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

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Chapter 8

The Hunter Approaches

One hundred years ago, the majority of the Jewish population lived in Europe. They lived in the Polish provinces of the Russian Empire, the Austrian/Hungarian and German Empires, Italy, France and further north in the Netherlands. Their world was one of poverty and much hardship, but also one of scholars, poets, philosophers, and traders. It was a world of Synagogues, and houses of study, where young and old crowded together by the wick of a candle to study “Torah” (the Five Books of Moses and the Tenach (Old Testament) late into the night. Mothers and grandmothers rocked their loved ones to sleep with Yiddisher lullabies of faith and hope. It was a time where a neighbour's joy was reason for the locality to rejoice, and where one person's pain would be a time of sorrow for all.

East in Lublin Poland one would see the devout hurry to a Rabbis home, eager to study the precious Torah. In Lodz, an ordinary cobbler would be well acquainted with the Talmud (volumes of commentaries and tractates on the Bible, by many learned Rabbis of the past). In Vienna, violinists would transfer little cafes into symphonic halls whilst in Berlin the parks and streets were full of artists etching out moments of memories. In Amsterdam, men would rise at dawn, Sunday to Friday, to hurry their wares to the crowded markets. Writers and poets would stroll along the canals, interpreting life of the times.

Yet, in spite of this picture of industry and contentment, in every century, most nations looked upon Jews with great suspicion, the reason being, men needed scapegoats to justify their own failures, and turned readily against the Jewish people. This was a world where each week Jewish men, women, and children were confronted by new perils and hazards. Nevertheless, each Sabbath they could be seen with their children around their tables rejoicing in their meagre Sabbath meal with thanksgiving and songs to the LORD the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Amsterdam is like an open-air museum, as history abounds!

Since 1579, the Jewish people had enjoyed a safe abode in the Netherlands whilst the vast majority of them preferred to live in Amsterdam. However sadly, the golden age had long passed, and the poor could hardly scratch out a living. And in these appalling conditions, many lived huddled together in tiny houses, or in a room. Children were clad with worn out clothes that barely covered their hungry little bodies.

Life was harsh for the poorer Jews of Amsterdam

Shoes were a luxury, and many had to stay indoors due to a lack of them. Some families would have only two or three pairs amongst ten or twelve. Thus they had to share them when needed. To go out barefooted was impossible due to the long cold winters in the Netherlands. However, in spite of their hardships, the Jewish population of the Netherlands, and those in Amsterdam were certainly not dismayed, for the Jews well remembered the great evils and perils of most other European lands where they had been so terribly persecuted.

They clearly remembered the evil words of that early Roman Catholic leader who declared, “These Jews are the most miserable of all men.” And this satanic based preacher whose name was Martin Luther who so clearly stated in his book, “Their Synagogues should be set on fire and destroyed. Let us drive them out of the country for all time.” These words would be later repeated by another man, but who?

The Jews of Amsterdam and the Netherlands, may have been poor, but they had civic authorities and the Jewish Help and Need Society” to help them to maintain at least the basic needs as much as possible. Luther wrote a book in his final years, entitled, “Of the Jews and Their Lies” or in the original German, “Von den Juden und Ihren Lügen”, which he completed in 1543. And as you will read later, Martin Luther’s book became Adolf Hitler’s spiritual guide for his plan for the “Extermination of the Jews – The Holocaust”

In most countries, “the Jew” was the convenient enemy. We may ask why was thus? Well to the illiterate - they were knowledgeable, to the peasants - they were wealthy, and the rich thought them to be clever and deceitful. In earlier times, Romans saw them as political rivals, the Inquisitors saw them as “the Christ Killers,” and the Cossacks saw them as squeezing out the wealth of their land. To each person and in each land, the Jew was always different, different in looks, or mode of dress, in their beliefs, their strict observance of the Sabbath, the Holy days, their dietary laws, and their love of Elohim - God, and His Law. Indeed the Jew’s are different, as the Scriptures states,

“For the LORD has chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure” Psalm 135: 4.

After World War 1, some nine and a half million Jews lived in Europe. Having been through much hardship, they looked forward with much hope to a new and free Europe, which might finally have democracy and attitudes similar to that of the Netherlands since the 1600s. It was said, “The First World War was the War to end all Wars.” Now the remainder of the twentieth century seemed to hold out the promise of prosperity and progress. There was an increase of industry and invention, which would bring new wealth for all. Science would open up vistas of a better life with more comfort and ease. The motorcar had come, and was soon followed by the telephone, radio, and aeroplane. These were to be the instruments of progress and equality. Art, architecture, music, and literature would reflect the advance of culture as well.

The League of Nations promised an international forum for grievances, complete with its own court of law. The rule of this law was to offer protection to every citizen whatever his origin and beliefs. A wave of hope swept over European Jewry. However, all too soon, hopes of security and success were shattered as post war years advanced and economic difficulties grew. In the early thirties, mass unemployment swept over Europe once more. Some focused their resentment on those “pestilent Jews.” In Germany, it became obvious that extremists sought to overthrow democracy.

