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Victims of genocide and national memory: Belgium, France and the Netherlands 1945-1965.

When asked in May 1995, precisely fifty years after the end of World War II in Europe, who the Nazis had deported to the concentration camps, 191 of 193 Belgian high-school students between fourteen and eighteen years of age, named the Jews as primary victims. The remaining two students named only Anne Frank. Homosexuals were the second most frequent category of victims to appear in the answers (98 students, or 50.7 per cent), followed by the handicapped (88 students, or 45.6 per cent), gypsies and political dissidents (both 75, or 38.9 per cent), arrested resistance fighters (62, or 32.1 per cent) and Communists (17, or 8.8 per cent). The high number of responses for homosexuals and the handicapped, and the low numbers for resistance fighters and Communists, is quite disproportionate to the actual share that these groups had in the total population of victims. Fourteen students (7.2 per cent) answered that the Nazis had sent non-European immigrants to the concentration camps, particularly blacks and Moroccans. Twelve students (6.2 per cent) included the elderly and the poor. These answers reflect the discourse which denunciates the intolerance and racism of the extreme right, rather than an insight into the historical reality with which it is identified. The image high-school students have of Nazi persecution, as manifested by this classification, is one of intolerance and exclusion, of a persecution of innocent civilians for what they were--Jews, homosexuals, handicapped, gypsies--and not primarily of the repression of opponents and rebels, who were persecuted for what they did.(1) The most obvious conclusion is that the Nazi persecution of European Jews has become part of the general knowledge of high-school students. If it is accepted that familiarity with the emblematic figure of Anne Frank supposes some knowledge of anti-Semitic persecution and genocide, then all of the students spontaneously thought of the persecution of Jews when asked about Nazi concentration camps. This article will place this conclusion in a historical perspective. Indeed, all the evidence available today suggests that the answers that a comparable group of students would have given in May 1945, or in any of the years thereafter during the 1940s and 1950s, would have ranked the groups very differently.

On 13 June 1945, the Gendarmerie Nationale noted in its general report for 15 March to 15 May:

The announcement of the victory, the massive return of the prisoners and deportees, and the elections have been the three most striking facts of the period in question. The prisoners had known a prosperous and a fortunate France; they discover a poor country where everyone is assailed by the sorrows of the next day. The disenchantment is profound. As for the deportees, `the best of the Nation', their clandestine struggle has enabled them to measure the depth of the chasm into which France has sunk; as a whole, the horrible experience they suffered has not blunted their abnegation and courage.

In the same report, some pages further on, an incident on 19 April in the fourth arrondissement of Paris is related: `250 to 300 people demonstrated, shouting "France to the French". A fight broke out with the Jews of the neighbourhood. The demonstration was occasioned by the expulsion of a person occupying the apartment of a Jew who had returned to Paris'.(2)

The researcher who investigates public opinion as regards the genocide and the return of the survivors of Nazi persecution from April to July 1945 discovers a picture that contradicts expectations. Repatriation was a major event that influenced the perception of the Second World War in occupied societies. Public opinion was shocked and sometimes obsessed by the images of the return: the arrival of the repatriation convoys in the railway stations and the welcoming parades organized in honour of the survivors. But the experience of the Jews and the discovery of the systematic killing of Jewish `deportees' made far less impression than the `concentration'; the ill-treatment and underfeeding of the other deportees not only resulted in relatively high death-rates, but also in the often shocking physical condition of the returning survivors.

A large proportion of the Jews deported from western Europe had transitted through the concentration camps on their way to extermination, and a small number of them survived the liberation. This fact contributed to their assimilation into the undifferentiated mass of `deportees'. It seems that the awareness, the prise de conscience of the specificity of the Jewish experience, had not permeated contemporary public opinion and that in the reactions towards the survivors of genocide open hostility often prevailed. The hegemony with which arrested resisters dominated the received image of the populations of concentration camps immediately after the end of the Second World War, and particularly the marginal attention devoted to the Jewish victims of genocide, has been observed by several authors in different European countries.(3) Depending upon their own identification with a memory dominated by the experience of the Jewish victims or one dominated by that of arrested resistance fighters, the `reversal' of the memory of Nazi persecution over the five decades since the end of the Second World War has stirred two very different reactions.

On the one hand, the marginal attention, the failure to perceive, or even--worded more strongly--the refusal to acknowledge the specificity of the treatment of Jews in the Nazi policies of persecution in the first two decades after the war nurtures the retroactive indignation of those writers who put genocide at the heart of the history of the period. The rediscovery of an interval much closer to the atrocities, during which governments, media and public opinion seemed untouched by the unprecedented tragedy of European Jews is seen as an extension of the injustice and discrimination Jews suffered during the war, and as a form of ongoing anti-Semitism. The place occupied by the Jewish experience in the respective national memories is, therefore, a matter of the national conscience and a denial of justice which must be remedied retrospectively. Revealing the `de-Judaization' of the victims of genocide in post-war perceptions leads some commentators to an overall indictment of the prevalent ideologies of those years. The `mythical amalgamation' of very different categories of victims is deemed to have been the result of a `gauchissement', a `fabricated universality', or a very outdated form of `Polish' anti-fascism.(4) Some British historians do not hesitate to blame contemporary British perceptions on Britain's `exclusive national framework', `assimilationism' and `universalism', even though Britain was, by all accounts, rather peripheral to the continental genocide. All three of these terms are identified as devices for the imposition of a monocultural society: `exclusivism' through the exclusion of people from other ethnic, cultural or religious backgrounds; `assimilationism' through the absorption of these people into the society, thus eradicating their distinct identities; and `universalism' through the axiomatic proclamation of the global validity of strictly West European, Enlightenment values. For one commentator, the failure to perceive the particularity of Jewish suffering even calls into question `the liberal imagination' which lies at the source of the enumerated ills.(5) In a rather perplexing combination, both universalism and anti-Semitism, and assimilationism and exclusivism stand accused of `de-Judaization'.

The `reversal of memories' that has taken place in more recent decades is, on the other hand, a major source of frustration for the last surviving guardians of the patriotic memories of Nazi persecution. They resent their marginalization in the current interest into the Nazi period and cultivate a certain nostalgia for their post-war hegemony. It is, furthermore, a concern to some historians, who are alarmed by the one-sidedness of a historical consciousness of the period that is induced by a commemorative activism which isolates genocide from its context of `ordinary' persecution.(6) They claim that a Judaeo-centric memory is, from the point of view of a historian, hardly preferable to a patriotic memory.

