The Dutch branch of the Red Cross did “little or nothing” to help Jews during the Holocaust, research commissioned by the Red Cross found.
The Dutch branch of the Red Cross did “little or nothing” to help Jews persecuted by the Nazis in the Netherlands during the Holocaust or those transported to camps elsewhere in Europe, a historian said Wednesday.
The conclusions come in a book by Regina Grueter of the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies following a four-year investigation commissioned by the Red Cross.
“The central board of the Red Cross in The Hague, bluntly put — but this is blunt — abandoned the Jewish population,” Grueter said at a book launch in Amsterdam. “On the one hand it has, clearly unwillingly, carried out anti-Jewish measures of the occupiers. On the other hand, it did little or nothing to help Jews.”
The book, titled “Questions of Life and Death: The Netherlands Red Cross in the Second World War,” is the latest contribution to decades of Dutch soul-searching about the country’s World War II legacy.
Around 140,000 Jews lived in the Netherlands before the Holocaust. Of those, 107,000 were deported to Germany and only 5,200 survived. Some 24,000 Jews went into hiding, of which 8,000 were hunted down or turned in.
Grueter said the Red Cross also failed Jews and political prisoners sent to Nazi camps by not doing more to get aid to them.
“I don’t believe that a package from the Red Cross probably would have made much of a difference,” Auschwitz survivor Frieda Menco said in a comment included in the research. “But the idea that somebody in the Netherlands was thinking about you? Yes, that certainly would have made a difference.”
The current chairwoman of the Dutch Red Cross board, Inge Brakman, apologized unreservedly to the Jewish community at the book launch.
Red Cross ‘Shirked its Duties’ During Holocaust
The Red Cross “shirked its duties during World War II,” Brakman said. “It is undoubtedly painful to face up to that, but we must.”
Already in 2015, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer conceded that “the ICRC failed to protect civilians and, most notably, the Jews persecuted and murdered by the Nazi regime. It failed as a humanitarian organization because it lost its moral compass.”
“The ICRC did not see Nazi Germany for what it was. Instead, the organization maintained the illusion that the Third Reich was a ‘regular partner,’ a state that occasionally violates laws, not unlike any army during World War I, occasionally using illegal means and methods of warfare,” he stated during an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps.
The ICRC was the principal humanitarian institution during World War II, maintaining communications with both the Allied and Axis powers. While the ICRC did provide assistance and protection to Allied prisoners of war held by Nazi Germany, it did not do the same for Jewish victims, as Nazi Berlin refused all humanitarian requests to help Jewish victims.
At the same time, the ICRC did not publicly denounce the deportation of Jews to concentration camps.
By: AP and World Israel News Staff