Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Anne Frank Effect and the Truth About the Dutch

Because of Anne Frank's Diary, there's a general impression that the Dutch did what they could to protect their Jews from the Nazis. The truth is vastly different, and it's a truth that that country has yet to come to terms with:
Seventy-five percent of Dutch Jews were murdered by the Nazis. It is the largest number of Jews, proportionally, in any country of occupied Europe. More Dutch Jews were exterminated than Jews from other countries. 
Two outstanding articles in the 1998 volume of The Netherlands’ Journal of Social Sciences are dedicated to the persecution of Jews in Holland during and after the war by non-Jewish Dutch citizens and by the municipal governments in major Dutch cities. 
Professors Pim Griffigen and Ron Zeller of the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation published an informative article entitled “The Persecution of the Jews: Comparing Belgium and the Netherlands”. Their statistics show a marked difference of the treatment of Jews in both countries. 
Belgium emerged as being the kindest of the two nations to their Jewish citizens. Many Belgian Christians hid Jews or placed them in Christian homes for the duration of the war. Very few Belgians were informers to the Gestapo concerning who was a Jew and where Jews could be found. 
Quite the contrary to Holland whose national police fully collaborated with the occupying authorities and searched out hidden Jews throughout the country, turning them over to the Germans for deportation and extermination. 
A lengthy and historically enlightening article, “Persecution Remembered: the Construction of a National Trauma”, was published by Professor Ido De Haan of the history faculty of the University of Amsterdam. 
He describes, page after page, the numbers of Jews who were arrested by Dutch police, the number of Dutch informers to the Gestapo, the bitter treatment of Jews fleeing from their homes to seek shelter among non-Jewish families, the small number of Dutch Christians who risked their own lives to save Jews, and the terrible treatment given to surviving Jews who returned to Holland after the war...
In light of the facts, a good argument could be made that those who have benefited the most from the publication of Anne's diary aren't the Jews, it's the Dutch. And an unintended consequence of the diary's popularity is that it has enabled them to maintain an aura of smugness as they evade their dreadful wartime and post-war record vis-à-vis the Jews.

1 comment:

Michael Laven said...

Scaramouche, is it possible that a disproportionate number of Dutch people who did help ended up as immigrants to Canada? I know of two such families, not related, that I happened on in the course of my work (concerning other matters). My father was an Allied airman, shot down over Holland, who received help to escape to Gibraltar.

Now, here's a thought. Canada liberated the Low Countries, and it was through association with the Canadians that many Dutch decided to emigrate. But it occurs to me just now, who would be most likely to make the acquaintance of Allied liberators? Who would be most likely to avoid them?

The impression I had that most Dutch people helped Jews might be honestly gained, but I might have encountered a non-representative group.