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Who betrayed Anne Frank? The Netherlands is at war with its past

She's the most famous Holocaust victim because her book doesn't mention the Holocaust. Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

She's the most famous Holocaust victim because her book doesn't mention the Holocaust. Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images


February 22, 2022   6 mins

Embedded in the cobbled pavements of the Netherlands are thousands of brass memorial plaques dedicated to victims of the Nazi genocide: stumbling stones, or Stolplersteine. “As you stumble over them, you stumble over the past,” writes Rosemary Sullivan. “It is part of the fabric of the present.”

With this image, Sullivan ends her book, The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation. Her subtitle, less a mystery unsolved than a secret well kept, trails the book’s bombshell: that a Jewish Council member, Arnold van den Bergh, was in their view “the betrayer”.

It took five years, a €100,000 public subsidy, cutting edge artificial intelligence and a retired FBI special agent, Vince Pankoke, to reach this conclusion — which was launched less than a month ago by an international publishing machine. Sullivan outlines the theory of the Cold Case Diary team: that Van den Bergh “saved his family by giving up addresses, including Prinsengracht 163, to the SD”.

The team described itself as “confident” of this conclusion, which was based on an anonymous note sent to Otto Frank, the only member of the family who survived two years hiding from the Nazis in The Secret Annex. But the global publicity campaign, promoting the idea that it was a Jewish man who betrayed the Franks, unleashed a wave of criticism.

Some scholars and historians immediately questioned the claim, sources distanced themselves, the Dutch publisher Ambo Anthos apologised for any offence caused and paused distribution, influential German magazine Die Zeit accused Sullivan of “sensationalism”, and the heads of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and Anne Frank Fonds in Basel expressed doubts about the work. The team fiercely defended their conclusions in their blog. But they did  backpedal on earlier interviews, in which they had stated that there was an “85% probability” that they were correct, saying this was not an 85% certainty but a “conditional probability”.

While the book predicts a strong reaction to its “powerful” and “unsettling” conclusions — which are presented like a “true crime” documentary and with the certainty of a court verdict — the team has apparently been surprised and shocked by the backlash. They feel like victims of a kind of witch hunt.

The Dutch wounds of Nazi occupation are clearly so close to the surface that, at a scratch, they still bleed. The Netherlands has the worst record of Jewish deaths in Western Europe: an estimated 73% of the Jewish population died. Professor Frank van Vree — a researcher at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies — points out that Remembrance Day on 4 May was named one of the most important national unifiers in a recent, wide-ranging study by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research.

But just as the Dutch self-image of a tolerant, open society has been challenged by admissions of systemic racism, looking closely at the reality of the Holocaust reveals some uncomfortable truths. “From the mid-Sixties, the story of the destruction of Dutch Jewry and the complicity of the non-Jewish Dutch is a permanent struggle with the rosy Dutch self-image,” says Van Vree. “The knowledge that this really happened
 in a society that considered itself a haven of tolerance… It never disappeared, this feeling of guilt”.

And the story of Anne Frank brings a lot of these tensions to the surface. After it was published in 1947 (and with the 1955 Broadway play that brought it to American attention), the diary weathered claims that it was fake, as well as initial hesitancy from international publishers to make Anne Frank, as some historians have it, the centrepiece of Holocaust memorial.

Her story is also perfectly designed for a global audience. “She comes from a very humanist, Frankfurt-based family; she counts as one of the famous Dutch but in reality she’s German,” says Johannes Houwink ten Cate, emeritus professor and chair of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Amsterdam. “And the way Judaism was practised in the Anne Frank family comes very close to the American reform tradition.

“Anne Frank is ideal for identification,” he goes on. “She keeps her faith in humanity, she has all the dreams 13-year-old girls have”. And we fulfil Anne’s dream of becoming a writer by the positive act of reading. “The Anne Frank diary has become a sort of mirror of our society”.