The present article is not concerned with the issues of justice and contemporary memory, but tries to approach the post-war national memories from a historical perspective. In order to do so, three goals will be pursued. First, a historical understanding of post-war memory supposes a change of focus from the experience of the war years to the perception of the post-war years. The survivors' self-understanding of their experiences, as expressed in eye-witness accounts, does not explain the receptivity of post-war society to such accounts. Secondly, the perspective of the historian requires a comparative approach, integrating different forms of persecution. The Nazi persecution of the Jews can, in retrospect, rightly or wrongly, be distinguished and isolated from, as well as compared and amalgamated with, the experience of other groups; yet the fact remains that the victims and survivors of the genocide were physically intermingled with victims and survivors of other forms of persecution, and that it is this mixture that conditioned contemporary perceptions. The fact that the genocide was not perceived in its specificity does not, in itself, provide an explanation. In order to understand the marginality of the memory of genocide, what is required is an investigation of what has hidden it from view and an analysis of the more urgent and obtrusive memories that mobilized post-war societies. Thirdly, an understanding of the processes at work in post-war memories benefits from a comparison of different national case studies. The way that each society has dealt with the traumatic memory of Nazi persecution is most often analysed through a prism of national traumas and policies. Vichy's particular responsibility for the extermination of Jews in France, and the extraordinary rate of Jewish extermination in the Netherlands--comparable only with that in Eastern European nations--engage both the moral and political responsibilities of those nations. Yet the general processes at work tend to be obscured by scrutiny of the national conscience and thus stand in the way of a historical understanding of the way that different national post-war societies dealt with the memory of similar events. In contrast to France and the Netherlands, in Belgium there is hardly a public debate on the national responsibility for the genocide. This absence of moral scrutiny is caused mainly by the current dismemberment of Belgium. No new nation is eager to inherit the moral debts of its predecessor, and the legacy of the genocide is one of the very few Belgian competencies none of the regions claim.

This article will survey some of the factors which explain the failure to perceive the singular experience of the tens of thousands of Jews deported from the national territories of Belgium, France and the Netherlands. It is not a study of the perception of the `Holocaust' or the `Shoah', which is the continental tragedy that took place mainly in central and eastern Europe, and in which one-third of world Jewry and two-thirds of European Jewry were murdered, destroying a centuries' old local Jewish culture. To attempt such a study for the two decades before 1965 would be anachronistic, since the very dimensions of the continental tragedy, as manifested in contemporary terminology, were very slow to emerge, even among professional historians.(7) As it is, the three countries that we are concerned with here failed to assess even the tragedy of their own Jewish populations, which made up -- numerically -- only a marginal part of the continental tragedy.



During the massive repatriation operations after the Second World War, the repatriates themselves were the most powerful vehicle for the memory of what had happened in German exile. The reports of the repatriation authorities and the police relate the tremendous impact of the arrival of the repatriation convoys in every town, even in the most remote villages. Welcoming committees and anxious families awaited the return of individuals, who, in the overwhelming majority of cases, were workers and prisoners of war. Survivors of concentration camps were still less numerous than returning collaborationists, who had fled with the German army and were now obliged to endure a humiliating return. (Figure 1.)

Fled collaborationists                          12%
Voluntary workers                               21%
Concentration camp survivors                     7%
Arrested dodgers of labour conscription          4%
Labour conscripts                               31%
POW's                                           25%

Repatriates organized, and their associations immediately propagated, their partisan memories. The prisoners of war were successful in organizing and, not without difficulty, in having their conventional war experiences integrated into the national memory.(8) The deported workers, or STO as they are called nowadays in France, faced a bigger challenge.(9) Their social and national reintegration depended on the propagation of the memory of forced labour in Germany as both a form of national martyrdom and resistance. They were successful in Belgium; they were militant, but failed to get recognition in France; and in the Netherlands, they never even succeeded in overcoming the ostracism suffered by organizations of this kind.

Associations of the survivors of concentration camps were necessarily a distorted representation of the victims of the Nazi persecution. They included the inmates of national prisons and hostages or victims of torture who had never left national territory for German camps, but they did not comprise tens of thousands of victims who had disappeared in deportation. Most importantly, there were no survivors of the genocide strictly speaking. The only Jews who escaped the immediate annihilation that characterized the genocide and had a chance of survival were those who had been selected and registered to enter the concentration camps, or had ended up in concentration camps on their way to the centres of mass death. They were a very small minority of the survivors in repatriation convoys and associations.

In the mechanisms of social memory, the dead have no role to play. Only after a historical memory had emerged -- that is, a memory integrating the dead -- were the calculations different. If those who returned are counted, the Jewish deportees were outnumbered twenty to one by the non-Jewish deportees.(10) As regards deportation, they were five Jewish to one non-Jewish deportee in the Netherlands; in Belgium, they were five Jewish deportees to eight `political prisoners' (a conglomerate of the Nazis' victims who were entitled to national recognition); in France, Jewish deportees and a comparable conglomerate made up of `political deportees and internees' and `deportees and internees of the resistance' stand almost one to one. (Figures 2, 3; and Table 1) These figures show the tragic proof of two very different realities: the genocide, on the one hand; and the concentration camp system for the Netherlands, and Nazi persecution in general in Belgium and France, on the other. Still, the question remains as to why both have been amalgamated in post-war memory.


                      Political Deportees

                    Deportees     Survivors

Belgium             41,257        27,299 (66%)
The Netherlands     22,200        17,915 (81%)
France              65,000        38,000 (61%)

                       Racial Deportees

                    Deportees     Survivors

Belgium              25,475       1,335 (5%)
The Netherlands     107,000       5,000 (5%)
France               73,853       2,190 (2.7%)

(*) Sources: see n. 10



As the aforementioned incident in Paris in April 1945 indicates, anti-Semitism is an inevitable context for the marginality of the memory of the genocide in post-war societies. Both blatant and latent anti-Semitism had been necessary pre-conditions for the massive deportations of Jews from the occupied societies, and it would be an underestimation of the inveteracy of anti-Semitism in western European societies to suppose that it suddenly disappeared with the discovery of the genocide in 1945.(11) First of all, there are manifestations of continuing anti-Semitism. Returning survivors were on several occasions registered as `Jews' on official repatriation documents.(12) Contrary to what critics of the `de-Judaization' of the survivors claim today, these repatriates very much resented being once again singled out as Jews, after having barely survived racial persecution.(13) The most shocking aberrations by repatriation officials were recorded by Dienke Hondius in the Netherlands. Stateless Jews, who had emigrated from Nazi Germany to the Netherlands in the 1930s and had been deported during the occupation, were arrested upon their return from Bergen-Belsen and imprisoned together with collaborationists as `former German nationals'.(14) These repeated incidents caused indignant protests, but they indicate how weak the impact of the discovery of the genocide had been in wider circles, including those involved in administering the repatriation. In France, the Gendarmerie Nationale registered anti-Semitic graffiti in the first six months of 1945, such as that discovered in Courbevoie on 19 February: `Down with the war, down with the denouncers, the firing squad for all Jews'.(15) The repatriation officials in Toulouse observed that `the intrigues' of repatriated Jews risked `to provoke or to foster a new crisis of anti-Semitism' and reported their efforts to halt the militancy of this group `excessive both because of their small number and because of the fact that they are foreigners'.(16) Forced `assimilationism' occurred when Christian churches--not the State--hid, educated and baptized Jewish children, and then refused to return them to their Jewish relatives or Zionist organizations.(17)

Secondly, anti-Semitism seemed in part to be strengthened by the genocide, taking up new themes, such as the lack of Jewish resistance and Jewish treason. A general tendency of thinking developed, which suggested that if the Jews attracted such unprecedented persecution, then they had to be guilty of something. Traditional Christian anti-Semitism was also reappropriated from the Nazis. In the spring of 1945, a Dutch author living in liberated Belgium, at a time when the majority of the Netherlands was still occupied, took stock of the years of German occupation in both countries and of the challenges ahead. The book, which was published in May 1945 by a publisher situated close to the border, was distributed in the Netherlands immediately. In his chapter on the persecution of Jews by the Nazis, the author felt compelled to warn his readers not to credit Hitler for his accomplishments:

Even if we accept that the power and influence of Jewry in our modern

society are not imaginary, yes, if we even willingly admit that the

righteous resistance and fair measures against numerous Jewish

practices positively benefit Christian society, then still it

remains no less true that no Christian of conviction can

approve the phenomena that present themselves nowadays under

the universal, as well as meaningless, name of anti-Semitism.

