of the Union. It nevertheless met resistance from many circles. During World War I, a considerable number of East European Jews from Antwerp fled to the country, mainly to Scheveningen. As many among them were Zionists, their presence had an impact on the spread of Zionism in the Netherlands, especially among youngsters. It was in the wake of this and of the Balfour Declaration, which demonstrated the political success of Zionism, that the training of halutzim (first from abroad) at Dutch farms started, and a roof organization for all Zionist youth movements in the country–the Joodse Jeugdfederatie (JJF – Jewish Youth Federation) – was established. The Balfour Declaration also contributed to securing for the NZB an important place in Dutch Jewish organizational life. In the 1930s, in the face of the rise of antisemitism in general and the rise of the Nazis to power in particular, the movement continued to grow. Among its youngsters radicalism grew stronger, and calls for "dissimilation" from identification with the Netherlands and Dutch culture were voiced.
Social care, education, and culture. With modernization and acculturation proceeding, the traditional Jewish local organizations for social care ("Chevres") were transformed into a network of modern philanthropic organizations, many of them countrywide. They included organizations such as the Dutch-Jewish Organization for the Poor (Nederlandsch-Israëlitisch Armbestuur) and homes for the aged; health care institutions, such as the Joodsche Invalide and the Nederlandsch Israëlitisch Ziekenhuis (hospital); institutions for the mentally ill, such as the Apeldoornsche Bosch, etc. In the 1920s a (pro-Zionist) Union of Jewish Women (Joodsche Vrouwenraad) was established, which focused on welfare activities. Many organizations dealt especially with youth. Most of these institutions were supported by wealthy assimilated Jews.
The Jewish school system had deteriorated towards the middle of the 19th century. But the Elementary Education Act of 1857 changed the situation dramatically. The Jewish schools for the poor were abolished, and the children were integrated in the general school system (schools with 50% Jewish students would close on the Jewish Sabbath). Almost all children attending middle-class schools were also integrated in the general schools. Only in Amsterdam did several Jewish schools continue to exist, with a reduced numbers of students. The norm for Jewish children became to attend a local public school and have supplementary Jewish lessons on Sundays. In several communities additional lessons in Judaism were given at other times. The impact of this collapse of Jewish education was a rapid decline in Jewish knowledge among Dutch Jews. In order to counter this development a school network–Jewish Special Education–was established in Amsterdam in 1905. As a result of social awareness, teachers of Jewish studies at elementary and high schools organized in a union called Achawa in 1894.
With the growing number of Jews–secular as well as religious–getting academic training, together with a renewed search for Jewish identity, interest in Jewish studies and especially in Dutch Jewish history developed. An association for Jewish studies was established, and many publications, usually with an emancipatory approach, were published and read by a broad audience. In the second half of the 1920s the weekly De Vrijdagavond served as a spokesman for this trend. One of the outstanding historians of Dutch Jewish history was Sigmund *Seeligmann, who had emigrated from Germany.
The Jewish press played an important role in daily life and in promoting Jewish identity. The major general weeklies were the Amsterdam Nieuw Israëlitisch Weekblad (NIW),
This period is also characterized by the emergence of many Jews active in the fields of literature, theater, cabaret, and the arts. The best-known authors were: the dramatist Herman *Heijermans (1864–1924), who depicted Jewish life in Amsterdam; the poet Jacob Israel de *Haan (1881–1924), a Zionist who emigrated to Palestine and became an ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist and was murdered by an activist of the Haganah; his sister, the prose writer Carry van *Bruggen (1881–1932), who became one of the most influential writers in the Netherlands in the first decades of the 20th century; and the novelist Israel *Querido (1872–1932). There were many performing musicians among the Jews, but the only composer of importance was Sem Dresden (1881–1957). Many more Jews were active in the theater: Esther de Boer van Rijk (1853–1937), Louis de Vries (1971–1940), and the noted cabaret performer Louis Davids (1883–1939). The most famous painter was Jozef *Israëls (1824–1911); others were his son Isaac Israëls (1865–1934) and Martin Monnickendam (1874–1941). The most important sculptor was Joseph Mendes *da Costa (1863–1939), and the best-known architect was Michel *de Klerk (1884–1923), founder of the "Amsterdam School."
Refugees from Nazi Germany and the threat of the 1930s
The rise of Nazism in Germany caused the emigration and flight of tens of thousands of Jews from there. Neighboring Netherlands, with its language close to German, became an important country for the (temporary) stay and for the transit of fleeing German Jews. A total of about 34,000 Jewish refugees arrived in the Netherlands; around 24,000 stayed for more than two weeks, and after the German occupation in 1940 there were still 15,000–16,000 in the country. The rise of Hitler to power and the first anti-Jewish measures prompted the establishment of a Comité voor Bijzondere Joodsche Belangen (CBJB–Committee for Special Jewish Interests) in March 1933, consisting of a number of prestigious figures in the Dutch Jewish community and headed by Abraham *Asscher. The influx of refugees caused the CBJB to establish a subcommittee for Jewish Refugees (JVC), headed by Prof. David *Cohen. The combined CBJB-JVC turned into the most powerful organization in Dutch Jewry on the eve of the Holocaust, which dealt with the Dutch authorities and with international organizations and maintained contact with Jews and non-Jews of all parts of society, monitored political developments, and commanded a large budget. Its leaders and infrastructure became the basis for the Joodsche Raad (Jewish Council) during the Nazi occupation.
