Refugees are sent back to Germany

1939 Zevenaar, Nederland

Between 1933 and 1938, about 25,000 German-Jewish refugees came to the Netherlands. Most of them used the Netherlands as a stopover and travelled on to other countries. The government did not want to attract refugees, and so they made it difficult for refugees to start new lives in the Netherlands.

In January 1938, strict measures were introduced. The government stipulated that, in principle, no more refugees were to be admitted. From that moment on, every refugee was considered an undesirable alien, unless there was evidence that their life was in danger.

When thousands of Jews fled Germany and Austria after the Kristallnacht, the pressure on the Dutch government increased. They decided to let in seven thousand people.

These refugees left Germany for fear of persecution. They ended up in camps, without any freedom of movement. Two thousand illegal refugees ended up in separate camps under military supervision.

Not only Jews, but social democrats and communists (the left-wing political opponents of the Nazis) also fled to the Netherlands. Some of them were also Jewish and faced double danger. The communists were supported by the Dutch Red Aid, a communist organisation that helped thousands of people. The Dutch government, on the other hand, opposed the arrival of the 'red refugees' and often sent them back. Even people who had fled concentration camps were sometimes extradited to Germany.