If today we find a certain category of Christian (and it is not

unimportant) who sympathizes with this persecution, we ought not

to forget that if we Christians had in general shown more courage

and conviction and faith in the first place, Jewish and liberal

influences would never have permeated society to the degree that

they did. The Jews were guilty of the murder of God's Son,

but the Roman Pontius Pilate was no less guilty when he nailed an innocent

to the cross out of cowardice ... Of course, the Jewish problem is a

burning question, but those who wish its solution out of hatred, and often

out of anger and envy, have rejected Christian love and with it their

Christianity ... Christian love requires a different struggle, a different

anti-Semitism. The mass murder of the Jewish people is the clearest proof

that national socialism is not anti-Semitic, but anti-Christian. Of course,

the Christian world will have to fight its war against Jewish hegemony, but a

struggle according to its own principles and not according to the whispering

of some evil spirit ... The freedom we yearn for must not lead to

licentiousness and anarchism, because they are the trump cards through which

the liberal-Jewish hegemony can establish itself.(18)

An early awareness of `the mass murder of the Jewish people' was not at all incompatible with a continuing, traditional, anti-Semitic discourse. Still, even if anti-Semitism was more widespread in 1945 and thereafter than an observer would expect today, it cannot account for the marginality of the memory of the genocide in society as a whole. Anti-Semitic attitudes are often concealed in the arguments of protagonists in the commemorative debate, yet they are not the only explanation.



Immediately after the liberation of the occupied countries of Europe, both in the East and the West, a patriotic memory of the Resistance emerged as a collective image of society during the war. Governments and political movements proceeded to `nationalize' the resistance, reclaiming the merits of the minority of groups and individuals that had been active during the occupation. Even more explicitly, they modified the meaning of `resistance' and expanded its scope to cover the whole of society. Various types of resistance were legally defined or proclaimed in polemical publications: civil resistance, moral resistance, spiritual resistance.(19) In France, former pro-Vichy circles distinguished `resistancialisme', from la Resistance, in which the whole nation had participated; and resistantialisme, from les resistants, who were no more than unruly elements, peripheral to the epic of the Nation. The shield-and-sword theory distributed the merit for the Resistance equally between Generals De Gaulle and Petain.(20) Very similar discourses in the Netherlands and Belgium awarded this merit to the `Dutch Union' or the Belgian secretary-generals. The former was a political movement during the first year of the occupation, that had defended loyalty towards the Nazis; the latter were the leading administrators who had stayed in office throughout the occupation under German orders.(21)

As a result, `resistance' in the post-war debate no longer referred to a specific social group or type of actions, and because of the proliferation of definitions, it more often than not became a value judgement of attitudes held during the war. Therefore, it became the yardstick by which political legitimacy was measured. One had to prove patriotic merit during the war in order to qualify for a political role thereafter.

Resistance, as a collective self-image of the liberated societies, required an active denial of the actual experience of the occupation. Unprecedented military defeat, humiliating occupation, and liberation by other foreign armies, albeit friendly and allied, had been a triple demonstration of national impotence. The nation state, carefully constructed since the nineteenth century, was supposed to guarantee the protection of its civilians, the rule of law, national loyalty and international prestige. Defeat, collaboration, economic plunder, deportation of the work-force and unprecedented persecution threw it into a deep crisis of confidence. Active resistance had been the radical choice of a determined, and often, in political terms, a marginal minority. Heroism had not been the dominant collective experience of society, but rather economic hardship, individual suffering, humiliation and arbitrary persecution.

The liberated societies of Europe were traumatized and their now fragile national consciousnesses badly needed the kind of patriotic epic that only the Resistance could deliver. Persecution, as a more fundamental experience, was unspeakable and unacceptable in this context. Mourning without triumphalism would have undermined post-war national recovery. The threatening memory of impotence, humiliation and loss of meaning at best, and of complicity at worst, could only be commemorated through the prism of resistance and patriotism. Such a selective memory denied the distinctiveness of the Second World War when compared to previous conflicts, and particularly to the First World War.

The patriotic interpretation of the occupation had to come to terms with disruptive issues. There was no homogeneous and properly national milieu de memoire, as the veterans of the First World War had been as conscripts of a national and regular army. The soldier-hero was replaced by much more controversial types of heroes, including terrorist guerrillas, who had often been primarily engaged in an ideological battle. Many were foreigners, and even more were Communists, who had fought for an ideal that was viewed as anti-national by traditional patriots. Could they be national heroes? The interpretative problem was even greater when dealing with the martyrs and necrologies: these were not fallen soldiers, but tens of thousands of civil victims of ideological persecution and genocide. Could they become national martyrs?

Martyrs die for a noble cause, which gives sense to their suffering. This sense could only be patriotic in the traumatized, liberated societies. This left commemorators with two alternative solutions. A government or political movement could decide to commemorate only victims of the Resistance, who had defied their fate and `merited' or `provoked' their suffering by heroism: this was the case in the post-war Netherlands. Yet the commemorative discourse could also include all the victims of persecution, no matter the reason for arrest or the category or context of the persecution. If not resister, then still patriot. Attempts at such a policy of memory were made with partial success in Belgium and France.

As the quotation from the gendarmerie report at the start of this article suggests, the `nationalization' of the victims of Nazi persecution is an immediate assumption. All deportees are `the best of the Nation', all have been engaged in underground struggle, all excel in abnegation and courage. Yet, this `nationalization' of martyrdom was not just a spontaneous interpretation, but a political construct.


In Belgium, the political debate as to the right attitude during the war was personified in the `royal question'. The former Catholic party, re-baptized as the Christian Popular Party, supported the king and through him defended the various degrees of accommodation and `tactical collaboration', including the policy of leniency as far as the purging of former members of collaborationist parties. Against the king and his supporters, liberals, socialists and Communists formed a left-wing, coalition government between August 1945 and March 1947. This self-proclaimed `Government of the Resistance' prevented the king from reassuming the throne and launched a vast commemorative programme whose aim was to recognize and distinguish meritorious citizens from the rest.(22) The strong Catholic opposition in parliament often obliged them to make compromises, which led to a fragmented and overlapping legal patchwork, that recognized the `patriotic merit' of various groups from various political backgrounds. Laws created procedures of recognition and benefits with which to award armed resisters, civil resisters, resisters of the underground press, intelligence agents, persons who hid in order to escape forced labour in Germany, workers who were victims of forced labour in Germany and--via the most prestigious act--`political prisoners'.

