The Controversial Stand of the Joodse Raad in Holland - Lodewijk E. Visser’s Struggle
The Jewish community had no authorized, central leadership when Germany invaded Holland. Dr. Marinus L. Kan unified the different elements, mainly Zionist, into a supreme body — the Jewish Coordination Committee (JCC) to represent Dutch Jewry. Visser, forced out of his position as president of the High Court of Holland, was appointed chairman of the committee. He advocated avoiding collaboration with the Germans and stressed that the Dutch authorities must accept responsibility for Jewish affairs. However, at the beginning of 1941, many anti-Jewish edicts severely restricted Jewish activity. The City Commander of Amsterdam ordered the diamond entrepreneur Abraham Asscher, Chairman if the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce, and Prof. David Cohen, a Zionist, to set up a Joodse Raad comprising twenty members. This was done and they presented themselves as the heads of the Jewish community, notwithstanding the lack of agreement of many Jewish leaders. Visser, in The Hague, refused to join. A week later many Jews were rounded up and sent to their deaths in Buchenwald and Mauthausen. De facto, Asscher and Cohen had become mere tools in the hands of the Nazis. Gradually, the JCC ceased to wield power and Asscher and Cohen pushed the Germans to accept the Raad as the official representative body of the Jews. Visser attempted to intervene against the deportation of Jews to Mauthausen, but his many efforts came to naught. He died of a heart attack in February 1942. The last part of the article presents documentation of the correspondence between Visser and Cohen.