Arnon Grunberg



Once more on Anne Frank – Ruth Franklin in NYRB:

‘But the problems with this project are bigger than either the book or the investigation it purports to cover. The goal of the search, according to Bayens, was to “begin a public conversation” about tolerance and distrust as a bulwark against “incipient fascism” in Europe and elsewhere, while at the same time seeking justice for the Franks. That conversation has not happened. To the contrary: by focusing police-procedural style on the identification of a single culprit—a Jewish one, at that—the search for the betrayer of Prinsengracht 263 obscures the larger political realities of the Holocaust, in the Netherlands and elsewhere.
The software created for Pankoke and his team projected potential suspects onto a map of Amsterdam as colored dots, with members of the NSB (Dutch Nazi Party) appearing as blue, collaborators red, and informants yellow. The dots were “so close together,” Sullivan writes, “that they appeared as one large mass” over the neighborhood surrounding Prinsengracht 263. An SD informant owned a bike shop a block and a half away. A waiter whose name appeared on the Resistance’s “wanted list” lived a few doors down. Numerous NSB members lived in buildings bordering the courtyard. Pankoke later told a reporter that instead of who tipped off the police, the real question was how the inhabitants of the Secret Annex—Anne’s name for the hideout—stayed hidden.
Indeed, the number of possible suspects demonstrates just how dangerous the situation was for Jews in the Netherlands. Despite the widespread perception of the Dutch as a nation that largely resisted the Nazi occupiers—a perception that has been deeply challenged by historians in recent years—around 75 percent of Dutch Jews were murdered during the war, the highest death rate of any Western European country. As of early 1941, when the Nazis required Dutch Jews to register with the authorities, the community numbered around 140,000. About 107,000 were subsequently deported to camps, of whom fewer than 6,000 returned. About two thirds of the 25,000 or so Jews who went into hiding survived.
Historians have posited a number of factors to explain the low survival rate of Dutch Jews. The Netherlands is a low-lying, flat country without the dense forests that partisans and others were able to take advantage of elsewhere in Europe. Since Dutch society was relatively segregated, Jews were unlikely to have close non-Jewish friends who would help them find hiding places or support them in hiding. (This was not true for the residents of the Secret Annex, who were sustained by Otto’s employees.) But most significant seems to have been the general Dutch propensity—among Jews as well as non-Jews—to comply with the law.’

Read the article here.

I’m not sure if Dutch society was more segregated than French or German society. It depends. The Jewish lumpenproletariat in Amsterdam did not have many connections, but the lack of connections is characteristic for the lumpenproletariat.

The civil servants in the Netherlands, the Dutch government on all levels and its civil servants by and large worked together with the Germans.
The police worked with the Germans.
And the civil registry in the Netherlands worked amazingly well. The Dutch bureaucracy just was a tad too flawless.

But this does not mean of course that the Dutch were more antisemitic than the Latvians or the Ukrainians.

Also, Calmeyer is a rather complicated person, maybe more so than you would believe based on this article, he saved Jews, but he condemned others. Many mass murderers saved some Jews. The more you kill or have killed the easier it is to save one or two.

And for some Dutchmen betraying Jews was just a business model. You made some money with the betrayal, and there was nothing more to it.

Furthermore, the Franks were (higher middle class) German Jews. The German Jews who fled to the Netherlands before the war were not always warmly welcomed by Dutch Jews, not to speak of non-Jewish Dutch people. As some German Jews looked down upon the so-called Ostjuden, many Dutch Jews felt superior to the German Jews. There is always somebody to look down upon.

It’s also thanks to the fact that Otto Frank was running a successful business in Amsterdam that he managed to have contacts i.e. helpers to go into hiding with his family.

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