The Esnoga, the famous Portuguese Synagogue of Amsterdam, holding a service for survivors of the Holocaust on May 9, 1945.
Monthly Archives: March 2012
The Hollandse Schouwburg was Amsterdam’s premier venue for concerts and shows before the Nazis occupied Holland in 1940. By 1942 it was turned into a detention and deportation center for Amsterdam’s Jews. Most who went through the Schouwburg would end being transported to Auschwitz and Sobibor.
(from left to right: Nardus Groen, Bertus te Kiefte, Geeske te Kiefte, Sipora Groen)
This photograph is taken at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem in 1984. It was taken on the day that a tree was planted to honor the heroic actions of Lubertus and Geeske te Kiefte. Their heroic actions are documented in the upcoming book Jew Face.
Many of the German Jews who fled to Holland when the Nazi persecution began to reach high levels found refuge in Westerbork. A refugee camp set up by the Dutch government and largely financed by the Jewish community to provide what was meant to be comfortable living conditions, Westerbork was to become a weapon of the Nazi terror machine after the occupation of Holland. After 1940 it was turned into a Concentration Camp and Transit Center. Most of the estimated 104,000 Dutch Jewish victims of the Holocaust would either pass through or perish in Westerbork.
The significance of this picture is that it directly and indirectly represents the 3 major aspects prevalent during the Nazi occupation of Holland in regard to the Jewish community. Firstly it shows Nazi soldiers and the fear they instilled in the community even before their intentions were revealed. Secondly it shows Jewish victims, in this case young men, one of which was my mother’s cousin David Van Hasselt, lined up before being transported to their death merely for being Jewish. And lastly, as a result of this raid that was widely recognized throughout Jewish and Non-Jewish Amsterdam as being retaliation for something not done by a Jew, Dutch leftists organized “the February strike” (” De februaristaking”) , showing early on that the average Dutchman would not support Nazi persecution.
This is the plaque given by Nardus & Sipora Groen to Lubertus & Geeske te Kiefte at the end of World War II in gratitude for their remarkable and selfless sacrifice.
It is from Psalm 31, Verse 9 and translates as follows:
“You will not abandon me into enemy hands,
but will set my feet in a free and open space.”