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1945 The winter of starvation takes its toll

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Uilenburgerstraat © Kryn Taconis / Library and Archives Canada

Joop Zoutberg -‘It was everyone for themselves’

‘During the winter of starvation in 1944 many houses in the neighbourhood were demolished. If a building became empty then anything that could be burnt for fuel was taken out of it. I always walked round with small crowbar in my pocket just in case I came across something. I went into empty houses with my brother to see if we could find anything we could burn, sometimes we took out whole floor planks. All through the war trading continued on the Waterlooplein. We sold our wood there. A floor plank was worth about eighteen guilders.

That last winter it was everyone for themselves. I saw people die on the streets but it didn’t really bother me. By the Zuiderkerk the bodies were piled up with labels on the ankles with the name of the deceased. There wasn’t any wood to make coffins to bury the dead and they were nibbled at by rats at night. Ever so often the bodies were collected to be buried in quicklime in the Oosterbegraafplaats cemetery.


Source: Extract from Machteloos? Ooggetuigen van de Jodenvervolging. In cooperation with the author Anna Timmerman and Joop Zoutberg.

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1938 Many Jewish refugees after Kristallnacht

Many Jewish refugees flee to the Netherlands after Kristallnacht. Princess Juliana also feels connected to the Jewish community. But while more attention is drawn to the admittance of more Jews, NSB members threaten more intervention.

1940 Amsterdam occupied

Nothing changes too much for the Frank family in the beginning. Opekta moves to the Prinsengracht. During air raids bombs cause death and injury in Amsterdam.

1940  Amsterdam occupied

1941 Jews allowed to do and less

It starts with a cinema ban but rapidly Jews are banned from virtually all public places. Jewish children must attend separate schools. This also applies to Anne and Margot Frank.

1941  Jews allowed to do and less

1942 It becomes more dangerous for Jews

On her thirteenth birthday Anne Frank receives a diary. A few days later she writes about the situation in Amsterdam. The introduction of the Jewish star and the raids. In July the Frank family goes into hiding.

1942  It becomes more dangerous for Jews

1943 Deportations and attacks

While the Frank family is in hiding thousands of Jews are deported from Amsterdam. The resistance tries to hinder the deportations by attacks including one on the Public Registry. It doesn’t stop them.

1943  Deportations and attacks

1944 Discovered and arrested

On 4 August the people in hiding in the secret annex are discovered and arrested. From Westerbork they are taken to Auschwitz. When the Allies land in the south of the Netherlands there is hope that the country will be liberated. German soldiers and NSB members flee the country after Dolle Dinsdag (‘Mad Tuesday’).

1944  Discovered and arrested

1945 Joy and sadness

A celebration at the Dam on 7 May is ruined when people are killed after German soldiers shoot at the crowd. On 8 May Amsterdam is officially liberated. Otto Frank returns. He knows that Edith is dead. He only hears later that his two daughters have not survived.

1945  Joy and sadness

1946 Slowly the threads are picked up again

On 3 May 1946 the first official commemoration for those who died during the war is held. Anne Frank’s diary is published on 25 June 1947. Life in Amsterdam slowly gets back to normal. Of the 70,000 Jews who lived in the city in 1940 only 10,000 have survived the war.

1950 Lasting memory

Even five years after the liberation the reverberations from the war are still clearly noticeable. The Jewish community thanks Amsterdam for the help given to Jews with a monument.

1950  Lasting memory
  • 1950
  • To those who protected the Dutch Jews during the years of the occupation. Protected by your love. Encouraged by your resistance. Mourning with you.

    Part of the citation on the monument ‘Jewish Gratitude’
  • picture:Once a year, two minutes silence

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