There’s one conspicuous absence in the book, though. “Anne Frank is of course the most famous Holocaust victim”, says ten Cate, “because her book is not about the Holocaust”. The diary ends abruptly; we know where she went, and what happened to her. But “the Holocaust is not mentioned in the book.” The great question the reader is left with is: who betrayed her?

Past theories include warehouse worker Willem van Maaren, Dutch national socialist Tonny Ahlers, famous “Jew-hunter” Ans van Dijk, and a bureaucratic investigation into food stamp fraud. But while ever more books come out to present a new villain to counter Anne Frank’s heroism, the truth of the Dutch war experience was different: collaborating with the Nazis was not the occasional act of the rare individual.

The Netherlands suffered military defeat in five days. There is evidence of sustained civil service and economic collaboration with Nazism after this — the state railway company, for instance, recently agreed to pay €50m in compensation for transporting people to Nazi camps. The population, meanwhile, mostly kept its head down. But many police and civilians betrayed Jewish people in hiding and received financial rewards: kopgeld or “head bounty” (Pankoke, the retired special agent, discovered a microfilm of 956 kopgeld receipts in an American archive).

Solidarity with Jewish people was greater in France and Belgium, which had experience of resistance movements, and where the Germans did not institute a civilian government. The geography there also made hiding easier.

But after the war, the Dutch popular narrative did not recognise that particular groups had suffered more. Stories of the treatment received by Jewish people returning from the camps are appalling: they were given no preferential state help, and sometimes found their possessions taken by other citizens not keen to return them. They even faced housing tax bills for the time when they were imprisoned by Nazis.

Perhaps it’s unsurprising, then, that the Protestant Church in 2020 declared its sense of guilt for failing to protect the Jewish population. That year, Dutch king Willem-Alexander said in his Remembrance Day speech that his great-grandmother Queen Wilhelmina — while in exile in London — did not do enough to support the Jewish community, even “if only by words”.

But it’s very late in the day to recognise some of these injustices. When, in 2016, Amsterdam announced a €10m payment to Holocaust survivors for taxing them while they were in the camps, there were not enough of them left to take it, and the money was instead given to Jewish-related causes.

Meanwhile, after years of examining the cases of museums exhibiting art looted by the Nazis, Dutch restitutions policy has only just been changed to show “more humanity and goodwill”. This year, Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum is expected to hand back a Kandinsky painting, considered a “forced sale”, to the Jewish heirs. Other claim cases are still rumbling.

During this moment of reckoning, the aim of the Cold Case Diary team was, to quote Pankoke, to “provide some closure to the descendants of those who were captured”. But the fact that it points the finger at a Jewish man has been a source of much controversy. Van Vree feels this kind of conclusion should only be made when it is beyond any reasonable doubt. “That’s the last thing that you should suggest — only at the very end, if you are absolutely sure about it”, he says. “The critics are almost all people who are very aware of the non-Jewish guilt about what happened. This is very improper, and if you accept it, you might imply that actually the non-Jews are innocent, so to speak”.

For relatives of Van den Burgh, including his great-niece Elise Tak, the accusation is “appalling”. She questions the proof that any list of hiding places existed, and where the accusatory, anonymous note sent to Otto Frank came from.

Meanwhile the Dutch population is left wondering how to feel about the behaviour of its ancestors. Which is ironic, given that the filmmaker Thijs Bayens started the “cold case” project to try to understand what happens to a population if life is “threaded with fear”.

“The truth never is about the past — it always is about us,” says ten Cate, who expects to see another four or five ‘betrayers’ named in his lifetime. “If it’s only about the past, we don’t give a damn. Historians 
 isolate particular facts and events from the past and bring them into focus because we want to re-form them to something that is relevant for our own identity. Often it takes the form: what would I have done and what exactly is the relation between us, our identity, our self-image, and what happened in the past? Are we entitled to have a better self-image than our parents?”