The architect of the commemorative programme was a Communist minister, Jean Terfve. Terfve had been one of the leaders of the underground party, active in all the branches of the Resistance, including the partisans. His wife was repatriated from Ravensbruck in May 1945. Terfve's personal involvement granted him two important successes. First, the mediation of the ministry led to the creation of a single national association for all survivors of the German camps and prisons: the Confederation Nationale des Prisonniers Politiques et leurs Ayants-Droits.(23) Secondly, Terfve obtained the support of this national association for his project to have an act passed for political prisoners that would create an honorary distinction and social aid programme for all victims. The project adopted the `criterion of the suffering'.(24) The reason for arrest was irrelevant to the law, as there was a sufficient number of other laws recognizing all kinds of patriotic activism during the occupation. What really mattered was the dignity and courage with which the victims had endured their ordeal. It was this suffering, this sacrifice in the hands of the enemy, that elevated all victims to the rank of heroes of the Nation. However, in the everyday parlance and the legal dispositions, a notion dating from the First World War was also taken up: that of the `political prisoner'. Already after 1918, the victims of the German repression of the franc-tireurs had been recognized and decorated with the same honour as those members of the regular army who had fallen in the trenches. This mixture of a traditional patriotic notion with the new situation of the post-Nazi era provoked immediate protest:

When, after the war of 1914-18 one said of a person "he was a political

prisoner", the public knew this person had committed an act of patriotism.

There was no other meaning. Today things are no longer the same. When one

says "political prisoner", public opinion--and our adversaries should have

the courage to admit this--immediately asks the question "Communist? Jew?

hostage? or resister?" It is not us who claim the distinguo, it is public

opinion. Of course, there is no shame in belonging to one category rather

than another. Yet it is normal that a prisoner is indignant if he is

suspected of having acted during the German occupation from purely

political motivation, when his acts were always inspired by the purest

patriotism. You do not have to be anti-Semitic to be troubled if someone

suspects you mistakenly of having been arrested as a Jew.(25)

Terfve's act was approved unanimously in the House of Representatives, after the intervention of the Catholic president of the Confederation. In the Senate, where the Catholic opposition was only one seat short of an absolute majority, the proposal was held up.(26) The opposition submitted an amendment which introduced a `patriotic clause' into the act. The statute had considerable financial implications: the survivors would be entitled to free medical care, life-long indemnities, unlimited stipends for the schooling of their children and so on; however, the amendments were not concerned with the costs. Indeed, in the Belgian context no one could afford to exclude from the aid programme victims who had been arrested for reasons other than resistance. The subtlety of the Catholic proposal was that everyone would have equal rights to aid, but that only resisters would be entitled to the recognition of the nation and to the honorary clause of the statute: the title and the medal of political prisoner. The Catholic intervention also had another rationale. If, as public attention and respect indicated, the survivors of the camps--now called political prisoners--deserved national appreciation because of their sacrifices and patriotism, then they represented key symbolic and political capital. As a consequence, it was important that each party secured its share. In the total group of survivors, the Catholics were a small minority. Those who had been arrested preventatively and those who had been taken as hostages had been chosen for their pre-war anti-fascism and were mostly Freemasons and atheists. The racial deportees had been almost uniquely Jews. In short, only among the arrested resisters were there a fair number of Catholics to be found.

The unyielding attitude of the Catholic opposition forced the minister to search for a new compromise. The final text of the act stipulated that the honorary distinction was to be attributed to three groups: arrested resisters; all those arrested because of their political or philosophical convictions; and all those who could prove to have shown a truly heroic and patriotic attitude during their imprisonment.(27) Cleverly formulated, this compromise meant that the Jewish survivors of the camps were not entitled to this national appreciation. The Jews had not been deported for something they did or chose, but for being Jews. Today, it is precisely that which is seen as the ultimate transgression of Nazism, but this message was politically impotent in the immediate post-war years. Then the Jews were used as change in a political trade-off. Moreover, the statute only dealt with national merit. The Jews who were denied this merit, but still received aid, were a small minority. Only about 5 per cent of the Jews deported from Belgium during the occupation had Belgian nationality. For foreign political prisoners there was a second law.(28) According to this law only deported foreigners who fought in the Resistance could receive aid and naturalization.

Even though the governing majority denounced, incidentally, the `anti-Semitism' of the Catholic manoeuvre, the Catholic boycott harvested little criticism and the compromise was welcomed with ecumenical satisfaction.(29) More decisive than the anti-Semitism had been the anti-Communism of the Christian Popular Party: the `criterion of the suffering' was, in their eyes, no more than a trick to smuggle coverage into the statutes for those Communists who had been arrested on the night of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, after a year of anti-allied propaganda under the slogan `ni Londres ni Berlin'. Forced to concede on the inclusion of the governing Communists, the Christian Popular Party settled for the peace offering which the Jewish survivors constituted.

The trauma of the concentration camps made a deep impact on the post-war years in Belgium and the special moral heritage of the survivors was universally respected. The quarrels concerning the statute ended in the `national' compromise to exclude the Jews from the honorary distinction. The unity of the survivors was a unique accomplishment in post-war Belgium. The common experience of the camps and the solidarity that grew there enabled the survivors to surmount the deep divisions of Belgian post-war society. At the height of the royal question, the Confederation lent its moral prestige to a peaceful compromise between the parties, leading to the abdication of King Leopold and his succession by his eldest son.(30) The memory of the Nazi persecution was intimately intertwined in Belgian post-war politics. It was not only a social memory, it was political capital; and in this context, a historical memory had no chance.


Nowhere was patriotic legitimacy more crucial in post-war politics than in France. It was the only legitimacy General Charles De Gaulle had when he returned from exile and declared the constitutionally legitimate heir of the Third Republic, the Vichy regime, null and void.(31) The amalgamation of colonists and exiles that had made up his Free French forces was not a firm basis upon which to build a new regime. De Gaulle was thus forced to propagate a generous and collective vision of the French combat to liberate France: to silence the role of Vichy and the role of the allies, and to nationalize the contribution of the resistance movements on French territory. De Gaulle's commemorative policy--as provisional head of state between liberation and January 1946, from the opposition until 1958, and then as president of his self-styled fifth republic until 1969--assimilated the Nation and the Resistance into a symbolic discourse that was at the same time heroic, emblematic, abstract and elitist. The national honour had been safeguarded throughout the ordeal of the war by the heroes who presided over its destiny, in exile or on French soil, as combatants or as martyrs. Gaullist speeches and rituals staged tributes to the army and the nation through exemplary models of patriotism and assimilated the ambiguous victory of the Second World War with the patriotic triumph of the First. Abstract commemoration and its consensual appeal suited De Gaulle better than the cult of veteranism. He opposed the re-establishment of a ministry of veterans after the liberation; he resented the organizations of prisoners of war and labour conscripts, both of which united hundreds of thousands of dubious heroes; and he certainly did not favour the proliferation of heroism over the many groups of veterans of the Resistance and victims of persecution.

The Communist memory has often been presented as the opposite resistance myth in all regards.(32) The national insurrection and partisan war of the internal Resistance took the place of the external Resistance and its classic military feats--the Maquis instead of Bir Hakeim. The war in the colonies and at the side of the western allies was replaced by the glorious victory of the Red Army. Instead of De Gaulle's abstract and ecumenical references to the Nation, the French Communist Party (PCF) identified strongly with concrete heroes and martyrs. It cultivated its martyrs--`the party of the 75,000 executed militants'--and organized successfully a whole corona of veterans' associations of partisans, deported workers and victims of the Nazis. The immediate post-war period corresponds with the party's most expansive period. Communist ranks had been decimated by persecution and the party was actively canvassing for new members and voters, an operation that proved successful, partly because of the appeal of the aura of resistance. Instead of an exclusive memory, appropriating patriotic merit and stressing the distinction between the historically certified resisters and those who joined the myth post factum, the PCF propagated a memory that was as open and inclusive as possible. The reference to the Nation, central to the Gaullist discourse, was replaced by the reference both to the working class, who were deemed to have embodied the resistance against a collaborating bourgeoisie and its reactionary ideology, and to anti-fascism. The paradigm of anti-fascism was the most inclusive. All political opponents of fascism, and even more all victims of fascism, could subscribe to it and become part of an anti-fascist family in which the Communist party played, presently and historically, a central role and where martyrdom and heroism, victims and veterans, intermingled and fraternally shared the heritage of victory.