On the Eve of the Holocaust
All in all, on the eve of the German invasion in May 1940, Dutch Jewry had generally adapted itself to the Dutch mentality and way of life and saw themselves as full Dutch citizens. However, the percentage of mixed marriages, although growing, was still low as compared with other West European democratic countries; and within the segmented Dutch society Jews had developed a marked subculture. With the influx of Jewish refugees, which were assisted by the Dutch Jewish community, the perception by Gentiles of "the Jews" as a different entity was reemphasized. From the Jewish side, the infusion of Dutch Jewry with new energy linked to general worldwide Jewish crosscurrents and organizations–such as Zionism, which became an important force in the 1920s and 1930s, and Reform Judaism, which emerged in the 1930s–pointed to possible new directions of development.
1940–1945: The Holocaust
The historiography of the Holocaust in the Netherlands has been relatively intensive and comprehensive as compared to almost all countries (except for Germany) and started immediately after the end of World War II. A first comprehensive history (authored by Hans Wielek/Kweksilber) appeared as early as 1947, and another five were written in the following six decades (by Abel Herberg, Jacques Presser, Louis de Jong, Jozeph Michman/Hartog Beem/Dan Michman, and Bob Moore). In addition, many partial studies have been made. The reason for the intensity in research is to be found in the urge to find answers to the puzzling fact that about 102,600 of the 140,000 "full" Jews (according to the German definition) living in the Netherlands at the beginning of the German occupation perished due to the persecutions, i.e., 74%. This is, in relative terms, the highest death toll in any West European Jewish community, including Germany itself. Among the additional 20,000 "half " and "quarter" Jews, most survived.
Whereas the German attitude towards France in the wake of the occupation of Western Europe starting in May 1940 was relatively conciliatory, and whereas policies regarding Belgium were for a long time undecided, the intentions towards the Netherlands were clear from the start. The Dutch were perceived as a German tribe which had taken a separate course for several centuries, but should now be reintegrated into the commonwealth of Germanic tribes. Consequently, Arthur *Seyss-Inquart, an Austrian Nazi, was appointed Reichskommissar for the occupied country, Reichskommissar being in the Nazi vocabulary a title assigned to persons appointed to carry out a special ideological mission. He articulated his fanatic adherence to his mission in a public speech in Amsterdam on March 12, 1941, which was translated into Dutch and disseminated among the population. Also resulting from this was the fact that the position of the SS in the Netherlands was from the beginning much stronger than in other West European countries. The "final solution" of the Jewish question in the Netherlands was implemented by the German authorities–whose heads consisted of Nazi radicals, among whom were several other Austrians in addition to Seyss-Inquart–with much fervor from shortly after the occupation. Before the Nazi decision in the matter of a
ANTI-JEWISH MEASURES BEFORE THE DEPORTATION PERIOD (1940–1942)
The first months following the capitulation of the country (May 14, 1940) passed relatively quietly, although some minor anti-Jewish actions were taken (such as the removal of Jews from anti-aircraft defense units or the first registration of Jews in the province of Zeeland); some Dutch organizations fired Jews on their own initiative. In September 1940 the German authorities, under the direction of Generalkommissar Fritz Schmidt, started the planning of systematic anti-Jewish measures. All Jewish newspapers were closed down. Then, in October–November, all people serving in the civil service (governmental, provincial, municipal, judicial, schools and universities) were ordered to sign an "Aryan declaration" (a statement of not having Jewish parents or grandparents) for themselves and their spouses; Jews were consequently fired (November 4). Both the secretaries-general (the Dutch heads of ministries who had stayed in the country after the flight of the government) and the majority of the Supreme Court decided to accede to this order, which consequently affected even the Jewish president of the Supreme Court, Judge Lodewijk E. *Visser. Protests were limited, and voiced mainly at some universities. At the same time, Jews were ordered to register their enterprises (October 22), making possible "Aryanization" (20,690 enterprises, most of them small, were listed). On this occasion the term "Jew" was legally defined (as in Germany).