Whatever your answer, and whatever you think of Sullivan’s book and the team’s conclusions, we have to confront the facts. Reparations can still be made, especially while there are survivors. “It is important to have these conversations now,” he says. “Belated justice is justice.” And even after attempts at justice, it is important to remember, and to trip over, the painful stumbling stones of the past.


Senay Boztas is a journalist living in Amsterdam.


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Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

They even faced housing tax bills for the time when they were imprisoned by Nazis.

This is so Netherlands, and was still true when I lived there in the mid-1990s. The local police showed no interest in the constant thefts from cars to fund the habits of all the druggies, but they mobilised two officers, with guns, to make house to house inquiries to find out who had put out a baby cot on the wrong day for that kind of rubbish.
As a foreigner working there, you had to report in person to the “Aliens Police” for an interview which was held in the same police station as the one in which all the criminals waited to be processed.
ï»żThey would stake out events at which foreigners were likely to be present, such as sports day at the American school, so as to issue tickets to all the cars belonging to foreigners who did not realise they had not only to have insurance but also to display an insurance certificate in the windscreen.
My colleagues and I used to wonder how the Germans ever managed to invade. Surely they were stopped at the border and told their papers were not in order? We concluded that as these were Germans, probably their papers were in order.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

The Dutch are Germans, the Treaty of Westphalia*did not magically turn them into something else.

(* 1648.)

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
2 years ago

…..that the Saxy Angle no?

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Not quite as bad, but definitely some genetic residue.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

Sorry, I don’t quite understand this – are you saying that there is something wrong with being genetically German? If so I’m not sure why that should be.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

Off course not, what ever gave you that idea?
Perhaps you are projecting your own sub-conscious thoughts? I have heard of this before.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

Nope. No sub-conscious thoughts in that direction. I’m so boring that I don’t even think I have a sub-conscious.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

Oh dear, I think you underestimate yourself.
Don’t we all have sub-conscious thoughts, that only appear when stimulated?

As I scribble this, I can see a magnificent red dog Fox curled up having a well deserved snooze on top of my garden shed, after a nighttime of unremitting combat & stress.
Even he I venture, has his sub-conscious thoughts, ‘evil’ though some ( not I)might think them.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

What a wonderful sight.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

Yes, sometimes he is joined by other members of the pack*. A simply splendid sight!

Incidentally he will normally stay there until dusk, before setting off on patrol.

(* Or whatever the collective noun for Foxes is.)

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

A group of foxes is called a skulk.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Thank you, a wonderful word!

Jacqueline Burns
Jacqueline Burns
2 years ago

TRy reading German history from Medieval times onwards. Pay particular attention to Martin Luther & other German theologists & thinkers as well as others of the ‘intelligensia’ & you will have your answer.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

That’s like saying the English are Germans too. May be correct genetically, but it’s pretty stupid culturally. Surprised at you making such a clumsy comment – was it just to show off historical knowledge?
I’ve just finished a history of that particular period and can confidently say the Dutch, culturally, have long separated from their German neighbours and taken a different course.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Well we are (German) to a certain extent, but not as much as the Dutch-Deutsch, thanks to the intermingling of the existing Romano-British population with the Anglo Saxon immigrants.

I don’t think mere mentioning the Treaty of Westphalia is showing off, it must be one of the most important dates in European History is it not?

I am sorry but I beg to disagree about the cultural separation. The Dutch, besides being beer swigging Protestants, took a ‘cultural’ course dictated by their geographical location at the mouth of the Rhine and on the North Sea. Their propensity for discipline, order, hard work and a certain inflexibility, nay even intolerance, are entirely German characteristics would you not say?

Off course I can understand that you recently devoured a work of History that maintains something different, but frankly who would want to be described as German in this day and age, if an ‘alternative’ was on offer?

Last edited 2 years ago by SULPICIA LEPIDINA
Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

Science tells us that British DNA is 85% the same as it was 4,000 years ago, so the ‘intermingling’ of continental Angles and Saxons was minimal.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

Agreed, but it wasn’t worth another argument, if you get my drift.

