Dutch King Returns From Winter Vacation To Commemorate Unique Strike

  February 25, 2016 at 6:27 pm by

King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands cut his winter vacation in Lech, Austria short to attend the 75th Anniversary of the Strike of February 1941. The commemoration took place at the statue of the docker at the Jonas Daniël Meijer Square, close to the two oldest synagogues of Amsterdam.

The February strike that took place on February 25th and 26th 1941 was the only strike of non-Jews in Europe under Nazi occupation to protest against anti-Jewish measures and activities of the Nazi’s. The direct cause of the strike were the progroms that were held by the Germans in the Jewish district of Amsterdam. The Nazi’s arrested 427 Jewish men from Amsterdam between the ages of 20 and 35. The progroms  happened in broad day light and during the weekend of 22-23 February. The Germans held a razzia at Amsterdam’s busy Jewish sunday market, to which still many non-Jews were allowed to go. The city and even the local police were in complete shock. Many Amsterdammers witnessed the arrests and were bewildered and furious.

The strike was mainly organised by members of the forbidden communist party. In the morning of the 25th the worker sof the trams in Amsterdam were the first ones to go on strike. At the same time communist resistance fighters were spreading leaflets at Amsterdam companies, with the message: ‘Strike! Strike! Strike!’. The general strike spread ‘like an oil slick’ over the city. In the afternoon the general strike was a fact, much quicker than the organisers had expected it to be. From Amsterdam the strike spread to other cities and villages around Amsterdam, among them Haarlem and Utrecht. It is estimated that 200.000 workers participated.

The Germans tried to end the strike by force and intimidation: 9 people were killed, 24 people were heavily wounded and a high number of others were arrested. The strike was ended by the communist party, as they already decided in advance that it could only last for two days. Cities that participated in the strike were forced to pay very high fines. Shortly after the strike the Germans started to hunt for the people who organised the strike. 18 of them were arrested and executed, 22 others were sentenced to 10 years in a house of correction.

The anniversary today was appropriately marked by the trams and ferries of Amsterdam. At 11AM all trams stood still for one minute of silence. The ceremony at the Jonas Daniël Meijer Square was attended by a record number of people. They listened to a speech of the mayor of Amsterdam.

Read more about the strike here.

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