The Committee for Jewish Refugees in Holland: 1933-1940
In 1933, with the rise of the Nazi power in Germany, Amsterdam University professor David Cohen established the Committee for Special Jewish Affairs (CSJA), a secular body to coordinate and protest against what was happening to Jews in Germany. The activities of the CSJA increased rapidly with the arrival of Jewish refugees and it was widely supported by Dutch Jews. Refugees’ economic situation was carefully screened and the needy were often refused entry by haughty executives and had to return to Germany. Initially, government and local authorities were sympathetic to the organization’s efforts and Cohen, for his part, displayed loyalty, often even submissiveness, to the government. Cohen also initiated the setting up of committees for absorption of non-Jewish refugees. In 1938, when the refugee problem escalated, the Dutch government unexpectedly promulgated new laws banning the entry of Jewish refugees into Holland. The CSJA did not request government financial support for the Jewish refugees, including illegal immigrants interned in camps. Although Jews enjoyed equal rights, they were not widely considered an integral part of Dutch society at the start of World War II.