The Anne Frank myth: How Dutch authorities manipulate her diary to boost the Netherlands’ image

In an effort to combat forays into the international public conscience suggesting that Dutch businessmen, civil servants and the public at large were ‘not nice at all’ – to put it mildly – during and after the Holocaust, this month the international media was presented with ‘new findings’ suggesting that Anne Frank was ‘not betrayed’ by an anonymous Dutch citizen, but that she and her fellow Jews-in-hiding had been stumbled upon by the SS.

“New findings”

The ‘new findings’ were presented by none other than the Anne Frank Foundation. The Foundation says it had stumbled upon this new perspective after rereading Anne Frank’s diary. On March 10, 1944 Anne wrote “we are out of food stamps” after two men in the same building were detained for illegally trading in food stamps. On March 22nd Anne wrote that the two men had been released. After rereading these entries the Anne Frank Foundation decided to “research documents from police and the justice ministry” in order to uncover how the SS had found the secret annex. Following lengthy research the Foundation came to the conclusion that: “Our research does not deny the possibility of betrayal, but it does demonstrate that other scenarios should also be considered.”

Holocaust was more of an “accident”

In October, the municipality of Amsterdam accidentally destroyed files relating to concentration camp survivors who had been fined for not paying property taxes while in Auschwitz. Recently, the autobiography of the Israeli-Dutch Holocaust survivor Carry Mass was published in the Netherlands. The revival of interest in the Dutch wartime past is of importance in the Netherlands because – with the exception of the country’s tiny Jewish community – only an extremely small percentage of the Netherlands’ law-abiding and conformist population has even an inkling of the extent of collaboration by Dutch authorities and the population at large during the Holocaust. Of course Dutch bureaucrats are even more concerned about the Netherlands’ image abroad, which is basically formed by respectable gobbledygook, such as the above gibberish from the Anne Frank Foundation.

The “Occupier” was responsible

The Foundation carefully omits any reference to Dutch complicity in the Holocaust, placing all blame on ‘the Occupier’. Despite the fact that there is overwhelming evidence demonstrating that Dutch officials, businessmen and the population at large collaborated with ‘the Occupier’.

In his article Wartime and Postwar Dutch Attitudes toward the Jews: Myth and Truth, the leading Dutch-Jewish Holocaust researcher Manfred Gerstenfeld debunks the massive carefully-construed fictional history of how the brave Dutch resistance defied the ‘Nazi occupiers’. If one were to take Elie Wiesel’s speech on the perils of indifference seriously one would arrive at the conclusion that Dutch authorities who want to cover up the past have very good reasons for doing so.

Change in attitude is now taking place

It is indeed an eye-opener to read Mr Gerstenfeld’s comments that since the Dutch wartime past is coming into the limelight “a change is now taking place”. Or, according to one Dutch Jewish leader, “We have to avoid falsifying history for money.” The article dates from 1999.

Eleven years later another surprising discovery took place. Between the years 1942-1945 some 5,000 Dutch farmers moved to Lithuania and Ukraine as part of an effort to Aryanize and repopulate the newfound Germanic territories. The Dutch settlers were fully aware of what was happening or had happened with the local Jewish population, but this did not bother them in the least. However they had not been sufficiently indoctrinated about the inferiority of the local Slavs; they were also accused of engaging in “Theft, swindle and exorbitant prices…Notorious for their trading skills, the Dutch became “white Jews” to the Germans.”

Since the Anne Frank Foundation is so adept in perusing Dutch wartime documents, perhaps the Foundation could look up the names of those who sold some 10,000 Jews who “were hiding from the Nazi occupiers”. Or the names of the more than 20,000 SS volunteers as well as the police officers, heath officials, bureaucrats, teachers, judges and businessmen who collaborated. Fat chance.

Separate development: Asscher leads Dutch Labor Party

Another somewhat Jewish news item from the Netherlands made world headlines last week: Lodewijk Asscher, deputy prime minister of the Netherlands, was elected as the new leader of the Dutch Labor Party. Mr Asscher will become the sixth hopefully charismatic leader of the Dutch Labor Party since the turn of the century to attempt to rebuild the solid base of what was once an institutional party. Some opinion polls show the party receiving just over five percent of the vote. Some consider the Dutch Labor Party to be left-wing in name only, with the exception of popular policies such as opposing Israel.

Mr Asscher immediately called for a new elan and forward-looking ideas to bring the party out of its doldrums. He also berated populist Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders for making discriminatory comments about Moroccans and Muslims. Mr Wilders also prides himself for his support for Israel.

Asscher attacked from all sides

A ludicrous twist to the story is that Mr Asscher is the great-grandson of Abraham Asscher, one of the two members of Amsterdam’s notorious Joodsche Raad (Cohen and Asscher). Like nearly all Dutch Jews, Cohen and Asscher at first fell prey to a carefully-spun web and believed that they could prevent the worst from happening to the – for the most part – well-integrated Dutch Jewish community. Then, after a lifetime (and centuries) of feeling safe and secure, most of the surrounding non-Jewish Dutch community changed its attitudes at breakneck speed. To this day few Dutch Jews have been able to figure out what hit them – or rather they prefer to keep their mouths shut.

After nearly the entire Jewish community had been deported Abraham Asscher, head of the diamond firm of the same name, found himself at the Dutch transit camp in Westerbork along with nearly a thousand other Dutch Jews who were kept there as a sort of ransom. He survived the war, but the Jewish community refused to allow his body to be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Abraham Asscher was perhaps the first Dutch Jew to be excommunicated since Baruch Spinoza in the 17th century.

Few in the Jewish community blame Lodewijk Asscher for the deeds of his great-grandfather. The attitude is more of ‘who cares’? After all, Mr Asscher should be judged for his own deeds and intentions. However in February of 2016 Mr Asscher’s biological antecedents were apparently discovered by an anti-Semite or Dutch Muslim adept at googling. The deputy prime minister became the target of vicious Facebook attacks. Muslim radicals accused him of being a ‘Zionist dog’ while anti-Semites wrote comments on Facebook such as “Lodewijk is Jewish and doesn’t celebrate Sinterklaas (the Dutch Sint-Nicolaas, December 5) at home. He wants to abolish Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) because he despises our culture.”

Dutch deputy PM celebrates Sinterklaas

However Mr Asscher’s mother and wife are not Jewish, nor does he consider himself Jewish. In his Facebook reply Respectloze hond (disrespectful dog) he writes: May I carefully offer you (plural) the advice that the next time you post or tweet such a comment you show it to your mother? Or to your daughter, for that matter? If they also think it’s a good idea, then place it. Get it out of your system.”

About the Author
Asaf Shimoni is an author, journalist and translator who returned to Israel in 2016 after spending 40 years abroad, most of them in the Netherlands. He grew up near Boston, made aliyah while living on a kibbutz (from 1973 to 1976), and graduated from Syracuse University in 1978. He also lived some 5 years in Sicily. He believes that the media should be as critical and truthful as possible.
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