In 1920, one young lecturer gave an impassioned address entitled “Why we are against the Jews.” His name? It was Adolf Hitler. He declared, “It is the German duty to arouse, whip up and incite the instinctive repugnance of the Jews to even a higher pitch.” The new political party that Hitler took over attracted masses of like-minded Germans. The Nazis set themselves the task to cleanse Germany, restore the supremacy of the Aryan race and rescue the German, Teutonic peoples from the “cancerous species of Jews and other non-Aryan sub-cultures.” Where did he get all those quotes from, you may ask? I will answer that soon!

Many Germans dismissed him as an Austrian upstart with crazy ideas that would never take hold. “It will work out in the end” was the general attitude. In the end, it worked out with the senseless slaughter of six million Jews, and many millions of other innocent people. This was due to the sheer “complacency” of the German people who did little to nothing at the time when they could have stopped this upstart when he was a no-body! Complacency is the world's greatest disease, and it is still rampant in the world today. People get angry with politicians, and they carry on about their grievances, but do little to nothing. When individuals are able to do something at the poll, empty promises lure them into a false assurance. Hitler promised Germany a radio, a car, prosperity, and a solution to all its problems, but at what cost? What followed is history.

Before the war some twenty million Germans lined up in food queues, with millions being unemployed. When national consciousness was at “low ebb,” it seemed so tantalising and exciting for the masses hearing themselves called by Hitler the “Master Race.” By 1933, Germany had given in, and, Adolf Hitler became their fuehrer.

As Hitler was not resisted by the masses, chaos and madness would soon brake out. Hatred was Hitler’s main feature and part of his programme of hatred for the Jews, hatred of Slavs, Gypsies, and all other so-called inferior people. Hitler decided that who were inferior and that they would die and this would soon include the mentally and physically handicapped who were also considered as being redundant and were doomed for extermination. Millions cheered Hitler as he promised to make Germany great again, yes, minus all those evil enemies of Germany, the mentally sick Germanseven if it is your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter, Yet, they just loved Adolph Hitler!

Below we see Hitler’s Spiritual Handbook to the slaughter of the Jews

By Martin Luther who was one of the most evil of christian preachers yet he is thought of as being a saint

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” Matthew 7:15

They also cheered when he promised to drive the “cursed Jews out of existence.” He wasted no time in carrying out his anti-Semitic programme, which was entirely based on the principles laid down by that great so-called “Christian reformer,” Martin Luther and his last book, “Von Den Juden Iren Lugen” - “The Jews and their Lies” a book that Hitler loved to quote!

It was decreed in April 1933, that anyone with Jewish parents or one Jewish grandparent would be defined as non-Aryan. German doctors, lawyers, architects, artists, and musicians who happened to be Jews, could no longer work with their fellow Germans. Concentration camps were being set up, such as Dachau near Munich, where the opponents of Hitler, such as Communists, Jehovah Witnesses, homosexuals, and Jews would be interned. Throughout the land, notices began to appear stating, “Who buys from a Jew is a traitor to his people.” Yet, these very same Jews had fought bravely in the First World War, and were a part of German life and culture for over one thousand years. They had contributed so much to develop German science, German technology, and above all German medicine. One such man who had fought for Germany in the First World War was Mr. Otto Frank. He, his wife Edith and daughters Margot and Anne had escaped to neutral Holland, which they considered a safe haven, which they had heard so much about. Thousands of Jews sought refuge in countries, which they believed to be safe havens. The Netherlands was bursting, full of Jewish refugees. Yet, this tiny nation that had so little room took all she was able, while many other large nations, the *UK, USA and other, simply shut their doors, and are also guilty for the death of so many.

In March 1938, Hitler (an Austrian) entered Vienna, declaring Austria to be part of the greater German Empire. Eichmann, the head of the SS, established his office there. He, together with Austrian collaborators, persecuted the Austrian Jewish community without relent. Austrians at large, like the Poles, did not like Jews very much, and were happy to see them removed.

In July 1938, an International Conference on the shores of Lake Geneva, comprising of thirty-two nations, including the United States and Britain, discussed “the Jewish refugee problem,” but decided they could do nothing. The very day the conference concluded, German newspapers proudly proclaimed “Jews for sale. Who wants them? NO ONE!” It was Hitler's statement of victory. He announced, “We on our part are willing to put all these criminals at the disposal of these countries, for all I care even on luxury liners.”

There was a excellent Trans-Atlantic Liner built by the Bremer Vulkan shipyards in Bremen for the Hamburg America Line, the 16,732 ton SS St Louis that has a passenger capacity of 973 passengers in three classes when built. She departed Hamburg for her maiden voyage on June 15, 1929 and sailed to Halifax, Nova Scotia and New York and return directly to Hamburg.

Here we see a still new SS St Louis berthed in New York in 1929

The now famous liner, SS St Louis departed Hamburg in May 1939, with 937 refugees heading for Cuba, however upon arrival, the Cuban authorities refused entry for these poor ones as they would not recognise the entry permits that the German’s had issued, for they were all fake!

