Jewish Behavior During the German Occupation of The Netherlands

Business as usual with the Germans

On March 24 1933 the British newspaper Daily Express headlined “Judea declares war on Germany”. Despite the numerous calls for a boycott, Jews generally continued to do business with Germany, even during the war. Even Otto Frank, the father of the famous diarist Anne Frank, engaged in providing supplies to the German Wehrmacht after the occupation of Holland in May 1940. Not only relatively small businessmen engaged in trade with the German occupiers, but also the government, most notably secretary-general Hans Hirschfeld.

Hans Max Hirschfeld, born into a Jewish-German business-family, began his career as a civil servant in the department of Labour, Trade and Industry, specializing in relations with Germany. Despite the regime-change in Germany in 1933 Hirschfeld continued to focus on Germany as the premier business partner of Holland. His Jewish background did not prevent him from conducting business as usual: “Beyond the ministerial directorates begins the madness.

After the German occupation of Holland, Hirschfeld rose to the position of secretary-general of Trade, Industry and Shipping (later renamed: Economic Affairs). The Germans did not remove him despite being half-Jewish, but kept him at this key post during the entire war. The Dutch historian Van der Zwan wrote in his biography about him (Under the Spell of Power, Amsterdam 2004) that Hirschfeld was the willing helper of the Germans and was instrumental of merging Holland’s economy into the German war effort.

The fact that Hirschfeld did nothing notable to save Dutch Jews from deportation to Poland has been harshly criticized by Dr. Loe de Jong, the Dutch Jew who wrote the official history of Holland during World War II. But this is also true about the wartime leadership of the Jewish community, the so-called Jewish Council.

Collaboration with the Germans

The Jewish Council was instituted after a violent uprising in a Jewish neighbourhood, followed by a general strike in Amsterdam in February, 1941. The Germans wanted to have a vehicle through which they could communicate their wishes to the Jewish community. The Jewish Council was composed of the Jewish social and financial elite and enjoyed special privileges. This caused resentment among fellow Jews.

One of the privileges of the Jewish Council was that they were exempted from deportation to Poland; indeed the Council was assigned the job of drawing up the list of those who were to be deported. Later, fellow Jews accused the Council of deporting the mass of Jewish paupers from the slums of Amsterdam and preserving the elite. Meanwhile the Jewish Council implemented the full segregation of the Jewish community in Holland. All Jews in Holland were registered (140,552 of them Jews, 14,549 half-Jews and 5,719 quarter-Jews), and the Council rigorously enforced the German order that Jews wear yellow badges in the form of the Star of David.

The Jewish Council constantly admonished Jews to comply with German orders, no matter how horrible and humiliating they may be. The Council worked only to save their own people: those of a similar class, education and economic background. They remained at the helm during the deportations to save the “most valuable elite” for the “future interest” of the Jewish community. The working class Jews, the proletariat, were the first to be shipped off to the death camps. (“Holocaust in Holland: Jewish-Nazi Collaboration in Amsterdam”)

The collaboration between the German authorities and the Jewish Council was so smooth that, in the words of one historian, “deportation of the Jews in the Netherlands achieved a greater measure of perfection and efficiency than anywhere else in occupied Europe” (see here).  This caused a great controversy after the war, shown by a study published by Yad Vashem — “The Controversy Surrounding the Jewish Council of Amsterdam.” Patterns of Jewish Leadership in Nazi Europe 1933–1945. Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1979. The leaders of the Jewish Council, Abraham Aasche and David Cohen, were eventually exonerated because they claimed that they were under the impression that the camps would be humanely run work camps.

In order to wipe out the memory of the complicity of their own kind, Jews started to build the myth that the Dutch were responsible for the high number of deported Jews during the war. A good example is this piece by the Jewish publicist Max Pam from 2002, which is titled: “Responsibility for the the largest number of deported Jews in Europe also belongs to the Dutch.” Also Manfred Gerstenfeld beat the same drum by stating that the Dutch authorities did ‘too little’ to save the Jews, while he is silent about the role of the Jewish Council in this process.


Jews were fearful of National-Socialism, and business people like Otto Frank fled Germany for this reason. This did not stop them from continuing doing business with resurgent Germany and even engaging in war profiteering. Although Hirschfeld was certainly not typical of Jewish attitudes towards National Socialist Germany, it shows that for practical reasons some Jews went to great lengths to share in the fruits of German victory.

The willingness of the Jewish elite in Holland to collaborate with the Germans led to the deportation of the mass of Jews, which has caused embarrassment right into the heart of the Holocaust cult – Yad Vashem. If Jews were highly complicit in the smooth deportation of their own kind to save their own skin, what will be left of Jewish victimhood and the subsequent fostering of collective guilt among the Dutch Goyim?

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