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Novosti News

30.7.2016. 8:56
Beyond Anne Frank: The Dutch Tell Their Full Holocaust Story

A memorial at the Hollandsche Schouwburg in Amsterdam. Anne Frank’s diary has long been the dominant narrative of the Netherlands’ experience during the Holocaust, but the Dutch are trying to tell a more complete story of the Nazi occupation. Credit Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times 

AMSTERDAM — Anne Frank is only part of the story.

The diary of the young Jewish girl, who came of age hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam, has long been the dominant narrative of the Netherlands’ experience during World War II. Hers is a story of inspiration and resistance that in many ways the Dutch have promoted and chosen to remember.

But the rest of the story of the Holocaust in the Netherlands has gone largely untold, and survivors and others fear that it is in danger of being forever forgotten.

S o it was that after a 10-year struggle, the City Council in May approved a location for a memorial wall for the roughly 102,000 Dutch Jewish victims of the Nazis. The decision coincided with the opening of the National Holocaust Museum, a separate and sometimes competing effort to build a permanent home in Amsterdam for exhibitions about the Holocaust and other genocides.

Together, the new projects reflect a movement among a second and third generation of postwar Dutch Jewish leaders to balance what they feel is an incomplete, or even distorted, understanding of what happened during the five years of Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

Jacques Grishaver, a Jewish “hidden child” born in Amsterdam in 1942, is the chairman of the Auschwitz Committee. The committee fought for 10 years to build a memorial wall to commemorate Dutch Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Credit Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times 

Between 75 and 80 percent of the Netherlands’ Jews were killed during the war, the highest rate in Western Europe. Although about 150,000 Jews were living in the Netherlands in 1940, including about 25,000 German Jews who had come as refugees, only about 15,000 were counted during the postwar census of 1947.By comparison, neighboring Belgium lost about 40 percent of its Jewish population, and France lost about 25 percent.