David Barnett
David Barnett
2 years ago

It is frequently forgotten that “Germany” is a relatively recent construction, dating from Bismarck’s wars “unification” in 1866 (in reality, Prussian hegemony and rule from Berlin). I date from there the decline in vibrancy of German culture, and the growth of excessive veneration of (and obedience to) the state.
The genius, Bismarck, cemented the cult of the state with his invention of the modern welfare state. So successful was this cult, that other states soon emulated his measures.
The German speaking world gifted to the world an extraordinary cultural legacy in music, the arts, literature, the sciences and philosophy. The roots of that vibrant cultural fecundity were in an era when the German speaking world was spread amongst a huge and diverse range of small polities. “Unity” and the cult of the state squeezed the life out of it.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Barnett
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  David Barnett

Germany as a political term dates from 1871, but as a geographical expression, it was in use in Roman times. There was a King’s German Legion in Wellington’s armies in Spain and the Netherlands.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

“Geographical Expression”* are the key words.
Although you are correct that Germany has existed as a entity since the days of Caesar and Tacitus, it was awfully slow to unite into a coherent state.

I’m afraid I missed the point about the KGL.

(* A famous phrase of Metternich as I recall.)

Last edited 2 years ago by SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  David Barnett

I tend to agree, Prussian hegemony did somewhat stifle Germany’s cultural creativity.

Last edited 2 years ago by SULPICIA LEPIDINA
Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago

You might as well say that the Belgians are French, or that Taiwanese are mainland Chinese.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Well the Walloons are certainly French,* and the Taiwanese certainly Chinese, if of a different political persuasion.

(* You may recall De Gaulle’s amusing remark that
“The British invented Belgium to annoy the French.”)

Last edited 2 years ago by SULPICIA LEPIDINA
Howard Ahmanson
Howard Ahmanson
2 years ago

By that standard, Anglo Canadians are Americans “of a different political persuasion”

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

Looking into the past is important. Getting facts straight is important. But guilt cannot be passed on from generation to generation.

Maybe Britain did cruel things in Africa, France certainly did bad things in Africa, Belgium was probably the worst of all. But today’s generation cannot carry guilt for these actions.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Enough already with this “collective guilt.” I thought it was completely rejected after WW II, when Hans or Fritz, born after the war, were deemed free from sin.
But there seems to have been a resurgence. I think it is up to us, those here now, to reject this tosh. As a white American, I bear zero responsibility for slavery or any other “sin” in America’s name that I was not involved in before I was born, and I will not permit others to hector me on my assumed guilt or privilege.
If Anne was betrayed by a Jew it’s unfortunate, perhaps ironic, but these were desperate times. Let history record the facts, like it or not. Any betrayal is a betrayal.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

And somewhat speculative – so should be presented in that light too.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I think you will find the Dutch were fairly dreadful in the Dutch East Indies. As off course were the Germans in South West Africa.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago

This “the other colonial Europeans were worse than us” won’t work even if true. That grenade will blow up in the hands of the grenadier.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

Nonsense, these things can only be judged by comparative analysis. Some have behaved appalling, others (including our good selves) not so.

Collective guilt is a meaningless concept when it comes to Empire. Surely you know that?

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago

Show me a society – any society – which has not misbehaved badly with respect to its minorities, or the poor part of the population. I don’t know of one.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

You are correct, there isn’t one, such is the way of the World.
However by comparative analysis some, including ourselves, have done much better than others.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Looked up one of the links on “systematic racism” in Netherlands, provided in the article:
“Dutch need to teach more on colonial and slave trading history”

I wonder how that would solve racism, and would say islamic countries or the growing muslim minorities in the West be subject to similar requirements.

Jacqueline Burns
Jacqueline Burns
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Jews are expected to carry guilt for every trouble known to man dating back to the crucifixion of CHrist so why not anyone else?