The confrontation between Gaullist heroic and elitist patriotism, and Communist-inspired inclusive anti-fascism over the official recognition of the victims of Nazi occupation was parallel to the conflict between patriots and anti-fascists in Belgium. This debate did not end in a compromise though, but secured the dichotomy by two separate laws: one for the deportee et internee de la resistance, the other for the deportee et internee politiques, including the Jews; and through two separate associations: the Federation Nationale des Deportes et Internes de la Resistance, which was exclusively for resisters, and the Federation Nationale des Deportes et Internes Resistants et Patriotes, which was for all survivors, even if they had not been resisters.(33) The difference in vocabulary is revealing. In Belgium, the First World War term `political prisoner' was taken up again, and through it the notion of resistance and patriotism crept into the debate. In France, a new notion was created, with an even stronger mythical appeal: la Deportation.(34)

Deportation as a mythical concept is crucial to the understanding of the trauma of the occupation for French society. Of all the occupied countries, France was the most humiliated, because of its pre-war standing and size, its unprecedented military defeat, and because of Vichy, the collaboration d'Etat. The captivity in Germany of 1.5 million French soldiers, later joined by half as many labour conscripts and 200,000 `deportees' of the Nazi persecution, was the most tangible and physical of all humiliations. Vichy, in spite of its extensive collaboration, had been incapable of preventing or reversing the stream of French citizens captured and taken to Germany. The paternalist Petain, the soldier-hero of 1918 and the father of the troops, had been unable to bring his boys home. The revolution rationale, with its patronizing and corporatist discourse on the working class, had been unable to keep the workers in domestic occupations (Travail), with their families (Famille), or in their country (Patrie). Vichy had developed a moral and religious discourse of penance for prewar weaknesses and repentance in exile in preparation for renewal.

Similarly, De Gaulle had initiated, first in London and later in Algiers, an impressive propaganda campaign, which had been aimed at the Allies and the home front to convert the millions of young Frenchmen in German hands into the asset of a fifth column: a huge and organized secret army, ready for general insurrection at the first sign of invasion. Vichy and 'la France Libre' competed in Germany for the allegiance of the displaced French citizens, through Petainist circles, Gaullist propaganda and a parcel post battle that sought to deliver as many Red Cross parcels as possible on each side. Repatriation became the first priority for De Gaulle and his minister, Henri Frenay. Frenay's dominant concern was to give a unanimous welcome to all victims of `deportation'--captivity, forced labour and persecution--under the slogan: `they are united, do not divide them'. This mythical unity had never existed in Germany, where French citizens had lived through very different experiences according to their fate. It did not survive their return either. The prisoners of war quickly went their own way, as did the deported workers and deportes politiques, and, as mentioned earlier, the latter split again between `resisters' and `political deportees', sensu stricto.

La Deportation became the stake in a bitter `bataille de memoire'.(35) Charged with the myth of martyrdom and patriotism, the survivors of the concentration camps engaged in a battle to monopolize the term for their own use. In this campaign, resisters and `politicals' united, in spite of the general meaning of the concept during the occupation and in the immediate years thereafter. The issue was magnified and redefined as `the defence of the sacred title, symbol of the sufferings endured for the liberation of the Fatherland'.(36) `La Deportation' became a founding myth of post-war France, together with `La Resistance', and was of equal strength. In 1956, Fernand Braudel, Lucien Febvre, Albert Camus, Jules Romains, Vercors (Jean Bruller), Mgr Salieges and many others lent their prestige to a declaration against the use of the title of deporte by deported workers:

These transplantes are not Deportees. There is more at stake here than a

simple question of semantics. The `Deportation' did not enter history solely

as displacement and forced labour: it implies torture, insane convoys, the

gas chambers and the crematoria; the dehumanization and the extermination of

millions of human beings. It is inseparable from an ethic--that

should be condemned for ever--by which the `superior' being arrogates the

right to degrade, before killing, those it judges inferior. It constitutes

the greatest crime ever perpetrated against man, and its recurrence should

be prevented at all cost. To diminish the horror by extending to others the

aureole of the name of Deportee is committing at the same time a historical

solecism, a denial of justice and an insult to the memory of all those who

were also obliged into forced labour while waiting for an obligatory death.

The draftees, victims of the Forced Labour Service [STO], do not benefit

much by claiming the title of Deportee. But, through the confusion their

demands create, they weaken our appreciation of the repercussions and

enormity of the crime. Unconsciously, they render themselves accomplices

to oblivion. They undermine the sacred cause of the defence of Man.(37)

Rejecting a possible amalgamation between forced labour and concentration camps, these French intellectuals, for all their prestige, subscribed to an amalgamation of a different kind. Deportation was a common and inevitable point of departure. Concentration--where death was very probable, but by no means `obligatory'--and extermination--genocide, with gas chambers, mechanical devices for mass killing as opposed to crematoria, and mechanical devices to treat bodies--were very different destinations. A discourse of national martyrdom, with the concentration camp as the symbolic depository of national suffering, which excluded deported workers but included the victims of the genocide, created consciously or unconsciously a regrettable confusion and contributed to the oblivion of the singular treatment of the Jews by the Nazis.

The Netherlands

A very different policy of memory was pursued with astonishing coherence and consensus in the Netherlands. The Netherlands had remained neutral during World War I, so unlike Belgium and France there was no pre-established memory of the previous war to impose itself as a ready-made interpretation on the most recent war. The paradigm of the combatant and the social reality of veterans' movements, which were so pervasive in Belgian and French society, could not serve as references or devices by which to assimilate the disruptive memory of Nazi occupation with the heroic memory of the Great War.(38) After 1945, in Belgium and France, survivors of the camps had emulated these models in their commemorations, with symbols and rituals drawn from a military context, such as the use of banners or the laying of wreaths at the monument to the unknown soldier.