On January 10, 1941, registration of all Jews was ordered. Only a small number of Jews did not show up. With the introduction of identification cards, IDs for Jews were stamped with a "J." On March 12, the first of four expropriation and Aryanization decrees was promulgated. The most fateful among them, conceived by the economic mastermind Generalkommissar Hans Fischboeck, was the one enacted in August; it ordered the concentration of all bank accounts of Jews in a special branch of the Jewish Lippmann-Rosenthal ("Liro") bank, which was under German control. The possibility to use the accounts was restricted, and on January 1, 1943, all individual accounts were concentrated in one joint account. From the opening of the bank, the Jewish accounts were used by the German authorities to finance, and thus supervise, the activities of the Joodsche Raad (see below). In addition, Einsatzstab Rosenberg confiscated Jewish private and public libraries, works of art, and later also furniture. From the summer of 1941 Jews were prohibited from visiting parks and other public places, and a daily curfew from 8 P.M. to 6 A.M. was imposed on them; they were allowed to buy in shops only between 3 and 5 P.M. Jews were also removed from all general organizations and societies. In August Generalkommissar Friedrich Wimmer ordered the removal of all Jewish children from the general school system; a Jewish school system was opened under the auspices of the Joodsche Raad.
All these (and more) legal measures were accompanied from time to time by brutal roundups ("razzias") and arrests. On Saturday February 22, in the wake of a violent incident in a Jewish café, in which a Sicherheitpolizei unit was involved, the old Jewish quarter in the center of Amsterdam was closed and around 390 Jewish youngsters were brutally arrested and beaten–all upon the orders of Generalkommissar Hanns Albin Rauter. They were deported shortly afterwards; 50 died in the Buchenwald concentration camp and only one survived, around 340 were sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp, and died there in horrific conditions. In June another 300 were rounded up in Amsterdam, in mid-September more than a 100 in several cities in the provinces, and in November several dozen in other cities in the east of the country. All were sent to Mauthausen and worked to death. As "death notices" were sent from Mauthausen to the families, "Mauthausen" became the most feared symbol of Nazi terror for Jews in the country (it was replaced by "Auschwitz" only after 1945). During this whole period, from time to time Dutch Nazis acted with violence towards Jews and Jewish institutions, such as synagogues. Such clashes with Jews, in the second week of February 1941, which ended with the death of one Dutch Nazi, served as the background for the establishment of the Joodsche Raad.
JOODSCHE RAAD VOOR AMSTERDAM (JR; JEWISH COUNCIL)
The JR, established on February 12, 1941, on the verbal order of Senator Dr. Hans Böhmcker, Seyss-Inquart's personal representative in charge of the city of Amsterdam and of anti-Jewish measures, became a pivotal institution in Jewish life under the German occupation. Its creation was apparently an improvised reaction to the above-mentioned clashes between proletarian Jews and Dutch Nazis several days before. In spite of the abundance of documentary material on the activities of the JR from German, Jewish, and Dutch sources, there is no document from before its establishment regarding any intentions to do so. Its establishment can be seen better in the broader context of the establishment of Judenraete on the initiative of SS officials throughout Europe, as a step in controlling the Jewish community as a collective entity. The authority of the JR was first limited to Amsterdam only, but, during 1941, with the involvement and sanction of the German authorities, it gradually extended to the entire country (through a network of "representatives"); this status was finalized at the end of October with the dissolution of the Jewish Coordination Committee (see below). It was headed by Abraham Asscher and Prof. David Cohen, who had chaired the Committee for Special Jewish Affairs and the Jewish Refugee Committee in the 1930s (see above), and were also active in general and Jewish politics. The JR was supervised by
FORCED LABOR, CONCENTRATION OF JEWS IN AMSTERDAM, DEPORTATIONS
Among the later measures of the pre-deportation period was the recruitment of Jews for forced labor. This was imposed on about 7,500 Jewish males from 85 towns (about 2,500 were later released) from the beginning of 1942, through the JR; they were sent to 42 camps, all over the Netherlands. These people were ready victims at the start of the deportations (the so-called "labor recruitment" – Arbeiteinsatz) "to the east."
Non-Dutch Jews had to leave the coastal region shortly after the occupation. At the end of 1941 Jews from the coastal region could move only to Amsterdam. Later the Jews in other parts of the country were forced to resettle in Amsterdam. Finally, the Jews were forbidden to live in eight of the eleven provinces. The remaining three provinces were restricted on April 13, 1943, leaving Amsterdam the only city for Jews to live in.
The cleansing of the Netherlands from its Jews as part of the Final Solution was planned by Adolf *Eichmann and his staff as part of the joint cleansing of Western European. Planning commenced in April 1942. On April 29 the JR was ordered to distribute a yellow "Jewish Star" to all Jews in the country; this was carried out within a few days in the beginning of May. Deportation orders were sent out, through the JR, in the beginning of July, and a first roundup was carried out on July 14. From then until September 29, 1943, more than 100,000 Jews were deported in about 100 transports, mainly to Auschwitz (60,000) and Sobibor (34,000, all in 1943); only a handful survived. They were sent via the *Westerbork Polizeiliches durchgangslager (Police (Jewish) transit camp), a camp originally established in 1939 by the Dutch government for German Jewish refugees. In the camp certain cultural and religious activities were allowed. Tuesdays, the weekly day on which deportations trains left the camp, were the fearful "judgment days." A tiny group of Prominenten was transported to Theresienstadt (about 5,000). In 1943–44 about 4,000 Jews with "Palestine papers" were sent to the Bergen Belsen "exchange camp" (Austauschlager) for a possible exchange for Germans from abroad. 222 were indeed exchanged in the summer of 1944 for Templars from Palestine; 136 entered Switzerland; 25% of the Bergen Belsen Jews survived. In addition to Westerbork there was KL Herzogenbusch, next to the city of *Vught, a camp built in 1943. It served as a place for forced labor and later also for the concentration of Jews. From June 1943 to June 1944 all 12,000 inmates of Vught were sent to Westerbork.
