Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
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The Holocaust heritage in the Netherlands today is worse than you’d think

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Just published are two new excellent English pieces on the Holocaust in the Low Countries (sorry: paywall). I’m going to add what they left out.

The good were the 5% that fought the Nazis but were too modest to admit that after the war. The bad were the 90% that stood by, looked away, and never admitted guilt. And the ugly were the 5% who joined the SS, half of them falling in action, all of their families hiding anything had happened.

After years of gründlich preparations, the Dutch reopened the Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam. The giant brown-shirted elephant in the room is that I cannot visit the exhibition without a police escort! As a visible Jew, I cannot safely walk the streets of Amsterdam or use public transportation, for thirty years already. This has two reasons: The autochthone Dutch never told immigrants that Antisemitism is not allowed. (This way, the covert autochthone Jew hatred is obscured, and one could just blame the allochthone, which is such a nice way to perpetuate supremacy and racism.) And secondly, Dutch culture values cowardice more than heroism. If something bad happens, most of the Dutch won’t help. The idea that they could get tired or wounded or their clothes dirty makes it a no-no.

My mother used to say that you can’t blame anyone for not risking their life to fight the Nazi-German occupier, and I tend to agree with her, in her honor. She herself displayed unbelievable heroism, but you can’t demand that. However, I add that what I do resent is that after the war, the silent majority did not repent. The present King has recently admitted that the silence of his great-grandmother, the queen in wartime, sometimes keeps him up at night. That shows more character than in most of the Dutch.

Not caring and silence can kill. “A lack of caring enables all evil, including the Holocaust.” (Eli Wiesel); “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” (Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a rare German church leader who opened his mouth against the Nazi regime); “The road to Auschwitz was not built by hate, but paved with indifference.” (Renowned Holocaust Scholar Sir Ian Kershaw); “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transformation was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” (Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.); and “Indifference kills along with hatred.” (President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.)


The terms “resistance hero” and “foul in the war” have been part of the Dutch parlance ever since the war. But the new museum has banned them. Hero is too over-the-top. And “national traitor” is too opinionated. They are too polarizing and moralizing. Not Woke enough. Weren’t armed resistance fighters ‘objectively’ (for the Nazis) terrorists too? Let visitors make up their own mind about who were good and who were bad. Try a nuanced opinion without name-calling. But, this upset many. Rightly so.

Strange, also, a museum that hides the past. Really Woke would be to ask the visitors themselves what they think of the terms “resistance hero” and “foul in the war.” Are these obsolete or unhelpful; or helpful because they clarify that sometimes we need to choose good or we end up doing bad?

Also, the beautiful term de Jodenvervolging (The [only] persecution of Jews [in recent Dutch history]), coined by Prof. Loe de Jong in the early 1960s was overtaken by the hip, international, but wrong term Holocaust.

But the worst problem is not with the bad 5% that aided the Nazis. The real problem is with the silent majority, before, during, and after the war.

The new museum does not educate that in WW II, 90% did nothing. It is also cynically silent about the unbearable Antisemitism today, in the national news broadcasts, the national press reports, and in the street. As a museum, it talks about the past, and the future, but the present is taboo.

In fact, it’s sweet to call a spade a spade. Not vis-à-vis Jews but regarding the silent Dutch majority. How else can they ever hope to repent nationally (as Germany did) when every nastiness must be woked away?

And if the museum is not part of a solution, it’s part of the problem. Sadly.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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