The Committee for Jewish Refugees (Dutch: Comité voor Joodsche Vluchtelingen) was a Dutch charitable organization. It operated from 1933–1941. At first, it managed the thousands of Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Nazi regime in Germany. These refugees were crossing the border from Germany into the Netherlands. The Committee largely decided which of the refugees could remain in the Netherlands. The others generally returned to Germany. For the refugees permitted to stay, it provided support in several ways. These included direct financial aid and assistance with employment and with further emigration.
Then, in 1938 Germany annexed Austria and the Sudetenland regions of Czechoslovakia. Many refugees then came from those regions as well. On the night of November 9, 1938, there were violent pogroms against Jews across the German Reich, and the imprisonment of thousands of Jews without charges. This led to a further increase in the number of Jews streaming across the border seeking refuge and further emigration. Ultimately, the Committee had become "one of the most powerful organizations in Dutch Jewry in the 1930s."
World War II started in September 1939. The Netherlands were invaded and occupied by Germany in May 1940. The Committee continued its work until Germany closed it in March 1941. One of the Committee's main goals had been to help Jewish refugees emigrate. About 22,000 refugees had left the continent of Europe with the Committee's help. These refugees thus escaped murder in The Holocaust. Germany occupied the Netherlands until 1945. About 100,000 Jews from the Netherlands were deported and killed during the German occupation.
- 1 Establishment
- 2 Employees
- 3 Tasks and departments of the Committee
- 4 Connections of the Committee
- 5 Problems encountered by the CJV
- 6 Dissolution of the CJV
- 7 See also
- 8 Sources
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
The Committee for Jewish Refugees (CJV) in Amsterdam was established in April 1933, and disbanded in 1941. It was an offshoot of the Committee for Special Jewish Affairs (Dutch: Comité voor Bijzondere Joodsche Belangen - CBJB), which was founded in 1933 by Abraham Asscher and David Cohen. The committees were a response to the tide of refugees who were entering the Netherlands from neighboring Germany in 1933. The National Socialist (Nazi) party had taken power there early in the year. Their regime had promptly instituted laws and measures that discriminated specifically against Jews. Hundreds of thousands of Jews and others began to flee Germany.
The CJV was charged with direct services to the early refugees. André Herzberger was the first chairman of the committee. He was soon succeeded by Dr. David Cohen, who held the position until the CJV was dissolved in 1941. Until 1939 the Committee was located at 'Gravenhekje 7 in Amsterdam. It selected some refugees for assistance with housing, expenses, and employment as well as with further emigration beyond the European continent. Other refugees were denied assistance. Most of them had to return to Germany. The premise of the Committee was that its work would be in accordance with the Dutch government's refugee policies. In addition, the Committee did not receive financial support from the Dutch government, but instead paid for its work through the charitable contributions of private Dutch citizens and of several international organizations.
The Amsterdam Committee was the most prominent of many Committees for Jewish Refugees in the Netherlands. Particularly active provincial committees included those in Rotterdam, The Hague, and Enschede. The abbreviation CJV is generally applied to the Amsterdam Committee, which managed work permits, entry visas and identity passes. The CJV also represented the provincial committees to the Dutch government and to the other organizations that supported the refugees both in the Netherlands and abroad. The provincial committees reported to the central committee in Amsterdam about the situation of refugees in the provinces and provided accounting for their local contributions and their expenses to the Amsterdam committee. Some of the provincial committees were able to contribute financially to the central committee, whereas others received additional support from the central committee beyond what they could raise locally.
The committee had more than a hundred paid and volunteer staff. The composition varied greatly, since the staff was largely recruited from the ranks of the refugees, and they would succeed in emigrating or return to Germany. Everyday affairs of the CJV were managed by Raphael Henri Eitje and Gertrude van Tijn-Cohn. Eitje was from the Hachnosas Ourechim, an organization that provided help and shelter in Amsterdam to Jewish refugees. van Tijn was from the Jewish Women's Organization (Dutch: Joodse Vrouwen Organisatie). Cohen focused in particular on his work for the CBJB, which meant that he brought refugee interests to the attention of the Dutch Government and contacts with other Jewish organizations. He also represented the Dutch Refugee Council at international meetings of refugee organizations.
