In a recent interview with a major Dutch newspaper, a Dutch senator and former general stated that he had “always been intrigued by how it was possible that the Jews—such a courageous, militant nation—were chased like docile lambs into the gas chambers.” But this is not so, writes Manfred Gerstenfeld; indeed, the cooperation of Dutch officialdom with the Nazis did far more than alleged Jewish passivity to ensure the success of the Final Solution in their country:
Members of the Dutch police knew it was their task to arrest only criminals, yet they greatly assisted the Germans in arresting Jews, including babies and the elderly. Jews were transported by Dutch railways to the Westerbork transit camp, where they were guarded by Dutch military police. More than 100,000 Dutch Jews—over 70 percent of the prewar Jewish population—were sent to their deaths in the German camps in Poland.
A small percentage of the Dutch population—very courageous people—helped Jews. Twenty-four thousand Jews went into hiding. Of these, 16,000 survived. Many others were betrayed or caught by Dutch volunteer organizations—a civil and a police one—the members of which were rewarded monetarily for every Jew they captured.
In the Dutch resistance, Jews, who numbered less than 1.5 percent of the population before the war, played a disproportionately large role. This has been underpublicized by both media and historians. . . .
A few months after the end of the war, the minister of transport and energy Steef van Schaik . . . addressed a large gathering of railway employees at The Hague, and said: “With your trains, the unhappy victims were brought to the concentration camps. In your hearts, there was revolution. Nevertheless, you did it. That is to your honor. It was the duty the Dutch government asked from you because the railways are one of the pillars that support the economic life of the Dutch people.”
More about: Dutch Jewry, Holocaust, Netherlands