Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Strike of February 1941

On 25 February 1941 Amsterdam was seized by a general strike in protest against the persecution of the Jews. One day afterwards the strike spread to the Zaanstreek (Zaan-area), Kennemerland (Haarlem and Velsen), Hilversum, Utrecht and Weesp. In Amsterdam public transport came to a complete standstill and nearly all other council-services went on strike as well. Tools were downed in shipbuilding and steel industry in the North of Amsterdam, at the company of Hollandia-Kattenburg and also in large multiple stores like Bijenkorf. City-wide shops and offices were closed. Many pupils left their classrooms. That day large crowds of people were constantly on the move in the centre of Amsterdam. Restrained emotions sought a way out, people wanted to openly oppose the German occupation troops, that had attacked our country on 10 May 1940 and no longer disguised their intentions to force their regime on us.

The statue of The Dockworker commemorates the Strike of February. It is at the Jonas Daniël Meijerplein. By striking, the people showed their protest against the razzias held on February 22nd and 23rd. On that occasion 427 Jewish men at the age of 18 to 35 years were rounded up at the Jonas Daniël Meijerplein ande deported to the concentration camps Mauthausen and Buchenwald. They died within a year.
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The Germans were baffled. They had never come across a strike against anti-Semitism and persecution of the Jews. Yesterday there was a ceremony in Amsterdam where several guests spoke about the happening 65 years ago. Amsterdam is still a city where racism, anti-semitism and discrimination will not be accepted by its residents.