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago

Really? As a christian, I’ve never been taught that.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

I can’t judge the quality of the reseach as I haven’t seen it, but if it were a Jewish man who betrayed the family I quite understand why – he was no doubt protecting his own family. I find it difficult to judge people who have been put into this position as I don’t know what I would have done; we all like to think that we would behave couragously and honourably, but we can’t know until tested. I hope that I am never tested to the extent that many were in occupied Europe.

Dana Jumper
Dana Jumper
2 years ago

Victor Frankl commented on that very thing, saying, “The best of us did not survive.”
Many did what they had to do to survive, and I will not cast stones.

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
2 years ago

Would you ever board an airplane if the pilot announced before take off that there is an 85% chance of reaching the designated destination?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

I’m not quite sure what the relevance of this is; but since you asked – if there were a 15% chance of crashing then I might be a bit concerned about this statistic and wouldn’t travel on that areoplane,, if it were mostly that the aeroplane would be re-routing I would be less concerned but would still probably look for a different airline.

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
2 years ago

As it now considered an 85% conditional probability that Mr. Van de Bergh betrayed Anne Frank. See the article above. To me this means absolutely nothing.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

If youhad asked would I buy a lottery ticket with an 85% chance of winning I would be out the door to the nearest ticket seller. One’s attitude to risk/probability is very dependant on the consequences, so 85% probabilty doesmean something it’s a high probability, but not high enough to risk my life. I still stand by what I originally said – that if it were this man I understand why and do not judge him.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Any Dutch man or woman who collaborated with the Nazis betrayed their queen, Queen Wilhelmina in exile in London, whose radio broadcasts to her country, if only by words, kept the spirits of the Dutch people up. It was dangerous for them to listen to these broadcasts.

If one wants a good account of wartime Holland, one only need watch the near-hour-long episode of Occupation Holland from the groundbreaking 1973 TV series, The World At War. If my memory serves me well, a quote from Anne Frank’s diary is read out at the start of the narration (by Sir Laurence Olivier). Many a Dutch person who lived through the wartime period give compelling and revealing accounts of their experiences and the mood and reality of their lives. At least one Dutch lady is Jewish, and nearly all interviewed speak English well.

If, “after the war, the Dutch popular narrative did not recognise that particular groups (Jews) had suffered”, then how is that possible when stories are mentioned in the next breath (in the piece) of the appalling and abject treatment of Jewish survivors returning to Holland. That experience was a kick in the teeth – but surely the popular narrative, or the general awareness, of the Dutch people did recognise the failings of the Dutch state in relation to the few Jews who returned. After the war.
There was in fact for a time after the war, in the late 1940s, near starvation for most Dutch people. Harsh winters and very little food probably added impetus to forgetting about the war and who was to blame or who suffered most. The Germans had flooded much of Hollands’s low-lying areas in early 1945 through wilful sabotage. I imagine for Jewish survivors, getting food and shelter was also a top priority in the few years following the war.

“
 the complicity of the non-Jewish Dutch 
”. This quote of some educated person mentioned in the piece effectively tars the nominally Christian Dutch. By simply saying that Italy had sided with Nazi Germany as one of the axis powers does not make all Italians accomplices of Nazi Germany. Would we ever read of: the complicity of the non-Jewish Italians? It’s as if the good were as good as bad when such idiotic, skewed phrasing like that is used.