The German Liner SS St Louis seen here in the Port of Havana (USHMM photo)

A USHMM photo

 

Mother and son look towards their new home with great hope, but sadly there was none

A USHMM photo

 

3 June 1939 - refugees wait on deck, hoping that they might be able to remain in Cuba

A USHMM photo

These poor souls had been part of a massive promotion campaign by the Germans attempting to look good, “see how well we treat these Jews, we send them on a luxury liner, free to a new home.” However, they had all been duped into paying a great amount for what turned out to be false Cuban entry permits.

The ship departed and sailed for the USA, but the USA, just like Britain, refused the Jewish refugees entry and even threatened to send naval ships to sink her if captain Gustav Schroeder would try and beach her. The Captain was a good man, he did all he could to find a safe home for his passengers, but the nations that could have helped him, shamefully shut their doors to the Jews on the St Louis.

Captain Gustav Schroeder was without a doubt a righteous. good and a just man!

The St Louis was forced to cross the Atlantic once again, and headed back to Europe. Arriving in Belgium the Hebrew refugees dispersed. Some proceeded north to the Netherlands, others went south to France, or remained in Belgium. Some were able to go further home, their God given land, which the British like the Romans named “Palestine.” These precious ones were the fortunate ones, as the majority of the St Louis refugees ended up in extermination camps as Hitler invaded the very nations, most escaped to. Captain Gustav Schroeder has been honoured in Israel as a “Righteous Gentile” at the “Yad Vashem” Holocaust Museum Memorial Gardens.

The United States refused up to 400,000 refugee’s entry, each refusal meant a death sentence for the Jews of Europe. This should be considered as one of the great crimes committed by the USA in their history, and the Word of God does warn such a people “Bless Israel and you shall be blessed, but curse Israel, and you will be cursed.” The Swiss government (yes that same nice neutral country, which the world so respects), in order to keep Jews out of their country, they requested Germany to have all Jewish passports stamped with a “J.” When Yugoslavia was invaded, its Jews attempted to flee by any means possible. Many headed for Palestine. And yes, it is hard to believe, but Britain also asked the Yugoslav government to place a “J” on Jewish passports in order to keep the Jews out of British held Palestine, the very country which happen to be the original home of the Jews.

This is a travel Pass for an Austrian man by the name of Hans Löwit and as we can see

it was stamped with a “J” as early as October 28, 1938

Tragically a great many lives were lost completely due to the cold indifference of nations like Britain, America, Switzerland and others who totally refused to help these poor hunted Jews of Europe, the very people the LORD calls My People” in the Scriptures. These nations must take a share in the blame for their complacency has never been an excuse. The sad fact is, these very nations claim dare to claim be “Christian,” but, sadly if we look at their example, they were completely devoid of any Christian values whatsoever, for the vast majority of these poor Jews, ended up in German consetrasyion camps and in their oven! England, United States, and Switzerland you have blood dripping from your very pours’ of existence!

Back in Germany, the Arian youth were now singing a new song “When Jewish blood drips from the knife, then all is good.” School-children were taught with the help of newly printed textbooks that “Jews are the worst of all our enemies and they are a curse to Germany.” Crude anti-Semitic cartoons and films supported this. The German Propaganda machine was dedicated to turning all Aryans against the Jews, for they were responsible for the unemployment and hardships in Germany. A special children's board game was produced called “Juden Rous” - “Jews Out.” The instruction card read, “If you manage to kick out six Jews, you are the winner without question.” What the children played the adults acted out in reality. On the evening of November 9, 1938, the Nazis went on a rampage for the entire night, a night, which is now known as “Kristal Nacht” - “Crystal Night.” Homes and shops were looted and destroyed, Synagogues were burnt to the ground, Jewish women beaten and raped without mercy. The hunter was on the loose and he would not stop until he had his prey firmly under his control, ready to be destroyed.

For a while, the Jews in the Netherlands continued to feel safe in their home that was officially a Neutral Country.” However, all too soon, that ended, as Germany invaded the Netherlands without compunction. During the five years of occupation, there were many of the Dutch people who refused to sit on the fence and they assisted the Jewish people, hiding them from the evils of those Nazi hands. Or else, they would end up on one of the dreaded rail journeys to the death camps in the east.

Sadly, I have also to be very truthful, there were also certain ones in the Netherlands who were complacent, and did nothing at all to help their Jewish neighbours. Then there were even some, and I mean some who were very close to my own family, who aided the Germans and had Jews interned. In the Scriptures God gave a warning to the complacent of the world, and those who take a stand against the Children of Israel.

No matter who you are, or what position you hold, the Word of God clearly states … As you have done unto Israel, so shall I (the LORD God) do unto you.” Obadiah verse 15.

After the war, many individuals throughout Europe sincerely repented of their sins and their attitude of complacency, which allowed Hitler absolute power. God is willing to forgive those who repent with all their heart and soul. Thus, Israel should also forgive those who in sincerity have sought forgiveness. Those who do not, the Almighty will hold responsible at the time of judgement.

“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit” Psalm 34: 18.

The madness in Europe had begun as Hitler commenced to fully implement, “The Final Solution.”

 

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