Eitje was instructed to maintain contact with the Dutch authorities. He led the department responsible for passes and work permits. van Tijn was responsible for the initial reception of refugees, i.e. the intake interviews and registration, housing and food distribution. Then she was responsible for managing the finances, she headed the department for emigration and professional training and became the contact person for foreign aid organizations. She made reviews of the work done by the refugee committee and suggested annual and monthly reports together.
After the Kristallnacht pogroms in Germany and Austria on 9–10 November 1938, there was a great increase in the number of refugees coming to the Netherlands. Dr. Erich Rosenberg, who had been working privately to facilitate the emigration of Jews away from Germany, joined the CJV as Head of the Welfare Department at this time. He shared daily management of the CJV's work with Gertrude van Tijn. Like van Tijn, during the German invasion of May 1940 he declined the opportunity to leave the Netherlands. He and van Tijn continued their work with the CJV through its dissolution in March 1941.
Tasks and departments of the Committee
The events in Germany and the measures taken by the Dutch government had influence on the work of the Committee for Jewish Refugees. The emphasis increasingly shifted from providing for its own maintenance to managing the increasingly large flows of refugees and promoting emigration. Some reorganization was needed to meet the new demands made to the organization. Although the departments sometimes changed, the tasks performed by the Committee remained broadly similar.
All refugees from Germany were registered upon arrival. Refugees who would be financially independent while in the Netherlands were generally able to stay. For the others, only some were selected to receive assistance from the CJV; "economic" refugees were denied assistance and generally had to return to Germany. These policies were developed in concert with the Dutch government, which was unwilling to provide financial support to the refugees and expected such support to come primarily from the CJV. There were several motivations. By wielding strict criteria for admission, the CJV could give greater help to those that were eligible for support. Strict policies were also seen as deterring flight from Germany to the Netherlands, which could have overwhelmed the resources of the CJV. According to historian Dan Michman, an average of 60% of the refugees were turned away during the first years. Sometimes the number of refugees turned back was as high as 90%.
For selected refugees, the Welfare Department assisted with shelter, food, clothing and, if necessary, medical assistance.
In the first few years, some selected refugees were able to secure employment or start small enterprises. The CJV mediated with the Dutch government for residence and work permits and ensured the periodic renewal of these licenses. The CJV also provided small loans to establish or maintain an enterprise. Over time the refugees were typically less able to pay back the loans, but collection efforts were minimal since without these enterprises the expenses of the refugees would have been borne by the Committee.
The Committee brokered with the Vreemdelingenpolitie (lit. Aliens Police) for entry visas for refugees. The Dutch government policy was aimed at minimizing the numbers of entry visas that were granted to refugees, with priority to those refugees whose further emigration looked likely. The promotion of emigration was therefore one of the main tasks of the Committee. Over the years, the Emigration Department helped more than 18,000 refugees emigrate from the Netherlands, as well as assisting the direct emigration of more than 3,000 people in other countries.
Some refugees whose work experience was not suitable for further emigration were retrained as skilled workers. The Vocational Training Department also arranged for training at two sites. The Foundation for Jewish Labor (Dutch: Stichting Joodsche Arbeid ) operated the Nieuwesluis Work Village (Dutch: Werkdorp Nieuwesluis) in Wieringen. The Association for Professional Training of Palestine Pioneers (Dutch: Vereniging voor Vakopleiding van Palestina Pioniers) operated in Deventer and specifically facilitated emigration to Palestine.
The refugee committee held twice weekly office hours for German Jews who were registered with the Committee. They could go for information on passports, work permits, education of children, emigration possibilities and taxes.
After the Kristallnacht pogroms on 10 November 1938, many refugees who fled to the Netherlands were accommodated in camps, and a Camp Division was formed. The representation of the interests of these people, provision of clothing, a cash allowance, and advice on possible emigration was the task of the Camp Division. When the Dutch government decided to build a Central Refugee Camp (Dutch: Centraal Vluchtelingenkamp) near Westerbork, the CJV was required to raise more than 1 million guilders to underwrite the expenses of operating the camp.