JEWISH LIFE AND RESPONSES; FLIGHT AND HIDING
At the beginning of the occupation Jews tried to maintain their prewar life. The community organizations continued their existence until the end of the deportations, but from 1941 lost their importance. As pressure on the Jews grew in the fall of 1940, a Joodsche Coordinatie Commissie (Jewish Coordination Committee, JCC), initiated by Zionists, backed by the community organizations, and headed by Lodewijk Visser, was established in December 1940. Its major aims were to advise the Jews politically in the new situation, help those who were in economic distress, and develop cultural activities. It was first helped by the organizational infrastructure of the Committee for Special Jewish Affairs and the Jewish Refugee Committee, headed by David Cohen. With the establishment of the JR less than two months later, the ways of the two organizations parted and later clashed; the JCC was finally dissolved in October 1941. With the growing expropriations, removal from jobs, and other segregation measures, the economic situation of most Jews rapidly deteriorated. Religious life was allowed by the Germans until the end of the deportations. However, ritual slaughter was prohibited, except for poultry. For Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) in 1940 and 1941 etrogim could be imported from Italy and matzot were openly baked by the Hollandia matzah factory.
Dutch Jews have been called "naïve" in their reaction to the deportations; this would account in part of the high percentage of deportees. It is, however, clear that the emancipatory background which caused Dutch Jews not to be rebellious vis-à-vis authorities, the late emergence of a significant Dutch resistance (only in 1943), and lack of knowledge about what was happening in "the East" together shaped the pattern of response of many Jews. Additionally, the enormous concentration of Jews in Amsterdam made it hard for many to find hiding places; in other parts of the country the chances of survival were generally higher. As for knowledge about the murders, it is typical that the JR team in charge of gathering information on the fate of the deportees still reported in January 1943 that apparently many of those sent to Auschwitz
ATTITUDE OF NON-JEWS: PROTESTS, RESCUE, INDIFFERENCE, AND COLLABORATION
In spite of the high percentage of Dutch Jews who perished, the view of the Dutch as having helped the Jews is widespread. Like any historical generalization this perception is a distortion and quite exaggerated–yet not entirely erroneous. With the removal of Jews from the civil service in October 1940, Leiden University law professor R.P. Cleveringa openly delivered a protest lecture, and was later arrested. On February 25–26 a general strike, initiated by the Communist movement but spontaneously supported by many thousands of citizens, was held in Amsterdam and surroundings. The strike was sparked by many weeks of anti-Jewish actions by Dutch Nazis, and by the brutal roundup of February 22. The strike, unparalleled in Europe under the Nazi regime, was suppressed. It became a much-praised symbol, but had no long-term effect on the persecutions. With the beginning of the deportations in July 1942, an unprecedented initiative was undertaken by all Dutch churches to jointly protest against the persecutions during Sunday prayer services. Under the pressure of the occupier the Protestant churches retreated; the Catholics, under the leadership of Archbishop J. de Jong, did not give in and read out the declaration of protest. In reprisal, all Jews converted to Catholicism were arrested and almost all of them sent with the first deportees to Auschwitz. Among them was Edith *Stein (1891–1942). As mentioned, about 28,000 Jews went into hiding, finding shelter with non-Jews–the majority of them Catholics in the southern provinces and Gereformeerde Protestants in Friesland and elsewhere. As hiding could be maintained only with a circle of support, this number signifies that a considerable number of ordinary Dutchmen extended help. On the other hand, about 12,000 "divers" were apprehended, many of them through denunciators. Moreover, it can fairly be said that the efficiency and general disciplined obedience of the Dutch bureaucracy served the Germans in the persecution and deportation operations. For instance, the registration of the Jews in 1941 was carried out with the utmost punctuality. And as recent study has shown, during the Final Solution some sectors, such as the police command and especially the Amsterdam police, collaborated to a considerable extent. The overall picture is therefore varied.
[Dan Michman (2nd ed.)]
Postwar and Contemporary Period
The reintegration of surviving Jews into Dutch society after the devastation of World War II was not without serious problems. Jews who returned from the concentration camps or emerged from their hiding-places were faced with neglect and sometimes outright hostility. In addition, Jews suffered from a trend, supported by the former Resistance movements, to remold them as soon as possible into full Dutchmen without the slightest reference to their Jewishness. This attitude led to the suppression of Jewish identity and also placed Jews in a disadvantageous position, since their situation was the same as that of other Dutchmen. They had lost most of their relatives and all of their possessions and the supportive infrastructure of the Jewish community no longer existed. The Jews received support from international Jewish organizations, such as the American Jewish *Joint Distribution Committee, the *Jewish Agency, and the *Jewish Brigade. In the summer of 1945 the central Jewish weekly, the Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad, resumed publication. Other institutions slowly followed.
