|Directed by:||Willy Lindwer||Rating:||TV-PG|
|Release Date:||2004||Running Time:||90 mins.|
|Language:||Dutch & English (subtites)||Genre:||Documentary|
|More Info:||made by an Emmy Award Winning Director, nominated for Israeli Academy Award||Category:||Hist & Rem|
Anne Frank is perhaps the most familiar symbol of the Holocaust in Holland, but her most important legacy is not the diary she kept during her family’s two years in hiding from the Nazis. Rather, she is most important as a symbol of the senseless destruction of Dutch Jewry, and the deeply rooted anti-Semitism in Dutch society that allowed for — and even encouraged — the murder of more than 100,000 Jews. Goodbye Holland tells the tragic story of Dutch anti-Semitism and collaboration with the Nazis — which resulted in the largest proportion of Jewish fatalities in all of Western Europe — and reveals the shocking present-day anti-Semitism that continues in Dutch society, decades after the Holocaust.
“What happened was not just the result of German evil — the Dutch were not willing to save Jews because they perceived the Jew as ‘other’,” says Job Cohen, the son of Jewish Holocaust survivors and the current mayor of Groningen, once home to a vibrant Jewish community. The Dutch were “fully at the disposal of the Nazis and in some cases, the Germans didn’t have to do anything,” because the Dutch willingly carried out the deportations.
Goodbye Holland reveals a terrifying history of collaboration between ordinary Dutch citizens and the Nazi regime. Through first-hand interviews, Director Willy Lindwer weaves together his narrative of the conspiracy that led to the near-annihilation of an entire population. He speaks with former members of the Dutch police force who operated under Nazi occupation, and meets with Dutch Holocaust survivors, and children of survivors like himself. Through it all, he investigates the truth behind the betrayal of an aunt and uncle in hiding, as well as the story of his parents’ survival, as they were hidden in a nearby home.
According to Cohen, classic Christian anti-Semitism was rampant among the religiously-devout gentiles of Holland, and in the wake of the economic recession that preceded the Nazi occupation, anti-Jewish sentiment reached an all-time high in prewar Netherlands. Many Dutch became willing collaborators, betraying Jews who were in hiding, like the Frank family, and actively participating in the destruction of Holland’s Jews. Others merely “looked the other way, so they didn’t have to see anything.”
Cohen goes further to show that Dutch anti-Semitism didn’t die with the defeat of the Nazi regime. Indeed, the few Jews who did survive were met with cold hostility when they returned to the Netherlands. When the war was over, Lindwer’s parents found their home had been taken over by strangers, and they had to fight a year-long battle to get it back. Other survivors relate stories of household effects that went unreturned after the war and of assets that were held by the Dutch government. In a particularly shocking scene, Cohen reveals that taxes for war-years properties were issued to surviving Jewish children of parents who had been deported and exterminated.
The emotional trauma inflicted by the Holocaust continued in the aftermath of the war, particularly among orphans who were adopted by gentile families. When Jewish family members tried to establish contact with these orphans after the war, their attempts were often rejected by Dutch court rulings. The children were left without any connection to family, identity or community.
And Cohen shows that the anti-Semitism continues to this day. Even though the Dutch chief of police during the war was a Nazi party member who oversaw the deportation of Holland’s Jews, a former Dutch police officer who participated in the roundups and deportation of Holland’s Jews stands firm in his assertion that the Dutch chief of police was a “righteous man” who did not deserve the ten-year sentence he received after the war.
In an even more startling moment, the former officer’s wife concurs. After all, she says, “my mother used to say if the war ends at noon, five minutes later the Jews will have cheated you again.”
As Goodbye Holland uncovers the complicity of the Dutch government and community in Hitler’s war against the Jews, it is ultimately most shocking for what it reveals about contemporary Dutch society. Decades after the country sent nearly its entire Jewish population to its death, anti-Semitism lives on.