They knew about Anne Frank

Holland’s main objective before and possibly during World War 2 was to be neutral. This attitude had had some success in World War 1 in 1914-1918 though towards the end there were rising frictions about trade and the use of Rotterdam as a harbour for Germany. The attitude failed in World War 2 in 1939-1945 when (the center but not the harbour of) Rotterdam got bombed and the country occupied. Still, resistance against the occupation was exceptional. The war was essentially a period of cognitive dissonance, during which the Dutch longed to be neutral and tried to neglect reality as much as possible.

The public image of Holland in the allied countries of the USA, Canada and the UK became that Holland was part of the alliance, with Queen Wilhelmina broadcasting from London and with the oil refineries on Curaçao providing most of the kerosine for airplanes. In reality Holland was rather a lame member of the Third Reich and waited for the nightmare to go away.

Ies Vuijsje started the Dutch Historikerstreit of he himself against all others, about how much the Dutch did know about the holocaust – or the Nazi “final solution” for the jewish population. He holds that it is a myth that the Dutch did not know that the Jews would be killed who were transported out of the country. He emphasises that who wanted to know had ample means to get to know the truth. The Allies gave a general declaration on December 17 1942, signed by the Dutch government in London, and broadcasted by the BCC and Radio Orange, that the Nazi’s were exterminating the Jews. Ed van Thijn, a Jewish survivor of the war and later Mayor of Amsterdam in 1983-1994, reviewed Ies Vuijsjes book of 2006, and stated that the silence of Dutch historians made him suspicious that Vuijsje was right.

The Radio Orange broadcast in 1942 was read by Lou de Jong (1914-2005), who later became the chief War Historian and director of the NIOD, the Dutch historical instute on World War 2. Van Thijn records that De Jong refers to the Autumn of 1943 when most of the Jews had already been deported. De Jong championed the theory in his scientific writings that the Dutch population was aware of transports, supposedly to camps to work and such, but not of the intended murder. Vuijsje’s tentative theory is that De Jong suffered from cognitive dissonance. De Jong was Jewish himself and though he apparently admitted later, in his personal memoirs, that more could have been done (see Noordervliet), it must have been difficult in his scientific analysis to acknowledge reality and his own failure.

The following graph gives the number of Jews per 1000 inhabitants per country in 1940, on the horizontal axis, and the % killed of those at the end in 1945, on the vertical axis. The red dot is the overall average, with a total 1940 population of  431 million and 8.9 miljoen Jews, thus 20.6 per 1000, and 5,9 miljoen Jews killed, or 67%. The green dot is Holland, with a 1940 population of 8.9 million, 140,000 Jews, or 15.8 per 1000, and 105,000 killed, or 75%. The regression line is y = 41 + 0.52 x. An average country starts out with murdering 40%, and of each two Jews per 1000 an additional one of those is killed. Tolerant and freedom loving Holland belongs to the more deathly nations, where Anne Frank can be betrayed and put on transport with everyone watching lamely and telling himself or herself that one cannot do anything about it.

Number of Jews and deaths per country 1940-1945

Number of Jews and deaths per country 1940-1945

A book of 2012 is by Bart van der Boom of Leiden who studied 164 diaries and who suggests that people were abhorred by the deportations but were generally unaware of the intended murder. His good point is that the notion of a gas chamber is a horror that was less imaginable before 1945. Blogger Arie Kok accuses Ies Vuijsje of slandering Lou de Jong. May 5th is Liberation Day in Holland and Vuijsje was allowed to fill two pages of NRC Handelsblad to make his case again (May 4 2013, Opinie & Debat page 8-9). A gas chamber by way of method is not much of an argument when the subject is intended murder itself. This got a reply from Bart van der Boom on his weblog, who argues that Ies Vuijsje neglects the proper arguments. The “Wir haben es nicht gewuszt.” applies to the Germans who operated the concentration camps and not the general German population and the Dutch who sent in the Jews.

It is important to observe that Germany has spend and still spends much time and effort in schools and on television to deal with the national trauma of having been Nazi’s and having caused the wars and the killings. Holland hasn’t done its share on its lame role. The Dutch mentality is cognitive dissonance.

Appendix:

The data are from here, while 1940 population data come from Wolfram Alpha.

 

Jews

Killed

%

Population(million)

Jews/1000

Finland

2,000

0

0

3.7

0.5

Norway

1,800

900

50

3.0

0.6

Italy

40,000

8,000

20

43.8

0.9

Denmark

8,000

0

0

3.8

2.1

Yugoslavia

43,000

26,000

60

15.2

2.8

GermanyAustria

240,000

210,000

88

77.5

3.1

Belgium

65,000

40,000

60

8.4

7.7

France

350,000

90,000

26

41.0

8.5

Greece

70,000

54,000

77

7.3

9.6

Bulgaria

64,000

14,000

22

6.6

9.8

RussiaRSFSR

975,000

107,000

11

96.5

10.1

Protectorate

90,000

80,000

89

8.7

10.4

Netherlands

140,000

105,000

75

8.9

15.8

Luxembourg

5,000

1,000

20

0.3

17.9

Slovakia

90,000

75,000

83

3.6

25.4

Romania

600,000

300,000

50

15.9

37.7

SSRUkraine

1,500,000

900,000

60

34.8

43.1

Baltic

253,000

228,000

90

5.6

45.6

SSRBelarus

375,000

245,000

65

7.3

51.3

Hungary

650,000

450,000

70

9.3

70.0

Poland

3,300,000

3,000,000

90

30.0

110.0

Total

8,861,800

5,933,900

67

431.0

20.6

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