Communists Call For Strike in Amsterdam in Response
to Persecution of the Jews
(February 25, 1941)
In the aftermath of clashes between Dutch
Nazis and Jews in early February; the formation of the Amsterdam Jewish
Council, the establishment of the display ghetto in central
Amsterdam, where much of the Jewish proletariat lived; and an ostentatious
and brutal operation on Saturday and Sunday, February 22-23, 1941
in which nearly 400 Jews were rounded up, tortured publicly in the central
square (surrounded by synagogues), and then sent to concentration
camps the public climate was extremely grim, especially in
Amsterdam and the vicinity. This made the public receptive to urgings
from the Dutch Communist Party (which sought an active role in municipal
public affairs because the Molotov-Ribbentrop
pact had cost the Communists international prestige) to strike in
protest against the German behavior. On February 25-26, a general strike
erupted in and around Amsterdam. The Germans, although taken by surprise,
quelled the strike quickly and did not modify their policies toward
the Jews. On the one hand, the February strike was the only
public protest on behalf of the Jews in all of Europe during the Nazi
era. On the other hand, it encouraged the Jews to expect extensive public
support then and even later on, when the persecution became fiercer,
and these expectations were dashed. The document below is a Communist
Party poster urging the public to strike.
Protest against the horrible persecutions of the Jews!
During the recent Saturday, Sunday, and Monday the Nazis behaved like
beasts in neighborhoods with Jewish inhabitants.
Hundreds of fully armed members of the Gruene Feldpolizei [Military
Police] suddenly appeared in the old city and in other neighborhoods
and attacked helpless men, women, and children, while yelling, shouting,
cursing, and shooting.
Hundreds of Jewish youngsters were seized in the streets, thrown into
police cars, and sent to an unknown place of horrors.
This is the Nazi revenge of the brave self-defense [by Jews] that, two
weeks ago, caused two Nazi riot heroes to retreat and the
killing as a terrorist of the Fascist bandit Koot.
This is the ugly answer to the anger of the masses and the massive protest
demonstration of the citizens of Amsterdam against the pogrom carried
out against the Jews.
That is mainly the result of the great-capitalist mediation
of Asscher, [Rabbi] Sarlovis, and Cohen, who, in their servility, agreed
to shoulder the Jews' guilt and attempted to defeat the continued adoption
of defensive measures in the struggle, arguing that calm
will now be restored. These great capitalists are afraid that a ransom
will be imposed, and their money is dearer to them than the Jewish workers!
The SS and the military police [Grane Feldpolizei], whom even the German
soldiers loathe, are carrying out this dirty work with genuine pleasure.
Here the dregs and the chaff of the German people are at work. The stupid
and lowly Dutch Nazis, the dregs of our people, who absented themselves
in this case, should learn from this rabble how to impose terror on
the working masses.
These riots against the Jews represent an attack on all the laboring
They constitute the beginning of harsher enslavement and terrorism!!!
They cannot but pave the way for the usurpation of rule by [Anton Adriaan]
Mussert, whom every Dutchman despises!!!
Proletarian residents of Amsterdam, will you put up with this?
No, a thousand times no!!!
Are you able and willing to prevent this disgusting terror in the future?
The metalworkers in Amsterdam have shown the way. They struck in unison
against their forced transport to Germany, and the coercive power of
the German military administration had to contend with this resistance!
In one day, the metalworkers triumphed!!
So, do not let the jackboot of the German soldier intimidate you!
Organize protest strikes in all factories!!
Join ranks to fight against this terrorism!!
Demand the immediate liberation of the interned Jews!!
Demand the disbanding of the Dutch Fascist terror groups!!!
Organize self-defense in factories and neighborhoods!!
Show your solidarity with the Jewish segment of the proletariat, which
has been so badly mistreated!!
Spare the Jewish children from the terror of the Nazi atrocities; take
them in with your families!!!
Be aware of the tremendous might of your unified action!!!
It is much greater than that of the German military occupation! There's
no doubt that many German proletarian soldiers support your resistance!!!
Strike!! Strike!! Strike!!!
Shut down all of Amsterdam for one dayshipyards, factories, shops,
offices, banks, city hall, and enterprise works!!
Then the German occupier will have to retreat! You will have dealt a
blow to the monstrous scheme to bring Mussert to power! You will have
thwarted the continued plunder of our land! You will have made it possible
to oust Woudenberg from the trade union!!!
Demand increases in wage and welfare benefits everywhere!!
Be united!! Be brave!!
Stiffen your spine and fight to deliberate our country!!!!...
Source: L. De Jong, "Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
in de Tweede Wereldoorlog," vol. 4, s Gravenhage, 1972, illustration
between pp. 920-921.
Vashem - Eclipse of Humanity