In addition to this difference, the peculiar chronology of the military operations that liberated western Europe set Dutch society apart from its southern neighbours. The failure of the assault on the Rhine at Arnhem in October 1944 condemned the largest piece of Dutch territory to a further nine months of occupation, until the Germans surrendered in May 1945. The harsh last winter--the `hunger winter'--caused the whole population to suffer.(39) Whereas the suffering of specific groups--Communists, deported workers and Jews--had characterized the previous years of occupation, now famine, large-scale material destruction and massive migrations of civilians to escape hunger, flooding and allied bombing caused indiscriminate suffering. At the time of the Dutch liberation, 1.5 million Dutch citizens were displaced: one million refugees due to the military confrontation; tens of thousands because of hunger in the cities; 80,000 as prisoners of the Japanese army in the former colony; and 350,000 workers in hiding. This greatly reduced the public's capacity to commiserate with particular groups of martyrs--the milieux de memoire that had epitomized the experience of the nation in Belgium and France. Most concentration camps had been liberated earlier than the Dutch heartland, and displaced persons repatriated from Germany were greatly outnumbered by domestic refugees. Extraordinary and extra-territorial suffering in German camps did not come to public attention in the way that it did in Belgium and France, nor was the return of the survivors anxiously awaited. The atmosphere of indifference towards repatriates is illustrated, among many other reactions, by the Dutch historian Hondius, who recorded the welcome one Jewish survivor received: `Well, quite a lot of your kind came back. Just be happy you were not here. How we suffered from hunger!(40)

This very different response was reinforced by a deliberate government policy. The chaotic situation in the Netherlands in the summer months of 1945 placed great strain on the entire infrastructure of social and medical assistance, the distribution and rationing of food, elementary household equipment and clothing, as well as on the government budget. Faced with this widespread destitution, the government decreed that `an allotment of the landscape of war into categories of victims had to be avoided at any price': `Naming certain groups in any regulation in this matter will inevitably cause new groups to claim their rights. As soon as the principle of individual assistance is given up, a chain reaction of claims invoking the acquired rights of others will cause an explosion of the budget'.(41) Social policy and national recognition were therefore to be separated.

As a result, the government declared `veteranism' to be a very un-Dutch and unpatriotic activity that had shown its social uselessness in the pre-war years in France, and particularly in Belgium. It ignored and boycotted all pressure groups, including those of Resistance veterans. Any group claiming special merit or special suffering not only threatened to be a burden on the national budget, but also endangered the national consensus that heroism and martyrdom had been the collective experience of the Dutch people, symbolized by that emblematic figure of national affection, Queen Wilhelmina. This policy of forced consensus was even extended to the regulation for war monuments, which had to honour the anonymous memory of the Nation and carry an elevating message.(42) The inscription of the names of those citizens who had fallen for the Fatherland and the erection of monuments portraying identifiable heroes were not approved by the national commission which was created to implement the regulation, and were consequently demolished. According to the official line which guided government contact with the organizations of survivors of the Nazi camps, the objections to organizations of Resistance veterans, who even if their activism disrupted the national consensus at least personified heroism and collective idealism, was all the more justified as far as `political prisoners' went (the Dutch having spontaneously integrated the Belgian vocabulary). The Nazis' amalgamation of victims from very different backgrounds in the camps precluded any legitimate post-war activity on behalf of the survivors: `Their only goal can be claims for special benefits or political manipulation, since they are not in any way united by a common action or ideal'.(43)

The only organization that had the official endorsement of the government was the Foundation 1940-45.(44) It was a private charitable organization that took care of those victims persecuted for their participation in the Resistance, their widows and orphans. It was created by the Calvinist (Catholic in the south) clandestine relief organization. It opened its ranks to all resisters after the liberation, but activists from religious organizations continued to provide 90 per cent of its membership on local committees. From 1950 onwards, Communists were officially excluded. As a charitable foundation, it was not an organization of the victims of the Resistance, but an organization for them, in which their role was only passive, as recipients of aid. The financial resources of the Foundation came from private funding through local collection committees: house-to-house collections were a small part; the overwhelming majority of the funds came from donations from industry and commerce. In the summer of 1947, the Dutch parliament passed a law establishing a special pension for victims of the Resistance, but it charged the private Foundation with the implementation of the law. Hence the Foundation was both judge and advocate in the distribution of remittances.

The founding statute of the Foundation defined its task as `the care for the moral, spiritual and material needs of persons or groups of persons who during the occupation contributed to the internal resistance by deed or attitude, their families or next of kin'.(45) This definition marked the narrow national and Resistance position of the Foundation. Victims of German repression who had not committed acts of resistance were excluded: hostages, victims of retaliation, people who had been arrested because of their pre-war anti-fascist activities, and racial deportees. Yet, for the victims of the Resistance on national soil, the Foundation wanted the best treatment possible. The predominant influence of the Calvinist and Catholic volunteers, the financial weight of the industrial and commercial elites, the patronizing structure of the assistance, the socially conservative distribution of available funds, the official role in the distribution of government pensions and the exclusively patriotic selection all converged to turn Foundation 1940-45 into a respected national institution of charity and a custodian of a properly national memory of persecution.

The very limited target group of the Foundation left the overwhelming majority of war victims excluded. Compared with Belgium and France, the survivors of the concentration camps stand out. In both of these countries, the political prisoners and deportees formed the most active and respected milieu de memoire. In the Netherlands, liberation and repatriation coincided, and in the midst of the chaos of the early summer of 1945, when more than one-fifth of the population was displaced and large parts were underfed, public opinion remained relatively unimpressed and unmoved by the return of the inmates of the concentration camps. In this context, the experience of the survivors of the genocide went almost unnoticed. The only pressure group active in organizing survivors of the camps recruited the same target group of deported resisters, the Dutch Union of Former Political Prisoners (Nederlandse Vereniging van Ex-Politieke Gevangenen), or ExPoGe. Nationalist, and after 1949 fiercely anti-Communist, the organization never secured acceptance as the representative of the deported resisters. The government addressed itself exclusively to the Foundation and it did this upon the explicit demand of the Resistance elite. The anti-Communist zeal of the ExPoGe with its `Combat Committee against the Concentration Camp System' (Strijdcomite tegen het Concentratiekamp Systeem) would lend it more respectability in the early 1950s and even lead to a rapprochement with the Foundation.

Survivors of the concentration camps who had not been part of the Resistance found refuge in the Communist organization, the United Resistance of the Netherlands, together with Communist and left-wing activists who had never been victims of Nazi persecution. From 1956 onwards, at the instigation of the Federation Internationale des Resistants, the Communists created national committees of survivors of certain camps, the Auschwitz Committee being the most active and well known. From 1961 onwards, a government, anti-Communist Dachau committee, financed by donations from major Dutch private companies, counterbalanced the Communist influence mainly through anti-Soviet sensitization campaigns.

The severe crisis that hit the Dutch consensus model in the late 1960s also led to a crisis in the Dutch politics of memory. New types of associations for Resistance veterans and survivors of the camps emerged to claim national recognition and compensation. Both the claims and the subsequent legislation of 1972, which recognized the victims of Resistance and persecution, established the kind of national recognition that the same groups had legally obtained in France and Belgium immediately after the war. It was only the discourse that had changed: from the patriotism of the late 1940s to the welfare-state discourse of the late 1960s. Self-help associations and therapy groups united the `damaged groups' that had been forgotten or silenced by the austere policy of national pride and collective and indiscriminate suffering.



From 1947, the Cold War changed some of the basic features of the politics of memory in Belgium, France and the Netherlands* The Communist ministers left the government in Belgium, whereas the traditional, state, anti-Communism, which had never permitted Communists into government in the Netherlands, was invigorated. Only two years lay between the end of the Second World War and the start of this new `war', which was fought in terms of propaganda and domestic politics. Inevitably, both camps developed a discourse concerning the memory of the Second World War, which was shaped in order to establish direct continuity between yesterday's and tomorrow's struggle, and particularly, between yesterday's enemy and today's enemy.(46)

The anti-fascist discourse denounced the aggressive fascism that had caused the war as the ultimate stage of capitalism. The extirpation of fascism, therefore, required the transformation of society and the socio-economic structures that had enabled its parasitic growth. During the occupation, the anti-fascist interpretation was widespread in left-wing Resistance circles, where it had been insistently claimed that the struggle was one of social liberation no less than of national liberation. However, after the division of Germany, this identification became much more concrete. Capitalist Germany, where the `fascist trusts' which `had supported Hitler' were still intact, and where the Wehrmacht was renamed the Bundeswehr and rearmed to restart its war against the Soviet Union, was the heir of the Third Reich. The German Democratic Republic, in this perspective, was the new Germany, truly de-Nazified. An alliance with the GFR was then high treason to the anti-fascist struggle.