The refugee camps continued to operate after the German invasion and occupation of the Netherlands in May 1940. In 1942, the Central Refugee Camp was converted by the German authorities into the Westerbork Transit Camp (German: Durchgangslager Westerbork). It temporarily housed Jewish and other prisoners before their deportation to other countries. Most of the deported prisoners, more than 100,000, were murdered at Auschwitz and other concentration camps.
Kindertransport and the Children's Committee
Following Kristallnacht in November 1938, a Kindertransport was organized to move children - without their parents - to countries outside of the German Reich. In the Netherlands, Truus Wijsmuller-Meijer negotiated an agreement with the Dutch government to accept 1500 children who were en route to Great Britain and other countries. The CJV secured a grant of $50,000 ($800,000 in 2014 value) from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee for the expenses of these children, and furthermore underwrote their full expenses while they were in the Netherlands. Many of these children were placed in homes in Great Britain. The Kindertransport from the Netherlands ended with the German occupation in May 1940. On 14 May 1940, the very last group of 74 children departed from IJmuiden port (near Amsterdam) on the SS Bodegraven. The ship also carried about two hundred other refugees, leaving many more ashore. Wijsmuller-Meijer and Gertrude van Tijn from the CJV accompanied the children to the ship, and then returned to Amsterdam.
Connections of the Committee
The CJV placed some younger refugees in the Werkdorp Nieuwesluis (lit. Work Village Nieuwesluis) in Wieringen. The Work Village was established in 1934 on an area of 300 hectares (740 acres). 16 to 25 year olds were trained in agriculture and horticulture with a view to emigration to Palestine, which was called "Hakhshara". Gertrude van Tijn was the co-founder and secretary of the Work Village. She worked here with the Stichting Joodse Arbeid (Foundation for Jewish Labor) that had the practical control of the labor settlement. The Work Village was closed in August 1941 by the German occupation authorities.
In 1938, photographer Roman Vishniac photographed Werkdorp Nieuwesluis under a commission from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. An archive of these photographs is available through the International Center of Photography.
Jewish Press Commission
The Jewish Press Commission was a subcommittee of the CBJB which was co-financed by the CJV. The Jewish Press Commission informed the Dutch press and individuals on the situation of the Jews in Germany. This committee received material from the Jewish Central Information Office (run in Amsterdam and, after 1939, in London by Dr. Alfred Wiener), from the international Jewish organizations, and from world press reports regarding the anti-Semitic policies of the German regime. The Jewish Central Information Office also received a small grant from the CJV.
In 1936 at the initiative of the CJV and the Jewish Women's Organization a clubhouse (Dutch: clubhuis) was opened where German refugees could spend their afternoons and evenings. There was a library and language courses were organized. There were also sports facilities, and concerts and lectures were presented. The CJV subsidized the club and was in close contact with its management.
Westerbork Central Refugee Camp
After the Kristallnacht pogrom against Jews in Germany that occurred from 9 to 10 November 1938, there was an increase in the number of Jews from Germany seeking refuge in the Netherlands. The Dutch Department of Justice selected the refugees who would be permitted to enter. The Jewish Refugee Committees created lists of refugees who were eligible to submit for entry. The Dutch government proposed the requirement that these new refugees be housed in camps instead of being housed privately, and that the CJV would facilitate their further emigration as soon as possible. The Committee did not influence the number of refugees who would be allowed, but it was asked to financially guarantee the shelter in the camps. The Dutch government did not accept responsibility for the refugees. Within the three days required by the Dutch government, the CJV was able to underwrite the operating expenses of the camp with a sum of one million guilders.
The Central Refugee Camp (Dutch: Centraal Vluchtelingenkamp) was built in Hooghalen near Westerbork. The first 22 refugees entered the camp in October 1939. After the German occupation of the Netherlands in May 1940, this Camp became a transit camp for Jews and others who were being transported as prisoners to concentration camps in Germany and other countries.
