There were two Dutch communities in the Netherlands: the Sephardim and the Ashkenazim. The Sephardim arrived in the Netherlands by sea along with other Portuguese traders and became permanent when the Inquisition targeted Portuhuese and Spanish Jews. The Ashkenazim arrived overland beginning in the mid-17th century. These two communities remained separate, but the Dutch Republic recognized only one community to which a level of autonomy was granted within the larger Protestant (Calvinist) community. The authorities tolerated thev Jews to a greater degree than other Protestants and Catholics. Jew could not fully
participate fully in civic life or join a guild. Dutch tolerance of Jews, however, led to a level of trust among the Jews and an approach of negotiation and compromidse. The Sephardim faced the problem of aiding newly arrived Jewish refugeees. Some Dutch Jews during the 19th century integrated into Dutch society and became secularized. Often moving away from traditional Jewish areas. Others maintained Orthodox traditions and continued to live in Jewish neigbothoods, especially in Amsterdam. The bulk of Dutch Jews tookmiddle-of-the-road approaches which mean that they were not fully integrated. There was even a kind of
Jewish economy. The Dutch diamond industry and segments of the textile industry were heavily Jewish. Many Dutch people did not fully accept Jews, although there attitudes were often more descrete than in other European countries. Anti-Semitism grew during the 1930s, both because of the Depression and the arrival of large numbers of German Jews. Dutch Jews were devestated by the Holocaust. The NAZIs killed about 75 percent of the Jewish community, one of the highest rates in occupied Europe.
As part of the Dispora, Jews spread throughout the Roman Empire. It is thus likely that the first Jews reached what is not the Netherlands at this time (1st century AD). There were almost certainly small numbers. Virtually now information exists about the Jews.
Small numbers of Jews lived throughout the low counties in the Medievel era. Virtually nothing is known about them. It is likely, however, that Jews expeienced a degree of toleration. This changed after the Crusades inspired an outburt of religious zealotry which because for the most part Moslems were located at some distance was often directed at the local Jews. Actual records of Jews in the Low Countries date to about 1100. Medievel records show a pattern of tolleration and persecution. As in other areas of Europe, attacks on Jews were especially severe during the Plague (1349-50). Many believed that the Jews were responsible and Jews weremassacred;. Survivors were driven away. As a result virtually no Jews were left in the Low Countries. Anti-Semitism was, however, intense as reflected by literature and available written documents. This appears to have been primarily religious based anti-Semitism which blamed Jews for the death of Christ.
Martin Luther posted is 59 Thesis and launched the Protestant Reformation (1519). The Reformation rapidly spread to the Low Countries. At the same time, the Low Countries became one of the principalities given to Philip II of Spain. The result was the Sutch War of Independence. Philip was determined to both stamp about Protestantism as well as Dutch independence.
The Sephardim arrived in the Netherlands by sea along with other Portuguese traders and became permanent when the Inquisition targeted Portuguese and Spanish Jews. Percecution of Jews in Spain intensified in the mid-15th century. This was not just a religious persecution, but also had ethnic and economic features. Ferdinand and Isabella finally expelled the Jews (1492). The Jews were also expelled from Portugal. The Portuguese gave those who refused to convert time to liquidate their holdings and supplied them with 16 ships and safe-conduct to leave for Holland. Some of the Jews after some time in the Netherlands decided to move on th Dutch colonies like Suriname. The Dutch thus became a safehave for Jews (16th century). Amsterdam was at the time a major world trading center. The Portuguese and Spanisj jews arriving in the Netherlands claimed to be Marranos, converted Jew. Although they were outwardly Christoan, many secretly retained their Jewish traditions. They formed secret communities. Amsterdam city officials discovered a Jewish community (1603). Officiald arrested the leaders. As a result, some Jews moved to Alkmaar, Rotterdam, and Haarlem where they were granted protective charters. Most Jews remained in Amsterdam where they founded another community (1608). City offivcials debated what to do with the Jews. The Protestant Church was the state religion and Church officials wanted the Jews supressed. City officials were less interested in acyingv against the Jews who had become important in the city economy. New laws addressing rekigious toleration were issued akkowing Dutch cities to decide the matter indiviually. Amsterdam decided to tolerate the Jews, but not as citizens. They were allowed to practice their religion distretly, but limited commercial and political rights. Most other Dutch cities decided similarly, but a few granted full rights to the Jews while others completely excluded them. The Sephardim faced the problem of aiding newly arrived Jewish refugeees.