Talking of Dutch Christians, If one wants to know of good Dutch Christians protecting their Jewish neighbours in wartime Holland, then the great and courageous efforts of Corrie Ten Boom should be read about. Indeed her family risked their lives (and most lost them) when they hid Jews in a secret annexe they had built in their home above their shop that sold clocks and made repairs, in Harlem. Corrie and her sister, brother and father were all betrayed in around 1944. Corrie’s sister died at RavensbrĂŒck concentration camp, but Corrie was released by a fortuitous administrative mix-up at that camp, in January of 1945. I think her father died in German detention. The fact that from under the Germans’ noses for three whole years the Ten Booms conducted their rescue efforts surely shows that much reliance was made on the local townsfolk to not talk to the police or Germans about it. The Ten Booms were nevertheless very wary of keeping their efforts very secret as one slip-up meant the end of everything.
The Ten Booms’ wartime experience was made into a major film that was well attended in the United States and released internationally in 1975. Harlem was used as the setting for the film. The film was based on the book The Hiding Place, the name of the film, which I read more than twenty years ago — it is an extremely well-written book. Corrie Ten Boom, who was certified in the 1920s or so as the first female Dutch watchmaker, died in California in 1983. Do even the Dutch today know of this heroic lady and her family? Do folk actually read anything other than what’s on a tiny screen? So many courageous Dutch wartime heroes may well have faded into history.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

The Hiding Place is available on Audible, Richard.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Thanks Pete LR.

A cat has been set among the pigeons. That’s the supercilious view of the author of this piece and, on the basis of the piece alone, the professors whom she has talked with. Now watch the Dutch drop their heads into sorrowful woke navel-gazing as they twiddle their fingers in sombre reflection of the appalling hurt they, THEY, have been complicit in all these years (even though more than half of the population was born after the Bee Gees were rocking discotheques); and in reflection too of the belated realisation of the dullness of their minds that have hindered the administration of “belated justice”. The “conclusion” referred to is merely a way to shoehorn in the idea that the Dutch are still all at sea when it comes to the Second World War. Hence the “permanent struggle” that Prof van Vree says that the Dutch have vis-à-vis their “complicity” as opposed to their “rosy Dutch self-image.”

“It never disappeared, this feeling of guilt.” So says the professor who adds a little spice to the piece from which is revealed the hesitancy of the author and the professors quoted to say meaningfully whether the Dutch in the 2020s have the will or or do not have the will to live. It’s either a rosy life or a wasteland. Which do the names in this piece subscribe to? The long-time feeling of guilt suggests the Dutch have shown sufficient maturity in facing their own past sufferings and doings, malign or valiant. Thus this lack of faith by the learned Dutch in the piece in their own responses allows the author of the piece to put down: “And the story of Anne Frank brings a lot of these tensions to the surface.” Bingo! The Dutch at large have been hiding their complicity for years and years! Perhaps not like the modern Germans? Moreover: “collaborating with the Nazis was not the occasional act of the rare individual.” It would seem the more than 98% of Holland’s population that were not members of the Dutch Nazi Party have some explaining to do. What did THEY do or not do during the war? Must an inquisition of sorts be conducted on their attitudes in the 1950s, 60s and 70s? What on earth had they been doing in the 1960s that allowed the Dutch to develop a rosier, more cheerful society?

“Are we entitled to have a better self-image than our parents?” Please tell us Emeritus Prof ten Cate! What generation would those parents be? Were they possibly only teenagers at war’s end? Who may have witnessed 16,000 Dutch civilians, including young children, die from the severe cold and hunger as a result of the spite the German authorities and forces showed to the Dutch transport workers who dared go on strike to disrupt the German supply chain in late 1944? The Germans cut off food and fuel to much of Holland that they still largely occupied. Many Dutch citizens had felt helpless that they could not help the Jews for a long time, and had enough of a conscience to make the most of new opportunities to sock it to the Germans. To knock them down or knock them back.

Van Vree again: “The critics are almost all people who are very aware of the non-Jewish guilt about what happened. This is very improper, and if you accept it, this is to imply that the non-Jews are innocent, so to speak.” So to speak? That is rather an Orwellian statement. Does the person mean that the Dutch people (except Jewish-Dutch) have absolved themselves by having confessed and forgiven themselves because they have confronted their past? That that great washing away of sin has effectively washed away any remaining non-Christian or non-native-Dutch incriminating cobwebs so to speak, in the Dutch closets?

The big prroblem today with just dipping into the past is that in the internet age, we are going to see more wishy-washy articles of hand-wringing like these. The internet has allowed people to put a telescope to history – to quickly jabber about what they see in a kind of tunnel vision and in the process to knock out context and empathy.