Problems encountered by the CJV
Money problems, the increasing flow of refugees, and the increasingly stringent policies of the Dutch government made the work of the Committee increasing more difficult as the years passed. After May 1934, obtaining a work permit was no longer possible for refugees whose work could be performed by a Dutchman. By the end of 1937 the government had made it virtually impossible for a refugee to start a business. Ultimately, refugees could no longer get work and residence permits at all. Consequently, more and more refugees could no longer provide for themselves, and the Committee's expenses to assist their livelihood rose. The Dutch government's policy was aimed an encouraging refugees in the Netherlands to leave as soon as possible, either by returning to their home country, usually Germany, or by emigration. Unfortunately, obtaining emigration visas also became more and more difficult as the number of countries willing to accept refugees declined through the 1930s.
Dissolution of the CJV
After the German occupation in May 1940, the Committee's employees remained active, but no archival material was preserved to document their work. In March 1941, both the CJV and CBJB were dissolved by order of the German authorities, and their activities were transferred to the Jewish Council of Amsterdam (Dutch: Joodse Raad voor Amsterdam). On 29 September 1943, the last employees of the CJV who had not gone into hiding were sent to the Westerbork transit camp.
- Netherlands in World War II
- History of the Jews in the Netherlands
- Jews escaping from Nazi Europe to Britain
- Cohen, David (1955). Zwervend en dolend: de Joodse vluchtelingen in Nederland in de jaren 1933-1940. Met een inleiding over de jaren 1900-1933 [Wandering and going astray: the Jewish refugees in the Netherlands in the years 1933-1940. With an introduction for the years 1900-1933] (in Dutch). Haarlem: De erven F. Bohn. OCLC 459327937.
- Comité voor Bijzondere Joodsche Belangen (1938). De arbeid van het Comité voor Bijzondere Joodsche Belangen. Maart 1933-1938: Vij jaren vluchtelingenhulp [The Work of the Committee for Special Jewish Affairs. March 1933-1938. Five years of assistance to refugees.] (in Dutch). Amsterdam: Joachimsthal's drukkerijbedrijf. OCLC 28526162.
- Esh, Shaul; Michman, Dan (2007). "Cohen, David". In Skolnik, Fred; Berenbaum, Michael (eds.). Encyclopaedia Judaica. 5 (2 ed.). Thomson Gale. ISBN 9780028659329. OCLC 70174939.
- Jong, L. de (1969). Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog, deel 1 [The Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Second World War, Part 1] (in Dutch). Den Haag. OCLC 313666.
- Michman, Dan (1981). "The Committee for Jewish Refugees in Holland, 1933-1940". Yad Vashem Studies. Jerusalem. XIV: 205–232. No online access.
- Moore, R. (2012). Refugees from Nazi Germany in the Netherlands 1933–1940. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9789400943681. OCLC 12978293.
- Stegeman, H.B.J.; Vorsteveld, J.P. (1983). Het joodse werkdorp in de Wieringermeer, 1934–1941 [The Jewish Work Village in Wieringermeer: 1934–1941] (in Dutch). J.W. Reutlinger (contributor). Zutphen: Walburg Pers. ISBN 9789060111505. OCLC 12971718.
- Tijn, Gertrude van (1959). "Oh life of joy and sorrow : Laughter and tears". Center for Jewish History. Typescripts of van Tijn's unpublished memoirs are held by the Center for Jewish History. An early version was titled The World Was Mine 1890-1950. The Center has posted images for the typescript in two parts, each of which is separately paginated. Page citations in this article refer to the second part held by the Center.
- Wasserstein, Bernard (2014). The Ambiguity of Virtue: Gertrude van Tijn and the Fate of the Dutch Jews. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674281387. OCLC 861478330.
- Esh and Michman encyclopedia entry cited in the Sources.
- Wasserstein, p. 246. "Were it not for the work of Gertrude and her colleagues, the great majority of these 22,0000 or so German, Austrian, and Dutch Jews would probably have perished at the hands of the Nazis."
- Croes, Marnix (Winter 2006). "The Holocaust in the Netherlands and the Rate of Jewish Survival" (PDF). Holocaust and Genocide Studies. 20 (3): 474–499.
