Nederlands Holocaust in Europe After 1945

Initial silence

After the war Auschwitz became the most important symbol for the entire holocaust. Hundreds of Auschwitz survivors have written down their memories of the atrocities - very often urged by those around them. Far more has become known about what went on in Auschwitz than, for example, in Belzec. There were hardly any survivors from the latter camp, where an estimate of 600,000 Jews were murdered. Only two prisoners managed to escape this camp; only one of them remained alive after the war. However, it took many years for the stories about Auschwitz to emerge and for the Holocaust to be discussed openly. Survivors of Auschwitz did not receive a warm welcome home, anywhere in Europe. After years of being fed anti-Semitic propaganda, the local population not only tended to blame the Jews for their fate, but people were far from happy to see the return of men and women whose jobs, homes, and possessions had been seized during their absence. And since a large part of Europe was in ruins, for most European Jews the options were clear: emigrating to Israel (once the state was declared), the United States (when the borders were opened in 1950), or remaining silent and unobtrusive.

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  1. Repatriated ex-concentration camp prisoners at the airport in Eindhoven. Several hundreds of Jews were brought back to the Netherlands by airplane. NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  2. This Jewish family succeeded in staying alive together in Dachau. Photo was taken upon their return at the airport in Eindhoven. NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
mass murder
perpetrators and victims
after 1945
guest book
initial silence
keeping the memory alive
holocaust denial
demjanjuk trial