Otto Bene on the evacuation of Jews from Holland (1942-43)

Otto Bene was a German diplomat and NSDAP (Nazi Party) member who was stationed in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation there. Bene was responsible for the evacuation of Jews from Holland. The following are extracts from his regular reports to Berlin:

July 31st 1942
“With the trains that went today, 6000 Dutch Jews have been deported so far. The evacuation as such went off smoothly and it is to be expected that the transports leaving in the coming weeks will proceed without difficulties or hindrance.”

August 13th 1942
“Since my report, mentioned above, the position has changed considerably. Now the Jews have found out what lies behind the evacuation and the mobilisation of labour in the East, they no longer report for the weekly transports. Out of 2000 called up for this week, only about 400 appeared. They are not to be found in their homes. This makes it difficult, therefore, to fill the two trains and it is not yet known how the trains are to be filled in the coming weeks.”

September 11th 1942
“It is estimated that about 25,000 Jews in the Netherlands are leading an ambulant existence, that is, they are in hiding. The evacuation figures have not been met so far. Various measures are in preparation to guarantee these figures in future.”

November 16th 1942
“Since my report dated September 11th 1942, the evacuation of the Jews to Auschwitz Camp has proceeded without difficulties or incidents. By October 15th approx. 45,000 Jews were evacuated. The Reichskommissar has ordered that all Jews must be evacuated by May 1st 1943. This means that the weekly evacuation figure has had to be increased from 2000 to 3500.”

January 6th 1943
“The evacuation of the Jews from the Netherlands has been proceeding smoothly since my report of November 16th 1942, with the result that half of the Jews due for evacuation have now been deported.”

March 26th 1943
“The following case shows how readily the Dutch still commit the offence of aiding and abetting Jews, either out of pity or avarice. Eight Aryans laid themselves open to prosecution on account of one Jew, whom they had supported and hidden among themselves for weeks… Even with the Dutch police, escaping Jews are mainly brought in only by individual officials who have already been working for the German police for some time. The majority of police officials, due to fear of their superiors, comrades and the population, do not intervene.”

April 30th 1943
“Various provincial authorities have reported suicides by Jews. The population, apart from friends made by mixed marriages, did not show any interest in the transports of Jews and seem to have become resigned to them.”

May 24th 1943
“The evacuations to the East were not disrupted by the strike disturbances and the deployment elsewhere of the police personnel. The 60,000th Jew has been deported for labour mobilisation in the East… The catching of escaping Jews in Amsterdam and in the provinces continues, in some cases with the payment of head-money [bounties] to Dutchmen.”

June 25th 1943
“Out of the 140,000 full Jews originally registered in the Netherlands, the 100,000th has now been removed from the national body… A last great increase was achieved on Sunday June 20th by a second large-scale Aktion in Amsterdam, when 5500 Jews were caught in a 24-hour seizure… There were no incidents. The Dutch population disapproves of the deportations but seems to take an outwardly indifferent attitude.”