- David Cohen (1882–1967) was a prominent professor of ancient history at the University of Amsterdam as well as a passionate Zionist and a leader in the Jewish community of Amsterdam. He was the chairman of the CJV for nearly eight years until it was closed by the officials of the German military occupation. In 1941 he (and also Asscher) accepted membership in the Jewish Council of Amsterdam, which worked with the German occupation officials. In 1943, he was deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp near Prague, but survived. After World War II, he and Asscher were accused of collaboration in the massive deportations (and ultimate murder) of Jews from the Netherlands. See Esh and Michman's encyclopedia article in the Sources section.
- The present article was originally a translation of the Dutch Wikipedia article. That article is an adaptation (with permission) of the following: Balkenstein, E. (June 2005). "181b. Comité voor Joodsche Vluchtelingen" (in Dutch). NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
- Michman, pp. 208–211.
- Moore, p. 29.
- Michman, p. 214. "At the beginning of 1939, there were altogether sixty-nine Jewish refugee committees."
- Moore, pp. 28–29. "The CBJB acted as the representative body for all the provincial relief committees which had been set up by other Jewish communities, most notably in Rotterdam, The Hague and Enschede."
- Levitt, Ruth (28 August 2012). "Committee for Jewish Refugees in Amsterdam". Wiener Library.
Raphael Henri Eitje was the lynchpin of the Comité’s efforts. He had already been active in the Jewish community and continued during the occupation. Letters between him and Dutch and foreign government departments, police and local authorities try to secure work permits, passports or visas. He wrote to shipping companies and agents for timetables and to book passages. He sought temporary accommodation for refugees, introduced them to potential employers, arranged small financial payments, using a crucial network of contacts in the Netherlands and abroad, and links that the Comité had built with Dutch and foreign rescue and relief organisations. Eitje was deported with his wife and son to Bergen Belsen where they all perished in the winter of 1944-5.
- Many cities had Hachnosas Ourechim or Hachnosas Orchim organizations that sheltered Jewish immigrants and refugees; see also "The Jewish community of Almelo". dutchjewry.org. Amoetat Akevoth. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
- Ritchey, Dianne (26 March 2015). "Guide to the Papers of Gertrude van Tijn (1897-1974) 1934-1970". Leo Baeck Institute - Center for Jewish History. A summary of the short biographical note: van Tijn was born Gertrude Francisca Cohn in Braunschweig, Germany. She studied social work with Alice Salomon in Berlin. She moved to England in 1910, and then to the Netherlands in 1915 after the onset of World War I. In 1919 she married a Dutch engineer Jan van Tijn. They had one daughter and one son. From 1925 until 1932 they lived in South Africa, and then returned to Holland. She began work with refugees in 1933, and became head of the Emigration Department with the Committee for Jewish Refugees. She was also the secretary for Werkdorp in Wieringen. She and her husband divorced in the 1930s. At the outset of World War II, her children left the Netherlands. van Tijn remained in Holland and chose not to go into hiding because of her work assisting refugees. In September 1943 she was sent to the transport camp at Westerbork and then to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. In July 1944 she was among those Jews exchanged from Bergen-Belsen for Germans in Palestine.
- Bernard Wasserstein (see sources) published a biography of van Tijn in Dutch in 2013, and in English (The Ambiguity of Virtue) in 2014; see "Sources".
- Wasserstein, pp. 21–22.
- Tijn, part 2, p. 6.
- Marianne van Stedum was born 15 June 1885, and was murdered at Auschwitz 17 September 1943. See "Stambomen van Nederlands Joodse families"., "Family Page. Meijer Levie Van Stedum to Mosina West"., and Presser, Jacob (1988). Ashes in the Wind: the Destruction of Dutch Jewry. Wayne State University Press (reprint). p. 217. ISBN 9780814320365. OCLC 17551064.
- Born, Max (1978). My Life: Recollections of a Nobel Laureate. Scribner. pp. 252, 267. ISBN 9780850661743. OCLC 3844761.