Prewar Jewish rights were not automatically restored; for example, a bitter struggle developed over Jewish war orphans who had been in hiding with non-Jewish families. These children were not handed over to the Jewish community as a matter of course. The authorities established a committee with a Christian majority of former rescuers and a minority of Jews. The central issue was not whether it was better for some of these children to remain with their foster families or to return to a Jewish family or orphanage. The main question was who was to decide their fate: the Jewish community–as would have been the case with Jewish orphans in prewar circumstances–or the Christian rescuers. Some 358 children remained in non-Jewish homes, just over a quarter of the cases the committee had to decide upon.
Restitution of buildings and other fixed assets proceeded at a slow pace and while most had been returned to the Jewish community by around 1950, other forms of compensation and restitution came only in stages and over a much longer period of time. The possessions of murdered Jews, who had no heirs, initially were considered Dutch and not specifically Jewish. Insurance companies, banks, and the government itself, after much pressure, made these final restitutions to the Jewish community only around the year 2000.
In 1945 the surviving number of Jews in the Netherlands was estimated at between 28,000 and 35,000, of whom about 8,000 had survived because they were married to non-Jews. In addition to this group there were another 20,000 "people of Jewish descent," persons with one Jewish parent or one Jewish grandparent, who also had had a much better chance to survive. Some of them rejoined the community. The fact that many survivors were married to non-Jews or were children of mixed marriages transformed the community
According to demographic studies in 2000 the total Jewish population in the Netherlands remained at 43,000; 70% had a Jewish mother, and fewer than 25% were affiliated with the official community. In Amsterdam 56% of the Jews still had two Jewish parents, in the Randstad (western part of the Netherlands) 44%, and in the rest of the country 33%. Some 20% of the Jews in the Netherlands come from Israel, and there are several hundreds refugees from Iraq and Iran and the former Soviet Union who were admitted on humanitarian grounds. The community has a low birth rate (1.5) and a disproportionately large number of elderly people, but despite all these factors, the Jewish community of the Netherlands has not declined in absolute numbers since 1945. However, the total population in the Netherlands grew quite dramatically from 9 million in 1945 to over 16 million in 2005.
In general, Jews became well integrated in public life after the war. The relationship between Jews and the Dutch government improved greatly from 1955 on. The 1960s are generally characterized by goodwill, both toward the Jewish community and the state of Israel. A major problem came to the fore in 1972 when the government intended to set free three German war criminals with direct responsibility for the deportation of the Jews. A by-product of the successful protests of the Jewish community was the familiarization of the wider Dutch public with the collective Jewish war trauma and the difficulties some of them had, as a result, even to earn a decent living. A special law came into being, guaranteeing a monthly income to victims of persecution.
In spite of their small numbers, Jews were members of Parliament and several became ministers of government. While before the war Jews did not serve as mayors, after the war several towns, like Amersfoort and Groningen, had Jewish mayors. Amsterdam had four in succession. Jews played an important role as university professors, journalists, artists, and so on. Abel Herzberg, a renowned lawyer and chairman of the Dutch Zionist movement, was a highly respected publicist in non-Jewish circles as well. Henriette *Boas was a prolific writer of articles and letters on the subject of Dutch Jewry and everything connected with Israel. Jaap Meijer was a leading voice in the postwar period castigating the bogus sentiments and pseudo-romanticism in the historical reconstruction
of Dutch Judaism. In the literary works of Judith Herzberg, Gerhard Durlacher, Leon de Winter, Marga Minco, and Arnon Grunberg, the Holocaust is often a painful source of inspiration.
Two major changes had an impact on the relationship of the Jews with Dutch society since the 1970s. Firstly, the Netherlands moved from a clear pro-Israel stand to a political position that fell into line with the more critical European one. A second major change was the growth of a considerable Muslim community in the Netherlands. Jews no longer are the only non-Christian minority group. In spite of often opposed views of the Middle East conflict, the Jewish and the Muslim communities actively seek to build a positive mutual relationship. Christian denominations which had shown much interest in their Jewish roots and in the land of Israel in the first decades after World War II, became more critical, but at the same time lost much of their relevance as a result of secularization. Jewish-Christian dialogue, the Protestant-oriented Counsel of Jews and Christians and the Catholic Counsel for Church and Israel, have contributed to a better understanding of Judaism.
