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Order Concerning the Establishment of the Jewish Council for Amsterdam

After several months of escalating tension between the Dutch population and the German occupation authorities and the collaborators in the Dutch Nazi and Fascist movements (in the winter of 1940-1941), clashes erupted in Amsterdam between members of the WA, the militia of the Dutch National-Socialist Movement (NSB), and Jews. In the aftermath of these clashes (February 8-11, 1941), an order was issued to establish a Joodsche Raad (Jewish Council) in Amsterdam. The following document is the surviving German version of a meeting between the German governor of Amsterdam and Jewish leaders whom the authorities had summoned. The document shows that the method used in establishing the council in Amsterdam resembled that employed in Poland in 1939-1940: an oral instruction by the local German commander in the presence of a representative of the security police, making contact with Jewish community leaders and rabbis, a Judenrat with local powers only, and the duty to maintain public order. The Amsterdam council was the first panel that followed this pattern in Western Europe, and throughout its existence it was different in nature from the imposed agencies established in Belgium and France in late 1941.


Negotiation at 16.30, on 12 February 1941, at the office

Present: The representative of the Reichskommissar for the city of Amsterdam, Senator Dr. Boehmcker

Detective superintendent SS-Sturmhauptfuehrer Dietjes, standing in for the absent Head of the BdS Branch [Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei] [Commander of the Security Police]

Deputy General Secretary of the Amsterdam Municipality, Mr. Franken

Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands - Jewish Hoofd Synagogue [Nederlandsch-Israelitische Hoofdsynagogue], L. H. Sarlouis

Chairman of the Community Council [Kerkeraad] of the same religious community, A. Ascher, merchant

Rabbi of the Portuguese-Jewish Community [Portugeesch-Israelitische Gemeente], M. M. Frances

Senator Dr. Boehmcker explained the following:


For the restoration and preservation of order, the so-called old Jewish quarter was closed off entirely at 6 o'clock in the morning, on 12 February 1941. Alleviation of in- and outgoing traffic will only be made when law and order [Ruhe] in the Jewish quarter are restored. In future, Party members in uniform [Parteiuniformierte] may not enter the Jewish quarter. All non-Jewish inhabitants will be resettled outside the Jewish quarter as soon as possible.

In order that there may be a responsible representation for all Jews of Amsterdam, a Jewish Council [Judenrat] will have to be formed. The Jews present were asked to form a Jewish Council.

Merchant Ascher explained, after consultation with the two rabbis, that he, together with Prof. Cohen, would assume chairmanship of the Jewish Council and would nominate its members together with the two rabbis.

Senator Dr. Boehmcker explained to Merchant Ascher:

The Jewish Council, and especially the two chairmen, are responsible for the immediate restoration of law and order in the Jewish quarter and the prevention of riots.

Therefore, secondly, it is necessary that the chairmen of the Jewish Council immediately call upon [the inhabitants, D.S.] to hand over any clubs, thrust weapons, and firearms to the Dutch police stations in the Jewish quarter. It should be considered a great concession that this way of handing over the weapons was chosen instead of a police search of the Jewish quarter and punishment of those who illegally owned weapons. It is expected that the weapons be handed over immediately and completely.

The Jewish Council should immediately issue special identity cards [Ausweis] to all those Jews who in future would want to enter the Jewish quarter. Concerning the content and form of the identity cards, further instructions would be given later. After the issuing of identity cards, the Jewish quarter would only be accessible to owners of identity cards. [...]1

Source: Boehmcker, H. to Seyss-Inquart, A. 17 Febuary, 1941, appendix: “Vermerk. Verhanlung am 12, Februar 1941 16.30 in der Dienststelle,” “Praesidial - Abteilung” Archive, 10.22 - Netherlands (State Institute for War Documentation, Amsterdam).

Source: Yad Vashem