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First Meeting of the Amsterdam Jewish Council

After the order to establish the Amsterdam Jewish Council was given, David Cohen, professor of history and an active Zionist on behalf of refugees, and Abraham Asscher, a diamantaire and the head of the Ashkenazi kehillah (community administration) in Amsterdam contacted some twenty people—mostly members of the Amsterdam Jewish bourgeoisie—and asked them to join the council. The inaugural meeting took place on the morning of February 13. In the course of the meeting, the minutes of which are presented here, the members indicate what they thought of their duties as the council began its tenure .

Communications and decisions at the meeting of Thursday morning, 13 February 1941, at the office at Tolstraat 127-129 (at 11 oclock).

Present were Messrs:

A. Asscher and Prof. Dr. D. Cohen, Chairmen. Designated to maintain regular contacts with the German authorities.
J. Arons, physician.
Attorney N. Beneditty
Prof. Lawyer H. Frijda
Attorney Alb. B. Gomperts
I. de Haan
A. de Hoop
Attorney M.L. Kan
Attorney I. Kisch
A. Krouwer
Attorney S.J. van Lier
A.J. Mendes da Costa
Prof. Dr. L.J. Palache
Attorney Dr. M.I. Prins
A. Quiros
Chief Rabbi [of Amsterdam] L.H. Sarlovis
Dr. D.M. Sluys
A. Soep Bzn
Is. Voet

The chairman [A. Asscher] opens the meeting and presents a survey of the events of the recent days, including his meeting (together with Chief Rabbi Sarlovis and Rabbi Frances) at the office of the Beauftragte des Reichskommissars for the City of Amsterdam, about which more details were communicated in the “Communications and Decisions” of the preparing meeting, which was held on Wednesday evening 12 February.

The Chairman focuses especially on the order to form a Committee of 15-20 Jews, which is the reason for the convening of all those present. He calls upon all those present to join [the council].

It turns out, that all except for Prof. Frijda, are ready to do this; some making the reservation of taking several hours before deciding (the decision later on was positive).

Afterwards a changing of views concerning the nature of such a Committee takes place; it is agreed upon, that it will mainly have an executive and transmitting function, but that it can not be responsible for the orders it will have to transmit, and—on the other hand—that it will not proceed so far as to accept orders which are not honourable for the Jews.

As for the name, in the meantime [those present] think of: REPRESENTATIVE COMMITTEE FOR THE JEWS OF AMSTERDAM. The fact of its establishment will also be communicated to the municipal board of Amsterdam; and—according to the order—to the Beauftragte [Dr. Boehmcker].

It is necessary to form a limited executive committee of the inhabitants of the [Jewish] quarter, about which Mr. Quires will be consulted.

It is pointed out, that it is difficult to reach [the wide population of] the Jews without having a decent printed mouthpiece. Messrs Asscher and Cohen are requested to mention this in one of the first forthcoming meetings with the Beauftragte, paying attention to the fact that a mouthpiece, which will be valued by the inhabitants of the neighborhood as being contemptible, will not be read by them and will thus not accomplish its goals.

After having urged [those who are present] in their function as members of the Committee to attend the mass-meeting of the inhabitants of the neighborhood (in the Diamond-Exchange), the Chairman closes the meeting.

Source: Archives of the Jewish Council, Protocols, 13 February 1941, p. 1, the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation, Amsterdam.

Source: Yad Vashem