The Jewish community has undergone many changes. In 1950 the dominant Ashkenazi Orthodox Nederlands Israelietisch Kerkgenootschap (NIK) had
Between 1945 and 2000, the membership of the Ashkenazi Orthodox community dwindled to fewer than 5,000 Jews in the whole country and the NIK lost its dominant position. Until the 1970s the character of Orthodox Judaism under the leadership of Chief Rabbi Aron Schuster hardly changed. Schuster was supported by Rabbi Vorst in Rotterdam and Rabbi Berlinger in Utrecht. Eli Berlinger was rabbi for most of the provinces and caused many Jews from smaller places to move to Israel. Since the 1970s, rabbis from abroad, such as Rabbi Meir Just from Hungary, and the Lubavitch movement had a significant impact on the community. All were more rigorous in their interpretation of the halakhah and changed local traditions. This led to a partial estrangement of the original Dutch membership. In 2005, this tendency resulted in the establishment of the first Conservative congregation, which–in Weesp and Almere together–started off with some 80 members. The Portuguese community is also still in existence but its numbers are very small: in 1945 there were about 800 Portuguese Jews left; in 2005 some 450 members were counted.
The only growing community after the war was the Union of Liberal Religious Jews in the Netherlands, established in 1931, and a member of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Only in Amsterdam did a small community of some 130 Liberal Jews–mainly German refugees–survive the war. During its first 10 years the congregation in danger of disappearing, until Dutch-born Rabbi Jacob *Soetendorp was named to lead it in 1954. Under his leadership, together with Dr. Maurits *Goudeket and Robert *Levisson, the community added dozens of families to its ranks every year. New congregations were established in The Hague, Rotterdam, and Arnhem. Around 1970 a younger generation, represented by David Lilienthal and Awraham Soetendorp, took over as rabbis of Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam, followed by Rabbi Edward van Voolen in Arnhem in 1978. The Progressive community continued to grow and in 2000 it had a membership of well over 3,000, distributed in nine congregations throughout the country. The community has its own rabbinical seminary.
Outside the religious community–comprising only 20% of the total Jewish population–Joods Maatschappelijk Werk (Jewish Social Work, JMW), undertook much activity. JMW was established in 1946 and all Jewish organizations are represented in it. With its neutral and non-religious character, JMW was able to reach Jews who had lost formal contact with the community. JMW also cared of the elderly and many people who suffered from war trauma. In the days of the establishment of the State of Israel Zionism was very strong: the Dutch Zionist Union (NZB) had a membership of 3,232 in 1948, and nearly all other Jews supported Zionism without formal membership. The NZB reestablished its journal De Joodse Wachter ("The Jewish Guardian"). Po'alei Zion was its largest faction, but when most members left for Israel the group declined. During the 1980s ARZA, the new Zionist faction of the Movement for Progressive Judaism, dominated the NZB as part of a worldwide struggle for equal rights for Progressive Jews in Israel. Later on the NZB was reorganized in order to achieve greater efficiency and was renamed the Federation of Netherlands Zionists (FNZ), but the organization barely continued to exist. The need to deal with growing anti-Israel sentiments in the Dutch media and public opinion since the early 1970s led to the establishment of CIDI, the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel. On the board of this organization all streams of Judaism are represented, and CIDI developed into a professional public relations office working on behalf of the organized Jewish community. WIZO is the oldest functioning network for Jewish women in the Netherlands and although both the Orthodox and the Progressive Jewish community developed their own women's networks, WIZO remained very popular. One of its strongest features is that it is open to both religious and non-religious women alike.
Although on an administrative and public relations level the Orthodox and Liberal Jewish communities worked well together, the establishment of an umbrella organization comparable to the Board of Deputies in England or the CRIF in France did not materialize for a long time in the Netherlands. The Orthodox continued to claim that they were the only representative body of the Jews. In the end, however, numerical developments in the religious community shaped a new reality. In 1997, the CJO (or CJOEB: Central Committee of Jewish Organizations–External Affairs) was founded in which the religious, social, and political organizations of the community cooperate.
Most Jews are not connected with the traditional community. For those who still feel a need for Jewish contacts, informal frameworks came into being, like social cafés and meeting groups. Israelis also have their own social activities. Loneliness is a large problem in the community, since most people still feel the absence of relatives and normal family life as a result of the Holocaust. Visits to the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam and the annual Yom Havoetbal (Jewish Soccer Day) are the most popular expressions of identification. The Holocaust plays a major role in both Jewish and national consciousness: the central Jewish memorial sites are the Hollandse Schouwburg in Amsterdam, the Westerbork
In the first decades after the war synagogues were sold and turned into churches, shops, garages, and laundries. Hartog Beem, who knew the prewar communities from his own vivid experiences, was for some time the only individual who wrote extensively on earlier Jewish life in provincial towns and villages. He also documented the use of Yiddish in the Dutch language. During the late 1970s and early 1980s the tendency to close synagogues was reversed by a growing interest among Jews and non-Jews in the visible history of their local Jewish communities. New studies were published with detailed descriptions and efforts were made to restore Jewish cemeteries and synagogues. Restored synagogues became museums or were given other useful purposes in memory of the destroyed communities. In several cases synagogues returned to their previous use and became houses of prayer again, mostly for Progressive Jewish congregations. This happened in The Hague with the ancient Portuguese synagogue and also with the Ashkenazi synagogues of Tilburg and Haaksbergen. The synagogue of Weesp is in use by the first Conservative congregation in the Netherlands.
