The story of teenage diarist Anne Frank is known around the world. But a new survey suggests a “disturbing” lack of awareness of the Holocaust in the Netherlands. Where he and his family hid for years before being discovered in a Nazi concentration camp.
A Dutch Holocaust survivor and Jewish cultural leaders expressed dismay at the survey.
Which was released on Wednesday and suggested. That more than half of residents were not aware of the deportation. And killing of Jews from the country during World War II.
The survey, conducted by the New York-based nonprofit Claims Conference. And released ahead of International Holocaust Memorial Day on Friday. Found that 53% of respondents could not identify the Netherlands. As a country where the Holocaust occurred — up from 60% among millennial. And Gen Z respondents, meaning Less than 40 years.
Historians estimate that more than 70% of the Jewish population of the Netherlands was killed during the Holocaust. A total of more than 100,000. Frank hid with his family in a secret room in Amsterdam from 1942 to 1944. Before dying in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp a few weeks before his liberation.
Despite available evidence of the systematic murder of 6 million Jews. 12% of those surveyed told researchers. That the Holocaust was a myth or that the death toll was exaggerated. The highest number for any of the six nations recently surveyed. For the Netherlands, this rises to 23% of people under 40.
Previous Claims Conference research found that 15% of young. Americans also doubted the historical record of the Holocaust.
“Survey after survey, we are witnessing a decline in Holocaust knowledge and awareness. The trends in Holocaust denial and distortion are disturbing.” Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference, said in a press release accompanying the survey.
“It was disturbing to see that a large number of my countrymen. Whatever their religion, did not know enough about the Holocaust. Some of them, a small fraction, don’t even know about the Holocaust.” Dutch Holocaust survivor Max Arpels Ledger, 86. Told Todaystrendnews, News via video call from his home in Amsterdam.
After the deportation of Jews from the Netherlands began, Ledger was sent from Amsterdam. At the age of 6 to live with a foster family in the countryside of Friesland in the north of the country. He lived there for six years with Ype and Boukje Wetterauw and was never betrayed. By the people of the village, where he stood out with his dark hair and unusual name. The Wetterauws’ only child had before died in infancy.
Today, Ledger has warm memories of an otherwise dark time.
He remained close to the Wetterauws until they died and was named in their will. “I was their son,” he said.
A wooden horse and carriage that he played with his foster brother. Gerrit, is now at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Ledger spent years searching for his adopted sister Joke. Who lived with the family, without success.
Many other children who went into hiding, like Anne Frank, were not so fortunate. As she told countless classes of children over the years.
“When you sit in front of a class and your students are sitting on their stools. They hear a guy talking about the Holocaust and everyone does it and starts snorting,. He said, leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes.
“When you’ve lived through the Holocaust, it takes a lot of courage to continue doing things like this. the attitude is different in other countries, but I live here.”
A ‘red flag’ for education
Emil Schrijver, general director of Amsterdam’s Jewish Cultural Quarter. Said in an interview that the survey results should serve as a “red flag” for how schools deal with the Holocaust.
“A third of young people think it never happened, the number is wrong, it’s shocking. The answer is clear, there is only one practical response: education, education and education,” he said.
Skrijver noted that during protests against strict social gathering rules in the Netherlands. When the Covid pandemic began, some protesters wore yellow stars to mimic the badges. Jews were forced to wear in Nazi-occupied countries in an attempt to depict state oppression.
“We have a society where conspiracy theories are considered normal. Where people wore yellow stars during Covid protests. Which many people didn’t seem to mind. The amazing thing is not that people do it, there will always be idiots. It’s that people don’t object to it,” said Schrijver. Who is working on the new National Holocaust Museum due to open in Amsterdam in September.
Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema condemned. The yellow star-wearing protesters, with Schrijver saying national politicians were too slow.
Anna Hajkova, a historian at the University of Warwick in England, said the Netherlands played. A small role in the history of the Holocaust, but it was important in understanding the whole event.
“In the context of Western Europe, a large number of Dutch Jews were caught and deported. On top of that many Jews deported from the Netherlands died,” he said.
Hájkova’s work showed that about 70% of the Jews of the Netherlands, 100,657 people, were deported. From the Netherlands between July 1942 and September 1944 – of whom 57,552 were sent to Auschwitz. Only 854 returned, a very low survival rate compared to other countries.
“So the Netherlands, for a normal person who reads the newspaper. They might not know why the Netherlands is special. But for us as historians of the Holocaust, when you pay attention to detail. It’s extraordinary,” says Hojkova.
The possibility of terrorism was never far away.
One man – the father of a friend, who was a Nazi collaborator – encountered. The laser while he and his friends were walking on the beach.
“It wasn’t a real uniform but something like it with black shiny boots. Ledger remembered what the man was wearing. “He looked at each child and said to me: ‘I know you are a Jewish boy, we will come to get you.’ And he pointed his finger at my chest and I was so scared that I fell backwards on the floor. My clothes turned dark-blue between my legs.”
Ledger’s mother died in Auschwitz but he was reunited with his father in 1948. Ledger thought his stepmother was his biological mother. But later learned the truth from a member of the Jewish congregation in Amsterdam. She says she suffered physical and emotional abuse. At the hands of her stepmother, memories that are difficult to relive after all this time. And ran away three times to get back with Waitrose, once cycling 12 hours to get there.
In 1961, Ledger married Sophia, now 86, who had been hidden as a child by a Dutch family during the war.
Ledger says the story of the Holocaust should never be allowed to fade from memory.
“Because if you don’t know enough about the Holocaust. And you don’t know that so many people died because of Nazi oppression.” He said, “then you don’t know enough to be realistic about the future.”