Holocaust survivors were spied on as a “danger to democracy’

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Dutch Jews who survived the death camps and returned to the Netherlands were for years monitored by the Dutch secret service because they were considered to be extremists and a danger to democracy, the Parool reported on Saturday.

The revelations are based on documentation in the archives of the BVD, the precursor of the current AIVD security service, which the paper had access to via the National Archives.

Many Holocaust survivors were spied on until the 1980s, with the BVD reporting on memorial services and taking notes on who was in attendance, the paper said.

The Nederlands Auschwitz Comité, founded in 1956 by survivors, was also considered to be an extremist organisation and monitored, the paper said. The BVD even had a mole within the organisation who reported back on everything that happened.

None of the members are still alive but Jacques Grishaver, the current committee chairman, told broadcaster NOS the revelations are “shocking”. “People who came back from the camps, destitute, were seen as enemies of the state,” he said. “It is a massive scandal.”

The AIVD told the Parool the claims have to be seen in light of the Cold War and the rise of communism at that time. And a BVD letter from 1964 indicates that the BVD thought the Dutch communist party had a role in the committee.

“It could be that people were members of the CPN, but it was a respected party within a democracy,” Grishaver said. “That is no reason to view the committee as an extremist organisation.”

The Netherlands is still struggling to come to terms with the way it treated Jews who returned home in 1945 and whose property and possessions were stolen or lost.

Many councils were all but welcoming to Jewish citizens who returned to claim their homes after the war, even requiring them to pay tax over the periods they had been in hiding or in a camp.

Some 25 municipalities were involved in buying the real estate from the Germans themselves, and obstructed later attempts by owners to get their property back.

Only 35,000 of the country’s Jewish population of 140,000 survived the war and 102,000 of the 107,000 who were deported to death camps were killed.

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