The Ashkenazim arrived overland beginning in the mid-17th century. The first Ashkenazi Jews arrived in Amsterdam (1620) and later formed their own community (1635). The first Ashkenazi were from Germany where the Protestan Reformation in some areas targeted Jews. Jews were also attacked during thevThirty Years War. Later Ashkenazi Jews arrived from Eastern Europe. Ashkenazi Jews settled in many Dutch cities, especially Rotterdam and the Hague. Gradually the Ashkenazim came to outn number the Sephardim. The Sephardic Jews were dominant in economic and social influence. The prosperity of Dutch Jews was not equally shared. The kmost successful Jews were the Sephardim. The Ashkenazim became a kind of eworking class in the Jewish community. Rather than Dutch they spoke mostly Yidish. The Ashkenazim, in contrast to the Sephardim, made very little contribution to either Dutch culture or even Jewish culture. I'm not sure why this was, but presumably reflects their working class status.
The two Jewish communities (Sephardim and Ashkenazim) remained separate, but the Dutch Republic recognized only one community to which a level of autonomy was granted within the larger Protestant (Calvinist) community. The authorities tolerated thev Jews to a greater degree than other Protestants and Catholics. Jew could not fully participate fully in civic life or join a guild. Dutch tolerance of Jews, however, led to a level of trust among the Jews and an approsach of negotiation and compromise. While the Jew were not cituizes of the Dutch Republic, they were to establish their own internal political structures. They formed the kehilla, a semi-autonomous governing body. The Jews set up bet dins (religious courts) and schools. This was a common approach in Europe for dealing with Jewish communities. In many other countries, Jews were still excluded. While the Jews in the Netherlands were like the rest of Europe isolated politically, the Jews in the Betherlands were quite unusual in that they were not isolated economically. Dutch Jews achieved a high level of economic integration as well as considerable social integration. This was at the time unprecdented. Dutch Jews, especially the Sephardim had an important part in the vibrant economy that made the tiny Netherlands a world power and international trading center. The descendents of the Portugese Jews were uniqely placed. They had extensive knowledge of languages as well as connections in other important trading centers. Their network of Jews and Marranos throughout Europe wasca major assett to Dutch shipping and trading. Jews were important investors in the East Indies Company which dominated international trade during the 17th and early 18th centuries. It was not onlt trade and finance in which Jews emerged. Jews were successful in the tobacco, sugar refining, and printing industries. The Dutch diamond industry in particular came to be dominated by Jews. In addituion, Jews entered many professions, especially medecine. Jewish doctors were allowed to practice on non-Jews which was virtually unheard of at the time. Jew were not confined in ghettos, but irather mostly lived in a Jewish quarter, but were not legally bound to stay there. Anti-Semitic violence was virtually unknown in the Netherlands at a time when it was still common in Eastern Europe and Germany. There were many internat divisions both between the Sephardim and Ashkenazim and within the two communities. There was also disagreements over the level of secularization. One of the most noted examples of this was the expulsion of philosopher Baruch Spinoza from the Jewish community.
Dutch Jew especially the Sephardim made important contributions to Dutch culture. Rembrandt who was not a Jew, painted "The Jewish bride", a famous painting. Spinoza made important contributions to philodsophy. In more recent times there were several Jews who became part of the Dutch cultural scene: first of all the author and playwright HERMAN HEIJERMANS (1864-1924). In one of his plays, "Op Hoop van Zegen", a very folksy Dutch story about a
fisherwoman who lost her husband at sea, ESTER de BOER-van RIJK excelled on the stage for many years. She died in 1934. The painter JOZEF ISRAELS (1824-1911) was well-known for his Dutch landscapes and pastoral scenes. ALETTA JACOBS was the first woman to study medicine at a Dutch university (1901). And there were many others, Seraphim and Ashkenazy, who became well-known, like BUENO de MESQUITA, the illustrator of many children's books.
During the Enlightenment which preceeded the French Revolution, the question of emancipation began to be debated. The Netherlannds by the mid-17 century had declined economically. Both England and France with larger navies, economies, and populations became increasingly dominant in international trade. The Ditch economy suffered as well as the living standard of both non-Jews and Jews. The Sephardim in partivcular suffered as their position in society had been based in trade and commerce. The sitiation continued to decline with the Anglo-Dutch Naval War (1780-84) and the French Revolution (1789). The Netherlands was governed by several different regimes. French armies invaded and occupied the Netherlands despite assistance from Britain. Some Jews began to take an interest in political participation alothough many wanted to retain their separation. The Batavian Republic and the French imposed Kingdom of the Netherlands which followed legally emancipated Jews. This proved to be a dissaster for the Dutch as Napoleon would impose the Continental System which because of the Royal Navy meant that the Dutch were cut off from trade and commerce. The Dutch experienced a depression. .