In academic and archival institutions the growing interest in the communities aside from Amsterdam resulted in some large-scale projects, such as in the province of Groningen, where the histories of all communities were written up and all tombstones were photographed and described. The richestcenter of Jewish studies in the Netherlands is no doubt Amsterdam, but a newly established independent institute of Jewish education is Crescas, which organizes courses in all parts of the Netherlands in an effort to strengthen Jewish identity also outside of Amsterdam.
[Wout J. van Bekkum and
Chaya Brasz (2nd ed.)]
Relations with Israel
A long-standing history of cooperation links the Jewish people to the Dutch, from the period of the "Golden Age" of Dutch Jewry after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal until the demonstrations of support and acts of rescue during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. On Nov. 29, 1947, the Netherlands voted in favor of the UN plan to partition Palestine, and thus for the establishment of a Jewish state, and soon afterward officially recognized the new State of Israel. Formal diplomatic relations were established on the ambassadorial level, with Holland being the first country to set up its diplomatic representation in Jerusalem. The Netherlands supported Israel in the United Nations as well as in other international frameworks on a number of occasions; supported Israel against the Arab boycott and Arab aggression; and played a role in the struggle for persecuted Jews, especially Jews in the Soviet Union and the Arab countries. It was also Israel's major aid in its efforts to establish ties with the European Economic Community. When the Soviet Union severed diplomatic relations with Israel in 1953, the Netherlands represented Israel's interests in the U.S.S.R. and contributed to the resumption of diplomatic ties between the two states. It again assumed this role when the U.S.S.R. and other Communist states broke diplomatic relations with Israel after the Six-Day War (1967); subsequently Israel's interests in the U.S.S.R. and Poland were represented by Holland.
Trade relations between the two countries reached $75,000,000 in 1966 and rose to $84,000,000 by 1968, with Dutch exports to Israel somewhat larger than Israel exports to Holland. Tourism from Holland to Israel also rose, with 7,983 tourists in 1966, 9,308 in 1967, and 14,047 in 1968. The high points in cultural exchanges were the arrangement of a Dutch art exhibit in Israel and an exhibit from the Land of the Bible and appearances of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Holland. Every year an Israel delegation participated in the popular march in Nijmegen, and a Dutch delegation took part in the yearly marches that take place in Israel, which are modeled on the Dutch ones. Prime ministers, foreign ministers, and other members of the government and of parliament of the two countries carried out mutual visits.
Netherlands governments in various coalitions continued to support Israel in the immediate post–Six-Day War period. On several occasions the Netherlands succeeded in having a UN anti-Israel draft resolution toned down. In the UN General Assembly Dec. 4, 1985, it was one of 16 countries voting against a resolution demanding unconditional withdrawal by Israel from all Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967. It was also among the 22 countries voting against a resolution calling the Israel decision of Dec. 1981 to introduce Israel laws and jurisdiction and Israeli administration into the Golan Heights an act of aggression and demanding a military, economic, diplomatic, and cultural boycott of Israel. On the other hand, it voted in favor of a resolution calling the incorporation by Israel of Jerusalem unlawful. The Dutch government criticized Israel for its bombardment of PLO headquarters in Tunisia.
The Netherlands withheld diplomatic recognition of the PLO and continued to limit the status of the Palestinian office in The Hague, which was opened in July 1983, to that of an Information Office.
In July 1983 the government, with the full approval of Parliament, decided to withdraw the Dutch Unifil battalion from South Lebanon as from October 19, 1983, as it could no longer play a useful role there.
The Netherlands continued to represent Israel's interests in Moscow and to mediate in the applications for visas to Israel by Soviet Jews until Israel was able to open its own consulate in Moscow.
In the Gulf War the Netherlands fully supported the American stand against Iraq and participated in the Allied forces, be it in a modest way.
At the end of January 1991 the entire Second Chamber of Parliament, with the exception of a few members of the
The first Intifada, from its start, received very great attention in the Dutch news media. The emphasis was often on the "cruelty" of the Israeli soldiers firing at young children who merely threw stones. Among the organizations showing great sympathy for the Palestinians was the Netherlands Council of Churches (mainly Protestant) and the Dutch branch of the Roman Catholic "Pax Christi."
Two small extreme left-wing parties, the PRP (Political Radical Party) and the PSP (Pacifist Socialist Party), often publicly criticized Israel. In 1987, together with the small Communist Party (CPN), they merged into the Green Left which often criticized Israel, as did some members of the Labor left wing.
On the second anniversary of the outbreak of the intifada the PLO representative in The Hague, Afif Safieh, organized a large-scale meeting, to which he invited representatives of all the major parties as speakers, but all declined. Nor was any official representative of the Foreign Ministry present. The meeting was addressed by the chairman of the Netherlands Council of Churches, Prof. Dirk C. Mulder.
