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This Cannot Happen Here

This Cannot Happen Here: Integration and Jewish Resistance in the Netherlands, 1940-1945

Ben Braber
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  • Book Info
    This Cannot Happen Here
    Book Description:

    This sweeping work is the first comprehensive English-language study of Jewish resistance in the Netherlands during World War II.Adopting a comparative approach, Ben Braber explores the situation of Jews in the Netherlands against the backdrop of their experiences in other Western European countries. Charting the occurrences of Jewish resistance, he pays particular attention to the ways in which the integration of Jews into Dutch society influenced their responses to German persecution. Braber's incisive analyses shed new light on Dutch and Jewish history, pointing the way toward future paths of inquiry.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1997-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    In one of the first books on the history of Jews in the Netherlands during the Second World War, published in 1946, Sam de Wolff described how people reacted to being deported. He depicted an early morning scene in Amsterdam – it’s 1942, two years after the Germans invaded the country, and the Nazis have started the deportation of the Jews from the Dutch capital. A group of Jews is getting ready for transportation to a concentration camp. One of them, a young man, starts singing and others join in:

    Red dawn. Your sacred glow

    has always brought us the...

  5. PART I Integration

    • 1 Attitudes towards Jews and Jewish responses
      (pp. 17-38)

      In 1916 the Socialist trade union leader Isaäc Goudsmit asked to be present at the founding meeting of a local branch of the Dutch Roman Catholic Union of Bakers and Workers in the Cacao, Chocolate and Sugar Industry. His request was refused, because it was said about him: “[…]aan ’s mans neus kunt gij zien, dat hij niet van ’t houtje is” (Looking at his nose will tell you he is not a Roman Catholic).¹ This reference to a person’s Jewishness, of which the shape of his nose was said to bear witness, was typical of negative attitudes towards...

    • 2 Participation of Jews in the economy, politics and arts
      (pp. 39-60)

      In 1919 the author Jacob Israël de Haan declared in one of his popular newspaper articles:

      [The] particular is always particular of the general. And what I have enjoyed and suffered and done, is a particular, personal form of what a Jewish boy of my nature and talent in my country and in my time was able to enjoy, suffer and do.¹

      De Haan wrote these words after he had left the Netherlands for Palestine. He was by no means an unsuccessful writer and had published several novels and collections of poems. However, his words suggest that his participation in...

    • 3 Changes in Jewish rituals, habits and lifestyles
      (pp. 61-80)

      Celebrating his sixtieth birthday in 1928, the Socialist Polak told a journalist of a provincial newspaper:

      [The] study of Dutch civilization and the awareness of the country’s beauty, in addition to my integration into Dutch society, explains my love for Holland. I consider myself to be a true Dutchman: a Dutchman among the Dutch, but also a Jew among the Jews.¹

      Polak spoke these words in a period when negative attitudes towards Jews appeared to be weakening and Jewish participation in the Dutch economy, politics and arts was increasing. However, by 1940 some of these advances had been reversed. Furthermore,...

  6. PART II Resistance

    • 4 Apprehension (May 1940 – December 1940)
      (pp. 83-98)

      During his retirement speech in Haarlem in 1940, Rabbi De Vries said:

      From where does the strength, the inner salvation, come now? Brothers and sisters, it can only come from Judaism […] From our Jewish self-consciousness […] Jacob made a promise: “When God will be with me.” That when was not conditional but of time. It means that when the time will have come – and that time will come – that the Divine promises have been fulfilled, this stone (that Jacob used as a pillow) will be a house of God. That time has come indeed for Jacob, that...

    • 5 Segregation (November 1940 – May 1942)
      (pp. 99-114)

      In 1942 the secondary school teacher J. Hemelrijk told his pupils why he disobeyed the German order to wear a yellow star:

      Because I do not recognise their authority; because I reject their right to defile me; because I do not want to be a lamb for the wolves […] But we are told to regard it as an honour, not a disgrace; and to be proud of it […] Those who accept that, should wear it; I will not.¹

      Hemelrijk had been removed from his post in a general school and transferred to a Jewish institution in Amsterdam.² The...

    • 6 Deportation (July 1942 – September 1944)
      (pp. 115-140)

      In 1942 Joachim Simon wrote in a letter to a friend in a concentration camp:

      When I think about you, being incarcerated, I am grateful that I can be active. I still have the opportunity to try – and that is most important for us. It is still possible to fight against fate – even if we will lose. And if I have an accident tomorrow, I can have peace. I will not regret for one moment what I have done. We had the courage to fight and if we failed, that is our fate. And the thought that we...

    • 7 Desperation (July 1942 – May 1945)
      (pp. 141-154)

      In 1943 Rudolf Bloemgarten, awaiting execution in prison, wrote in a farewell note to a friend:

      Today we had to compile our final menu, but my cellmates and I do not wish a deviation from the daily ration. You have no idea how united we are in everything and go to our execution full of confidence. We did what we had to do and are completely reconciled with death […] God is calling – we are waiting impatiently.¹

      Bloemgarten was one of the Jews in the Netherlands who took part in armed resistance against the Germans. The nature of their...

  7. Conclusion
    (pp. 155-166)

    This book set out to review the integration of Jews into Dutch society before 1940, determine what was specifically Dutch, explain how different forms of Jewish resistance came into being in the Netherlands during the period of German occupation in the Second World War, and ask how integration and personal circumstances shaped that resistance. This is of course not the ultimate work on Jewish resistance in the Netherlands; it has been written to reinvigorate the debate about that subject and encourage further publications in order to clarify and broaden our understanding of Dutch and Jewish history. To achieve a deeper...

  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 167-180)
  9. Index
    (pp. 181-188)