Amsterdam to Halt in Memory of Strike Over Nazi Persecution of Jews

In 1941, tram drivers objected to roundup of Jewish men, and a rare public show of disobedience spread across the city.

A tram passes pedestrians in the center of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
A tram passes pedestrians in the center of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.Credit: Bloomberg

Tram traffic in the Dutch capital will grind to a halt in commemoration of a general strike orchestrated 75 years ago in protest of Nazi persecution of Jews.

Amsterdam’s tram network – the city’s primary means of public transportation – will observe a moment of inactivity on February 25, 2016, the 75th anniversary of the 1941 strike following the roundup of 427 Jewish men, which began with the tram drivers, the Het Parool daily reported Monday.

The strike, a rare show of public disobedience over the fate of the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, spread from the tram company to other municipal departments, as well shipyards in the city’s north, the Hollandia-Kattenburg textile company and the De Bijenkorf chain of department stores.

Following the roundup on February 22- February 23, the Dutch resistance movement published a pamphlet which read: “Strike! Strike! Strike! Drop Amsterdam’s entire industrial life for one day: The factories, the workshops, the ateliers, offices, banks, municipal units and workforce!” The strike broadened the following days to include five other municipalities.

On February 25, Amsterdam’s municipality will open a photo exhibition on the lives of the Jews deported in the roundup at a square where the so-called February Strikes are commemorated annually.

Separately, the southern city of Vlissingen earlier this month announced it would erect a massive, 8.5-foot tall monument in memory of the 40 Jews deported to their deaths from the city in 1941.

The Netherlands has the highest number in Western Europe of Righteous Among the Nations – a title reserved for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews in the Holocaust. With 5,413 Righteous, it is second only to Poland’s 6,532. It also had the highest death rate among Jews in occupied Western Europe, in part due to widespread collaboration.

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