The Israel-Palestine peace talks in Madrid had originally been scheduled to take place in The Hague, but Syria had objected for a number of reasons. The Hague was thus dropped, much to the relief of the Dutch authorities, in view of the vast organizational and security problems it would have caused.
No Palestinian terrorist attacks against Jewish persons or property took place throughout the decade under review.
On January 19–21, 1986, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres paid an official visit to Holland, where he also met Spanish premier, Felipe Gonzalez.
The ICN or Israel Committee Netherlands, which consists of orthodox Protestants, is fully pro-Israel and every year from 1980 sent tens of thousand of flower bulbs to Israel to adorn its public gardens.
The Collective Israel Actie (United Israel Appeal) in 1992 raised some F 9,240,000, of which F 6,260,000 came from the campaign itself and some F 3,000,000 from bequests. This was a reduction of F 2,500,000 against 1991, but F 2,500,000 more than in 1989. In contrast to the situation in the 1950s and 1960s, many Israeli institutions now freely solicit funds in Holland.
The disaster of the El Al Boeing 747 cargo aircraft which crashed into two tall apartment buildings in the Bijlmer district of southeastern Amsterdam on Oct. 4, 1992, made a deep impression. In addition to the three Israeli crew members and one Israeli woman passenger, 43 local residents were killed and four seriously wounded, nearly all of them recent immigrants from Third World countries. In all, 80 apartments were destroyed and 160 others were no longer safe for habitation. The ultimate blame for the disaster was eventually placed upon the Boeing company.
On the whole, beginning in the 1970s, the Netherlands has come closer to the more critical attitude of the European community toward Israel, but it still remains a very friendly nation. In 2004, exports to the Netherlands totaled $1.23 billion while imports reached $1.48 billion.
For the musical tradition of Jews in the Netherlands see *Amsterdam.
GENERAL AND HISTORICAL: Brugmans-Frank; M.H. Gans, Memorboeck (1971); ESN; Graetz, Hist, index; J. Michman (ed.), Dutch Jewish History (1982–), 3 vols. (as of 2006); S. Seeligman, De Emancipatie der Joden in Nederland (1918); S. van Praag, De West-Joden en hun letterkunde (1926); H. Poppers, De Joden in Overijssel (1926); E. Boekman, Demografie van de Joden in Nederland (1936); H.I. Bloom, Economic Activities of the Jews of Amsterdam in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (1937, repr. 1969); H. Beem, De verdwenen mediene (1950); J. Stengers, Les juifs dans les Pays-Bas au moyen âge (1950); J. Melkman, David Franco Mendes (1951); D. Cohen, Zwervend en dolend (1955); M.E. Bolle, De opheffing van de autonomie der kehilloth (Joodse gemeenten) in Nederland, 1796 (1960); L. Finkelstein (ed.), The Jews, 2 vols. (19603), index; J. Meijer, Het Jonas Daniël Meijerplein (1961); idem, Erfenis der emancipatie: het Nederlandse Jodendom in de eerste helft van de 19e eeuw (1963); idem, Zij lieten hun sporen achter (1964); I. Lipschits, Honderd jaar het Nieuw Israëlietisch Weekblad, 1865–1965 (1966); C. Reijnders, Van "Joodsche natiën? tot Joodse Nederlanders (1969); Shunami, Bibl, index. HOLOCAUST PERIOD: W. Warmbrunn, The Dutch under German Occupation 1940–1945 (1963); R. Hilberg, Destruction of the European Jews (1961), 365–81; J. Presser, Destruction of the Dutch Jews (1969); idem, Ondergang, 2 vols. (1965); A.J. Herzberg, Kroniek der Jodenvervolging (1949–54); De Jong, in: Yad Vashem Studies, 7 (1968), 39–55; P. Mechanicus, In Depot, Dagboek uit Westerbork (1964); H.G. Adler, Theresienstadt (Ger., 1960); E. Kolb, Bergen-Belsen (Ger., 1962). CONTEMPORARY PERIOD: JJSO, 3 (1961), 195–242; 4 (1962), 47–71; H. Boas, ibid., 5 (1963), 55–83; J. Melkman, Geliefde vijand (1964); M. Snijders, Joden van Amsterdam (1958); S. Wijnberg, De Joden in Amsterdam (1967); A. Vedder et al., De Joden in Nederland na de tweede wereldoorlog (1960). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Studia Rosenthaliana, 1–76 (1967–2005); M.H. Gans, Memorbook (1977); J. Michman (ed.), Dutch Jewish History, vols. 1–3 (1984–93); B. Moore, Victims and Survivors (1997); J. Michman, H. Beem, and D. Michman, Pinkas. Geschiedenis van de joodse gemeenschap in Nederland (1999); Y. Kaplan and C. Brasz, Dutch Jews as Perceived by Themselves and Others (2001); J.Ch Blom, R.G. Fuks-Mansfeld, and I. Schöffer (eds.), The History of the Jews in The Netherlands (2002); J. Michman and B.J. Flam, Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations: The Netherlands, 2 vols. (2004).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.