The anti-Communists went one step further and bluntly equated Nazism and Communism through the concept of totalitarianism. Yesterday's enemy and today's enemy were basically two manifestations of the same regime: the first, brown totalitarianism; the next, red totalitarianism. The struggle for the `Free World' or Christianity was continued without any fundamental alteration. The ultimate symbol of totalitarianism, the central cog of the wheels of the totalitarian state, was the concentration camp. In this way, the memory of Nazi persecution became the battle horse of anti-Communism. This continuity was not only a continuity of discourse. Accusations of the continued existence of concentration camps in the Soviet Gulag were first formulated in the context of the controversy over the administration of displaced persons left behind on German territory after the defeat of the Third Reich, and the repatriation of western citizens left behind in the Soviet occupation zone. Strictly applying the agreements made at Yalta, the Allies exchanged displaced citizens mutually. Anti-Communist activists spread rumours from the very first weeks of the repatriation onwards, that the western survivors of the Nazi camps were being directly transferred to Soviet camps. Repatriation authorities soon proved that these allegations were false. More importantly, for better relations with their Soviet partner, Soviet displaced persons were forcibly repatriated to the Soviet Union by the Americans, British and French alike, in spite of their protests, acts of insurgency and collective suicides.(47) Only in 1947 did forced repatriations cease and were Soviet displaced persons considered political refugees. The ensuing conflict with the Soviet authorities led in 1949 to the first official pronouncement by the American Department of State of the syllogism: Gulag=Concentration Camp[right arrow] Communism=Nazism.(48) Anti-Communists would hence use the concentration camp as a metaphor for the entire Soviet block: `The barbed wire of the Iron Curtain encircles a gigantic concentration camp, where entire nations are imprisoned, who yearn to live in freedom'.(49)

In this confrontation, the survivors of the Nazi camps were mobilized as `experts'. Their life experience in the camps during World War II charged them with the moral duty to prevent or combat the same happening again in the Soviet Union. An American Federation of Former Prisoners of Totalitarianism and substantial American funding soon created followers in France, drawing on the appeal of David Rousset. Similar initiatives soon sprang up in Belgium and in the Netherlands.(50) The impact on the associations of survivors of the camps was devastating: the Belgian Confederation scarcely survived a schism; Communists were expelled from the Dutch organization ExPoGe and had to seek refuge in an anti-fascist front organization; and the French Federation Nationale des Deportes et Internes Resistants et Patriotes lost its anti-Communist members to the rival nationalist Federation Nationale des Deportes et Internes de la Resistance (FNDIR), under the flag of the Union Nationale des Associations de Deportes et Internes et Familles des Disparus (UNADIF). Exclusive associations of former prisoners from the Resistance, fiercely nationalist and anti-Communist, took the lead in this campaign, to the detriment of inclusive organizations which were open to Jewish survivors, but were stigmatized for their Communist adherence.

This anti-Communist offensive provoked a predictable Communist reply, aimed at proving that the concentration camp, which was used as a central charge against Communism, was historical nonsense. On the contrary, the Nazi camps had been the destination of millions of anti-fascist militants from all over Europe, and as such, they should be commemorated as examples of what anti-Communism led to, and of what a re-militarized Germany that had not been purged of twelve years of Nazification would be capable of doing. To centralize this campaign, the Warsaw-based Federation Internationale des Prisonniers Politiques was transformed into the Federation Internationale des Resistants, open not only to resisters, but also to all the members of the former organization: victims of fascism, ergo anti-fascists, ergo resisters. International committees under Communist inspiration were created for each camp to organize the tenth anniversary of the liberation of the camps.(51) Buchenwald and Auschwitz were points of sombre gravity in this commemorative campaign and were respectively symbols of the martyrdom of anti-fascist Germany, the GDR and the anti-fascist and national Polish martyrdom.(52) The immediate propaganda aims of the campaign were paramount, and commemorations were occasions for speeches by politicians such as Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker denouncing the European Defence Community, German membership of NATO and western European integration.

The anti-Communists responded to this commemorative campaign on a tremendous scale, with pointed counter-offensives, particularly at Dachau, which was transformed into an anti-Communist monument by, among other actions, the construction of a Roman Catholic church, to be followed some years later by a Protestant church and a synagogue.(53) The ceremonies for the commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the liberation of the camps constituted the apogee of the Cold War commemorations, with mass mobilization on both sides.

Despite being antagonists, both the anti-fascist and the anti-totalitarian commemorative discourses had one major feature in common: they systematically obscured the specificity of the genocide. The anti-fascist discourse assimilated all victims of fascism with anti-fascists. The genocide was not recognized as separate from the holistic, anti-fascist martyrdom. Nevertheless, this discourse was inclusive of all victims. It was not only a form of propaganda and a way of instrumentalizing memories, because it provided an interpretative scheme that ennobled the arbitrary and meaningless suffering of the anonymous victims and made it heroic. Many Jewish survivors internalized and identified with anti-fascism, refusing to interpret their experiences for what they had been: genocide and not anti-fascist persecution.(54) The anti-totalitarian discourse was more exclusive. Its freedom fighters had been mostly recruited from nationalist Resistance circles and fought inclusive organizations. Above all, the genocide was strictly incompatible with its aim. An assimilation of the Nazi persecution and the Gulag essentially required the omission of genocide.



The culmination of the Cold War commemoration on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the liberation in 1965 signalled, at the same time, the end of the hegemony of anti-Communist and anti-fascist memories. In the course of the 1960s, a Jewish memory emerged -- that is, a memory of the systematic attempt to murder the Jewish population of Europe as an experience distinct from the amalgamations of `freedom fighters' and `anti-fascists'. The Dutch example is enlightening in this regard. Until 1966, the stern policy of national consensus and state anti-Communism had stifled official participation in any commemorative initiative concerning Auschwitz.(55) The secret services monitored the Dutch Auschwitz Committee closely, warning the government that the creation of this committee in 1956 was inspired by the `pro-Communist' Federation Internationale de la Resistance and that it was entirely manipulated by Dutch Communists, even if it admitted that `the overwhelming majority of ordinary members are not Communists and belong to the Jewish part of the population'.(56) The Catholic prime ministers, J. E. de Quay and V. G. M. Marijuen, systematically instructed the members of their cabinets not to accept the annual invitations to the commemoration ceremonies of the liberation of Auschwitz, and the Dutch government refused to provide any subsidy for the construction of the international monument at Auschwitz. Although the official justification for this refusal was the standing policy not to subsidize any monument abroad, internal documents, most of which were drafted by the secret service, argued that as Auschwitz was situated in Poland, any subsidy for the monument would mean that the Dutch government would be financing Communist propaganda against its own foreign policy.