... on July 2 1933 Hedi traveled to England to find accommodation for us. On the way she stopped at Amsterdam and spent a few days with our friend Erich Rosenberg, who was doing a marvellous job there in helping Jewish people to emigrate; he stayed in Europe as long as possible and went to America only when the occupation of Holland by Hiter's armies was imminent.
- Tijn, pp. 16–17.
- Rosenberg had arranged for his mother and the family of one of his brothers to leave on the SS Bodegraven in May 1940, but chose not to leave himself. See Tijn, Part 2, p. 42.
- Schnur, Harry C. (1992). "Bombs and Barbed Wire: The Story of My Escape from Amsterdam". In Tournoy, Gilbert; Sacre, Theodore (eds.). Pegasus Devocatus: Studia in Honorem C. Arri Nuri sive Narry C. Schnur. Leuven University Press. pp. 195–196. ISBN 9789061864745. OCLC 906605435.
Rosenberg, himself a refugee from Germany, had reorganized the Jewish Refugees Committee in Amsterdam. ... He would work ten hours or more every day, without salary of course, being himself a generous contributor. ... Having taken his mother to the cabin, he makes for the gangway. 'Where are you going?' I ask him. 'I am returning to Amsterdam. I have no family left in Amsterdam, and our refugees need me now more than ever. If the Nazis don't kill me outright, they, too, will need someone to continue the business of the Committee.' ... If our people had a Victoria Cross to give, it could grace no better man than Rosenberg.
- In August 1941 both Rosenberg and van Tijn were offered exit visas. At this time the CJV had been closed, although their work with refugees had continued in private and in conjunction with the Jewish Council. van Tijn persuaded Rosenberg to leave while she remained. See Tijn, Part 2, p. 42.
- Erich Rosenberg (1896–1971) was born in Berlin, Germany. He received a doctorate from the University of Frankfurt in 1922; his thesis advisor was Franz Oppenheimer. He had moved to the Netherlands by 1933. In August 1941 Rosenberg left the Netherlands for Spain and Cuba, ultimately landing in the United States in 1943. See Happe, Katja; Mayer, Michael; Peers, Maja; Dreyfus, Jean-Marc (2013). Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der europäischen Juden durch das nationalsozialistische Deutschland 1933–1945 [The Persecution and Murder of European Jews through National Socialist Germany 1933–1945] (in German). Band 5: West- und Nordeuropa 1940 - Juni 1942. Walter de Gruyter. p. 146. ISBN 9783486718614. OCLC 963760836.
- Michman, pp. 224–227.
- Moore, pp. 32–39.
- Moore, pp. 39–42.
- "Young Jews from the Netherlands". Retrieved 1 February 2017.
- Moore, p. 48.
- Moore, pp. 88–99.
- Haan, Ido de (2009). "Dutch-Jewish Political Representation before and after the Holocaust". Perush. 1.
- Wasserstein, pp. 50–52.
- Wasserstein, pp. 82–85.
- Van Tijn, Gertrude (January 1969). "Werkdorp Nieuwesluis". Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook. 14: 182–199. doi:10.1093/leobaeck/38.1.293.
- Benton, Maya. "Roman Vishniac: Werkdorp Nieuwesluis Agrarian Training Camp". International Center of Photography. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
- Michman, p. 208.
- "The Wiener Library and JCIO". The Wiener Library. Archived from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
- De Volkenbond: maandelijksch tijdschrift voor internationale vraagstukken, Volumes 13-14 (in Dutch). Vereeniging voor volkenbond en vrede. A. W. Sijthoff. 1937. p. 237.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Moore, p. 90.
- Vanderwerff, Hans. "Westerbork - Portal of Auschwitz". Archived from the original on 2 February 2002.
- Moore, pp. 42–52.
- Wasserstein, pp. 98–100.
- Tijn, Part 2, p. 66.
- Dwork, Deborah; Pelt, Robert Jan van (2003). Holocaust: A History. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 110. ISBN 9780393325249.
The Netherlands and Czechoslovakia also dropped paperwork and admitted 6,000 and 5,000 refugees, respectively. Holland's tiny Jewish community established a Comité voor Joodsche Vluchtelingen (Committee for Jewish Refugees), raising as much money as in France.