And what are we to make of: “The population, meanwhile, mostly kept its head down”? That the population was indifferent?

Last edited 2 years ago by Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

I’ll just add that when, nearly twenty-five years ago, I strode across the main cobblestone square in front of the historic St Bavo’s cathedral in Haarlem, with family, to visit the ten Booms’ house where the annex was, I came up close to a shop window display, at the start of the lane down to the house, that featured vibrators, upright and out of their boxes. I thought it bizarre more than anything else.
In an episode of Civilisation, the famous Kenneth Clarke BBC documentary from 1969, Haarlem is featured. There is a brief shot of Clark walking across the same square in front of the cathedral – the same square so familiar to Corrie ten Boom. Pretty much behind the camera position would be where that sordid little window display was. It certainly would not have been around in 1969.
Strange things are going on in the Netherlands region today.

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago

I remember reading her books as a teenager in the 80s. I should revisit- thank you.

R S Foster
R S Foster
2 years ago

…I believe Dutch Volunteers also provided a Waffen-SS Division…mind you, so did the French, Belgians, Danes, Norwegians…and practically everywhere in Eastern Europe…Lest We Forget…

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago
Reply to  R S Foster

25,000 had volunteered for the eastern front. But 300,000 Dutch men went into hiding to avoid being taken away as forced labour in German factories. These events happened late in the war.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

This investigation with an inconclusive result presented as virtually conclusive is an appalling smear. Just like the smearing of politicians, teachers etc by unproven accusations.
I’ve no problem with speculation – historians have to do this all the time in the absence of conclusive material – but their finding should have been presented in that context, with sobriety, not sensationalism.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

Aside from the legendary salvage tug boatmen, Cloggieland is not famous for guts and courage…

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

A trifle unfair if I may say so.

They did give us a damned good thrashing in the Second Dutch War, & pinched our flagship H.M.S. Royal Charles* from the Medway. Her ‘Royal Arms’ still decorate the Rikjsmuseum in Amsterdam, much to our embarrassment!

(* Formerly The Naseby of the Commonwealth Navy. How Oliver Cromwell must ‘roll in his grave’!)

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

Tolerance and cowardice are closely related, and have to do with a fundamental uncertainty about your culture, values and morals. I’ve never seen Dutch ‘tolerance’ as a virtue, much more a visible sign of how decadent and depraved Dutch society is.

Martin Hayes
Martin Hayes
2 years ago

Who was Otto Frank, really? Said to be on the lam with his brother Herbert from the German authorities for financial improprieties committed at their family-owned bank in Frankfurt. (But we can never know.) Herbert escaped to the US, but Otto stayed in Amsterdam to attend to business, which during the war happened to take the form of collaborating with the Wehrmacht, a willing buyer of various grades of pectin Otto manufactured. (But we can never know.) The Dutch wanted a word with Otto about this upon his return from Buchenwald. The fact that he had been interned there did not dissuade them from being interested in his case. (What became of it? We can never know.)

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Hayes
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

In 1987 a Play entitled ‘Perdition’ written by the late Jim Allan was to be performed in the Royal Court Theatre, in the ‘Centre of the Known World’, Sloane Square, (London). It’s premise was that the Hungarian Jews had been “sold out “ to the N*zis by another Hungarian Jew.

In the event it was not performed in London, although perhaps later in Bristol.

Lucille Dunn
Lucille Dunn
2 years ago

That was the Kastner affair. I saw Jim Allen interviewed at the time he wrote the play: he consistently pronounced ‘Holocaust’ “ ‘Oly Ghost” which did not inspire confidence in his grasp of the material.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

How on earth can that statement merit a downtick? What moron thought that?

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

Since what you described seems completely factual–I haven’t fact checked, but the existence of the play should not be controversial.
I don’t understand the down votes either, and now you have 2!