Joods Maastricht

Website van de Joodse Gemeente Maastricht

The track to Auschwitz

This is a documentary that tries to answer a uncanny but logical question in a evocative manner: why was there no help? Why did hardly anybody try they to prevent in any way this mass murder? Why acted the world as if they didn't know anything about what has happened in the hell of Auschwitz, while they knew however in the mean time? Why didn't the Dutch Jews get food packs of the Red Cross? And why was there no shelter for them who survived the hell so often after the war?  And why were the windows of my father's shop broken after he got the shop back and he was allowed to build an existence?

Recently the Dutch Red Cross sincerely and profoundly apologized, after it has been proven after four years of research by a historian of NIOD that NOTHING has been done by the Dutch Red Cross for the Jews, not in the Netherlands and not in the concentration camps. After the war the return of the Jews was also a very traumatic tragedy.

When will follow the sincere and unequivocal apology by the Dutch police? By the Dutch government? And how about the court decision of today that the unacceptable and inflammatory statement by Mr. Khoulany, who preferred to call young Israeli's as “future child-killers”, does not fall within the category of discrimination, because antisemitism is not the same as antizionism! Every man or woman who functions intellectually in a normal way knows that the difference between antisemitism and antizionism is paper thin, provided that a distinction can be made at all.


Last week I found a white envelope in letterbox. The letter was written by a Jewish doctor. The doctor wrote me that one of his patients, with clear psychic complaints has given him a Mezuza, because he wanted to get rid off this Jewish ornament. The non-Jewish patient did know where the mezusa came from, but he had a bad feeling about it. He knew that his grandparents profited from the fact that Jewish neighbours did not return. For the patient the mezuza was an object that he did not want or dare to keep in his own house. The mezuza survived the war, the neighbours did not. The patient felt its presence as a curse from which he tried to free himself. The mezuza, a wooden tube which contains almost forgotten bible verses, lays now with me on a bookshelve next to two silver kiddush cups. At one of them the name Bernhard is engraved and on the other one the name Sigmund. Cousins of my father's whom I never have known and about whom my father told me that they were two of his cousins killed, together with their wives and their children….. There is nothing left of them, no photo's, no offspring, no brothers no sisters. Just a silver Kiddush cup with a name on it, on my bookshelf, next to that small mezuza, which speaks volumes and is cherised by me.


I saw the documentary and I was shocked, but sadly enough not surprised. Had the track to be bombed or not? Expert opinions diverge on the subject matter. At the time there were no  smart bombs and above that the Germans would have repaired it in a short time, no lack of slaves. In Budapest, where they bombed the railway-bridges they murdered the Jews on the spot. A Roman-catholic pastor dragged 119 Jews from some retirement home. The were placed against the wall and shot, and the priest shouted in the name of Jesus ... Fire!!

This is the story of a Jewish survivor of Budapest.

On October 2nd I attended a memoral of the great razzia that, uncanningly well prepared, took place that night seventy five years ago in the Northern provinces of our country. The major who is now in charge rejected antisemitism in sharp words. Nevertheless he was wondering what would he have done during the war.

After him a survivor was given the floor. The coldness and the laxity during and after the war tormented him at most. The neighbours were after the war visibly disappointed, because they survived and came back. Friends who detached themselves without any pressure from those who were their friends once upon a time, they were just Jews.

That is what I see in this documentary. It is not about whether the rails should have been bombed or not. It is about a problem that is much more pregnant: how is it possible that the world looked the other way? Yes there were heroes who saved the life of my mother's risking their lives. But the number of "resistance fighters" or better "people who remained a Mensch" was alarmingly small. Yes, the number of collaborators was not very big. But on whose side was the majority?

And in which direction does the majority go to, now or in the future?

Before the Jews were set free from the Egyptian slavery, there were first the ten plagues. The first plague was the transformation of the cold water of the Nile into warm blood. The simple meaning is obvious. The Nile, being the economic artery of perverted Egypted was hit. Money, fame, and self-interest had to be overruled and annihilated before being released from evil. A deeper meaning is that the coldness of the water of the Nile symbolizes coldness and laxity. That cold water, the indifference and turning away, had to be transformed into warm blood, engagement with fellow men, sincere kindnes.

The railroad track to to Auschwitz is not about the bombing of the rails, but about the freezing and inhuman coldness, which must be transformed by us, being today's audience, in order to prevent that...


At the end of the meeting I said the following:


The comparison that is often made between the letting in of Jewish fugitives and the flow of refugees is not enirely correct. The Jews of those days did not have any intent to kill or convert non-Jews.

Many of the fugitives of today are convinced that Jews may be killed and that women are utensils. Are they guilty of that? Absolutely not! That is way they have been raised. We, Dutchmen, fail by just giving only a bed, bath, and bread and not enough basic norms. Of course they need to be received, but we are also obliged to help with further integration and hence to give them some essential re-education, so that they will become worthy citizens in Dutch society.

Binyomin Jacobs, opperrabbijn

Handing over of the de documentary “Het Spoor naar Auschwitz” November 8, 2017