How the Dutch Red Cross Abetted the Nazis during World War II

March 12 2018

Last month, the president of the Netherlands’ Red Cross visited Israel to apologize formally for the organization’s conduct during the German occupation of the country. He was moved to do so by a recent book on the subject written by Regina Grüter, which assembles much evidence to prove what Dutch Jews themselves have long believed, as Ofer Aderet writes. (Free registration may be required.)

At the beginning of 1941, when the order came to stop accepting blood donations from Jews, the Dutch Red Cross accepted the decree . . . and didn’t send a protest letter. In February of that year, when 427 Jews were arrested in Amsterdam and sent to Buchenwald, the Dutch Red Cross sent a letter to the German occupying authorities wondering whether the organization was allowed to send packages to these Jews. The answer was as one would expect: it was forbidden to help Jews. The Red Cross simply accepted the order and sent aid packages only to non-Jewish Dutch political prisoners.

When in late 1941 the Germans ordered that all Jewish volunteers be dropped from the Red Cross, the group [again] followed these orders without a word. And the archives contain not one mention of any attempt to oppose these orders, or any underground attempts by the group to help Jews.

The research also didn’t uncover any evidence of discussions among the group’s leaders about the fate of the Dutch Jews. Grüter’s book leaves the impression that the Red Cross people acted as mere bureaucrats who carried out the Nazi occupiers’ orders to the letter and never tried to make things hard for the Germans—in clear violation of their role as aid workers. . . . “They weren’t anti-Semites, they were simply neutral,” Grüter says.

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More about: History & Ideas, Holocaust, Netherlands, Red Cross, World War II

 

Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war