Introduction to Rescue in The Netherlands


Jews in the Netherlands were emancipated and granted civil rights in 1796.  As in Germany and Austria, Dutch Jews occupied many of the middle class professions.

The Jewish population in pre-war Holland was 140,000 out of a population of 8,828,680 (1.6%).  110,000 were native Dutch Jews and 30,000 had recently arrived from Germany and Austria.

Eighty thousand Jews (60%) lived in Amsterdam.

Jews were integrated into the cultural, political and economic life of the Netherlands.  Half of Dutch Jews were involved in commerce.  Dutch Jews had full citizenship and equality.  Many Jewish institutions received government financial support. 

Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940.  On August 31, 1940, the first of many Nuremberg-style antisemitic laws were enacted by the Nazi government.  Jews were deprived of civil rights and of their participation in Dutch economy.

On January 10, 1941, Jews were ordered to register with local census offices.

On February 12, a Jewish Council was formed, under pressure by the Nazi occupying government.

On March 12, 1941, Jewish businesses were confiscated.  A law of May 21, 1942, ordered the complete expropriation of Jewish property.

On March 18, 1941, the German government forced all Jewish organizations under the umbrella of the Jewish Council.  All Jews were prohibited from traveling and were fired from the civil government and public positions.

In the spring of 1941, the Central Office for Jewish Emigration, on the Austrian model, was set up in Amsterdam.  The Jewish Council was forced to cooperate with the Office for Jewish Emigration.

In January 1942, Jews were pressed into forced labor camps.  Jews were forced to wear the yellow star and were under strict curfew by April. 

In July 1942, the infamous transit camps of Westerbork and Vught were preparing to deport Jews.  Deportations to the Auschwitz death camp began almost immediately.  These deportations lasted until September 1943.

The last major deportation was on September 29, 1943.  5,000 Jews, including members of the Jewish Council, were deported to Auschwitz from the Westerbork transit camp.

106,000 Jews, 75% of Dutch Jewry, were deported and murdered, including 30,000 Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria.

Queen Wilhelmina of Holland

Queen Wilhelmina of Holland helped procure visas for Jewish refugees in Holland.  These visas were requested by Julius Steinfeld. 

Red Cross Legation in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The office of the International Red Cross in Amsterdam helped send cables to Jewish organizations in Switzerland and Palestine for help.


Survival of Jews in The Netherlands


Jews of the Netherlands – 40% (40,000 survived, 100,000 lost). Jewish population in 1940 was 140,000.  75,000 Jews resided in Amsterdam.  There were 15,174 Jewish refugees in Holland at the beginning of the German occupation in 1940, many were from Germany, Austria, and the Protectorate of Bohemia Moravia.[1] 12,000 Dutch Jews were exempted from deportation because of their marriages, 2,000 left the country.  Altogether, approximately 17,000 Dutch Jews survived in hiding.[2]  Many were helped by sympathetic Belgians.[3] An estimated 3,000 Jews were protected from deportation by a sympathetic German official named Hans Georg Calmeyer.  5,450 Jews returned after the war. Excluding these survivors, the loss rate for the Netherlands is nearly 80%. 5,595 Dutch people have been honored for rescuing Jews.[4]





[1] Bauer & Rozett, in Gutman, 1990, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, s.v. “Estimated Losses in the Holocaust,” pp. 1799-1800; Benz, in Laqueur, 2001, The Holocaust Encyclopedia, s.v. “Death Toll,” p. 145, states 102,000 lost; Warmbrunn, in Laqueur, 2001, The Holocaust Encyclopedia, s.v. “Netherlands,” pp.437, 442; Hilberg, 1985, p. 1220

[2] Bender & Weiss, 2007, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous among the Nations: Europe (Part I) and Other Countries, pp. 80-81.

[3] Michman, J., in Gutman, 1990, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, s.v. “Netherlands,” pp. 1045, 1055

[4] Michman & Flim, 2004, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous among the Nations: The Netherlands (Volumes 1 & 2).



Updated November 4, 2017