Napoleon's reverses forced the French to wiyhdraw from the Netherlands. A coup established a new Dutch Government (1814). The modern Dutch monarchy was founded at this time and recognized by the Congress of Vienna. Initially the Monarchy included Belgium, but a popular revolt later sepsrated the two countries (1830). Most of the Dutch including the Jews following the Napoleonic Wars had been reduced to poverty. The economy in the once more independent country quickly revived. Jews became active in the cotton textile industry which was transformed by the Industrisl Revolution. Jew also resumed the international diamond trade. King William I persued a policy of integrating Jews into Dutch society. Jewish institutions like kehilla were abandoined. The king instituted compulsory secular education for Jewish children. He also discouraged the use of Yidish and Jews increasingly spoke Dutch. The Dutch maskilim supported the Government. The economic opportunities created by integration were primarikly in the cities and as a result Dutch Jews became increasingly concetrated in the major cities. Many Jews began entering the professions, becoming doctors and lawyers. Some Dutch Jews during the 19th century integrated into Dutch society and became secularized. Often moving away from traditional Jewish areas. Others maintained Orthodox traditions and continued to live in Jewish neigbothoods, especially in Amsterdam. The bulk of Dutch Jews took middle-of-the-road approaches which mean that they were not fully integrated. The former often devout religiosity of Dutch Jes were affected by the integration intonsecular society. Many Dutch Jews turned away from orthodox and became increasingly liberal. The Jewish populayion was also affected by conversions, intermarriage, and a low birthrate. There was still, however, a kind of Jewish economy. The Dutch diamond industry and segments of the textile industry were heavily Jewish. Many Dutch people did not fully accept Jews, although there attitudes were often more descrete than in other European countries. A Dutch reader writes, "I believe there never was a lot of anti-semistism in Holland, certainly not as violent as in Germany, Austria, Spain, Russia or Poland, and even France
Anti-Semitism grew during the 1930s, both because of the Depression and the arrival of large numbers of German Jews. Hitler and the NAZI's seized power in Germany (1933). At the time there were about 140,000 Jews in Holland. NAZI persecution of the Jews resulted in German and later Austria Jews fleeing to the Neterlands. Thev Netherlands was a popular haven beause of tolerant Dutch attiytudes, a border with Germany, and the similarity of the language. The Dutch mainrained an open-door policy, but because of thev number ofv refugees set up camps. An estimated 30,000 Jews sought refuge in the Netherlands.
The Dutch were neutral during World War I. There was considerable sympathy in the Netherlands for the Germans during World I. The Dutch offered asylum to
the Kaiser at the end of the War and refused to turn him over to the allies for trial. After the war, the Dutch supported charities offering relief to children in both Germany and Austria. The Dutch hoped to remain neutral in World War II, but were invaded by the NAZIs as part of their Western offensive. The Dutch Air
Force was destroyed and the country capitulated after the Luftwaffe terror bombing of Rotterdam. The NAZIs occupied the Netherlands for 4 years. .
Some German Jews had fled to the Netherlands before the War began. Dutch Jews had heard rumors of what had happened in Poland. Many had thought that they were safe in the Netherlands. Most Dutch thought that the Germans would respect Dutch neutrality as they had in World War I. They were wrong. The Germans invaded and occupied the country in only a few days (May 1940). The terror bombing of Rotterdam and threats of similar bombings of other Dutch cities convinced the Dutch that resistance was futile. Queen Wilemina fled with her family to England. Hitler appointed an Austrian, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, who had been involved in the administration of occupied Poland to seve as the NAZI governor of occupied
Poland. In his first addressed to the Dutch people, Seyss-Inquart assured the Dutch people that Germany would not impose NAZI ideology and that they would respect existing Dutch laws. Unlike Poland thaere were no mass killings of Jews
or burning of syynagoges as German soldiers occupied the country. The NAZIs administered the Netherlands differently than other occupied countries in the West (Belgiumm Denmark, and France). Most scholars believe that if Germany had won the
War that the Netherlands would have been annexed to the Reich. The Dutch population was in fact more Aryan than the German population and thus for the race-obsessed NAZIs like Hitler and Himmler it would be a valuable addition to the Reich.
Seyss-Inquart ruled by decree. Over the 5 years he governed the Netherlamds (1940-45), he issued hundreds of decrees. Contrary to his pledge, he turned the Netherlamds into a throughly NAZI police state. Many of his decrees were
inconsequential, but slowly they created thge circumstances that permitted the NAZIs to murder most Dutch Jews.
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