“Dutch Tzedakah” - Stories of righteous ones in the Netherlands - Saving Jews from the Nazis

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Chapter 4

Dutch Audacity

When the first settlers arrived in the “Lowlands,” they were presented with an unappealing spectacle, a low-lying land, mostly covered in lakes and marshlands intersected by rivers. The land at large did not hold much promise. During storms, large areas would be completely submerged by the sea, making any attempt of permanent settlement difficult. Farming on a major scale was almost unthinkable and therefore the first inhabitants were forced to fish and hunt for their survival. Gradually, ways to combat the inroads of the sea were developed. Large artificial earthen mounds called “Terps” were erected upon which the tribesmen built small villages. Later, dams were built connecting the Terps, and by 1000 A.D., the first real coastal dykes made their appearance in western Friesland. The original inhabitants of the area, now known as the Netherlands, were the tribes of Bataves and Friesians. Roman Emperor Nero, described these proud people, “For bravery and loyalty no people surpassed the Friesians.” These were the ancestors of the modern Dutch nation. Fifteen centuries later, the same qualities were shown when Philip of Spain, son of the Roman Emperor Charles V, sent a new Governor to the conquered “Spanish Netherlands.” All the provincial representatives, with the exception of the Friesian contingent, went down on their knees in respect, as was custom. When asked to explain their action, the Friesian leader, Gemme van Burmania replied, “Friesians only bend the knee to God.” This audacious spirit explains why the Dutch have held their own against the might of the Germanic Empire, Spain, France, England, and the Church of Rome, since the time when the Netherland’s great Prince William (the Silent) of Orange, a Calvinist Protestant, led the revolt in 1568 and ensured freedoms for all!

- We know well, that in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five-thesis on indulgences to the door of the chapel at the Wittemburg Castle in Germany, demanding reform within the Church of Rome. He gained a large and influential following in the Netherlands, which had already been aroused by the teachings of Erasmus of Rotterdam, 1476-1536, through his book “The Praise of Folly” and other works. History does show however, that, Martin Luther was in truth not the man, historian have written about, the great christian, the master reformer, for he became, well let me say this truthfully, just as he did in his own book, a man who hated the Jewish people to the extreme in the later days of his life! At first, he had hoped that his new faith would have those Jew’s accept that they were indeed the Christ killers their forefathers had been were and convert. But when this did not eventuate, Luther became the ultimate ferocious Jew-hater and he desired to see them dead! He heaped monstrous accusations and lies about the Hebrew people and encouraged the German Christian Princes to destroy every Synagogue in the land and confiscate all Jewish books and their property, and expel the Jews “like mad dogs” from greater Germany. He advocated these hideous facts in one of his last books entitled, “The Jews and their Lies.” However, in the Netherlands Erasmus advocated religious tolerance, frankness and wanted the Church to return to its original simplicity.

Emperor Charles introduced stricter laws, “the Edicts,” governing religious observance, and heretics were burned at the stake. On the abdication of Charles V in 1556, he was succeeded in his Spanish and Dutch possessions by his son Phillip II who became known as the fanatical religious “Lord of the Lowlands.” He ruled with an iron fist from the depths of Spain. Having no sympathy or understanding for Dutch aspirations or thought, he enforced Catholicism as he saw fit in the usual brutal ways of his Church. Thus with the arrival of Prince William of Orange who in due course took control of the Netherlands, things completely changed!

The original cover of Luther’s book

“Von Den Juden Und Iren Lugen” - “The Jews and their Lies”

The doctrines of John Calvin, 1509 – 1564, gained a more permanent hold in the Netherlands than Lutherism. He taught, “Man is essentially a lowly and sinful being who can attain redemption only through divine grace that comes through Jesus the Messiah.” Calvin's followers led hard, simple, and devout lives. All were equal but were subjected to strong discipline by the elders and led by a pastor. Plain living, thrift, and work were extolled. This straightforward and uncomplicated belief, coupled with a patriarchal form of Church government had strong appeal for the Northern Dutch. Southern Netherlands (today's Belgium) opposed this, and upheld Roman Catholicism. Please note Belgium today is the centre of the “Treaty of Rome” and the “European Economic Community.” These organisations are at the very heart of the proposed New World (godless) order, a humanistic government, setting up a single currency, before they implement a cashless society.

The Dutch revolted against the Church of Rome, and commenced to destroy all religious images, which they knew Scripturally to be idolatrous. Under the leadership of Prince William of Orange, the military also began a revolt. On April 1, 1572, the “Sea Beggars,” a group of outlawed Calvinists took the town of Den Briel. Encouraged by this action, other towns formed a union with Den Briel including the port city of Rotterdam, Haarlem and Leiden. Amsterdam joined later in 1578. Prince William was elected Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht. In 1579, William and his brother John the Elder of Nassau negotiated the “Union of Utrecht.” This in effect brought about the permanent union of the seven provinces whose representatives formed the “States-General,” which was the direct forbear of today's Parliament. Sovereignty was given to William of Orange. Unfortunately, his career was cut short by the hand of an assassin, and he died only two days before he was to be installed as the Count of the United Netherlands on the 10th July 1584.

Prince Willem van Oranje of the Netherlands (1533 - 1584)

Painted by Adriaen Thomasz. Keij, original located & the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

When the new Netherlands openly declared, that “no one should be persecuted for their beliefs” the stage was set for thousands of Jew’s to come and settle. In the Netherlands Jew’s would find a home and enjoy religious freedom as never before in dispersion. In this land, there would be no inquisition. Jew’s were free to marry and acquire property and were not required to wear a compulsory Jewish symbol. Hardly anywhere else did Jew’s enjoy such fundamental freedoms. In the Netherlands, God's ancient people, Israel, discovered the meaning of “Dutch Tzedakah” This is the promise that the LORD God, blessed be He, gives to all that uphold His people Israel,

They shall prosper that love thee ... I will bless them that bless thee” Psalm 122: 6, & Genesis 12: 3.


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