This line of conduct by the government of the western European country that had most Jewish dead to weep for in Auschwitz was increasingly embarrassing. Only Denmark, from where no Jewish citizens had been deported to Auschwitz, and the Greek dictatorship, had joined the Dutch refusal, while France, Norway and Belgium had made generous contributions.(57) The campaign for a Dutch contribution to the Auschwitz monument gathered increasing support. Intellectuals, university rectors and non-Communist politicians signed up to a patronage committee and the former socialist prime minister, Willem Drees, even called for a Dutch effort on public television. The reports of the secret services also registered increasing support from the official representatives of the Dutch Jewish community. Up until 1962, only the rabbi of the liberal Jewish community of Amsterdam had agreed to support the Auschwitz Committee, but in 1962, that is after the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, the four main rabbis of the Netherlands adhered to the Committee and Jewish organizations participated in the distribution of invitations for the commemorative events organized by the Committee.(58) Even the Israeli consul participated in the commemorations, assisted only by his Polish and Soviet counterparts; moreover, the ambassador pressed the government to give more weight to the martyrdom of its Jewish citizens than to its anti-Communist reflexes.(59) In articles in the press, the repeated official refusal was criticized as `heartless'.(60)

Meanwhile, the public notoriety of Auschwitz as a particular site of Jewish suffering received an enormous impetus with the great Auschwitz trial, where former Nazi camp officials were sentenced before a German court in Frankfurt in 1964. Public awareness of the Dutch part in the genocide of the Jews first broke through with the contemporary transmission on public television of the documentary series `The Occupation', starring the national war historian Louis de Jong. The first comprehensive history of the persecution and mass murder of Dutch Jews, by J. Presser, appeared in April 1965. Presser had initially worried whether the 10,000 printed copies would find buyers in the first two years after publication, as his publisher expected. The copies were sold out in two days, and before the end of the year more than 100,000 copies had been printed, including a pocket edition. Presser, overwhelmed by this completely unexpected public reaction, described it as `an explosion' and `a crushing experience'.(61) Only one year after the twentieth anniversary, the Dutch government finally decided to contribute to the monument at Auschwitz. The new Catholic prime minister, J. M. L. Th. Cals, abandoned the policy of his predecessors, arguing that `the government is fully aware that Auschwitz is not the only place where an extermination camp was established, but the name of Auschwitz--and as such it occupies a very particular place--has grown into a symbol of the mass destruction of the opponents of the Nazi regime in the years 1933-1945'.(62) The Auschwitz Committee continued its campaign in the following years, this time against the Dutch state's official neglect of Jewish survivors, as opposed to the victims of the Resistance, who had benefited from a special pension since 1947. A television documentary in February 1968 prompted interventions in parliament, which would finally, in 1972, produce a belated recognition by the Dutch state of its responsibility for the survivors of the genocide.

The conclusions from the Dutch example can not easily be generalized. The dimensions of the Jewish tragedy in the Netherlands were incommensurably greater, and while the exclusion of a Jewish memory during the first two post-war decades was more absolute, the emergence of a Jewish memory probably took place earlier in the Netherlands than in France and Belgium. One possible explanation for this could be the early official acceptance of the anti-fascist paradigm in the latter two countries. Jewish victims were, after all, not excluded from the national memory and from legal recognition, as had been the case in the Netherlands; and Jewish survivors were welcome in the French FNDIRP and the Belgian CNPPA. The peaceful co-existence of a Jewish memory and a pro-Communist commemorative activism would abruptly come to an end only with the Six Day War in 1967 and the anti-Semitic purges of 1968 in Poland. Survivors were, from then onwards, divided by the inescapable choice between their Communist and their Jewish allegiance. Auschwitz as a joint symbol of international Jewish and national Polish martyrdom became politically incompatible. Accusations from the Communist side that anti-Semitism was a West German monopoly would be replaced with anti-Communist accusations of anti-Semitic campaigns orchestrated in Cairo and Moscow. Henry Rousso points at the changing perceptions of the state of Israel in France, and the repercussions of De Gaulle's pro-Arab declarations, which prompted comparison of anti-Zionist policies with Vichy's anti-Semitism. Yet he situates the emergence of a Jewish memory only in the second half of the 1970s, with the `affairs' involving Vichy officials implied in the deportation of Jews, the polemic on the transmission of the American television drama `Holocaust' in 1979, and the emergence of `negationist' militants on the fringe of the French historical profession denying the very existence of the genocide.(63) In Belgium, the absence of a public debate on the genocide seems to suggest that references to the particular experience of the Jews only really permeated the public discourse as they became instrumental in combatting the openly xenophobic extreme right as it entered parliament in the 1980s. The `reversal of memories' referred to in the introduction was, in any case, a very gradual process, allowing for different chronologies in different countries, whereby the emergence of a Jewish memory did not signal the immediate and complete decay of patriotic and Cold War memories.



The occupied countries of Europe in the post-war years were in desperate need of patriotic memories. Defeat and occupation, and even liberation by allied foreign armies, constituted an unprecedented trauma for the national identities of France, Belgium and the Netherlands. A national memory glorifying the Resistance was a precondition for post-war recovery. The search for heroism comprised a patriotic commemoration of persecution. The concentration camp became the symbolic repository of national martyrdom. Yet the patriotic memory of the camps denied the heterogeneity of Nazi persecution, commemorating the heroic few at the expense of the majority of victims, particularly the Jews. The patriotic memory of the `univers concentrationnaire' was a mythical amalgamation of very different realities, blurring the singular character of the genocide. A commemoration of the genocide as such had threatening implications and was thus incompatible with the reconstruction of national self-esteem. Guilt and shame were certainly equally responsible for the unspeakability of the memory of the genocide; however, the failure of post-war memories to recognize the `otherness' of the genocide was only part of the national memories of the occupation as a whole. The absence of such a commemoration was caused by the limited ability of the traumatized post-war societies to commemorate something singular which was not part of the ordinary and recognizable context of persecution. Societies that were absorbed by their own crises of national confidence awarded a very low priority to remembering a tragedy that was, because of its extraordinary and extra-territorial character, peripheral to their national existence. The construction of a national epic had a pressing urgency. Since the memory of the genocide could not be instrumentalized and was not constructive for patriotic memories, its commemoration had the lowest possible urgency. It is revealing that the requirements for national memory in recovering nations are very similar to the requirements for national memory in an emerging nation. As the research of Idith Zertal and Tom Segev illustrates, the commemoration of the genocide was similarly incompatible with the combatant identity of the young state of Israel. The perceived passivity and defence-less victimization of diaspora Jews was rejected as the very opposite of Zionist activism and conquest. Until the capture and trial of Eichmann in 1960-1, Auschwitz was considered a shameful memory for international Jewry. Only the heroic memory of the uprising of the Warsaw ghetto could provide inspiration for the battles of the day. It was only afterwards that the `Holocaust' was gradually integrated as a cornerstone of Israeli national identity.(64) De-Judaization--assimilationism in the case of inclusive anti-fascist memories, or exclusion and sometimes anti-Semitism in exclusive anti-Communist and patriotic memories--was a consequence of this and not its primary motivation.

From the late 1940s onwards, the construction of national memories was reinforced by the construction of Cold War memories. The anti-Communists chose the concentration camp as the symbolic target of their campaigns. The equation of the Gulag with the Nazi camp, and the accompanying equation of Communism with Nazism in the doctrine of totalitarianism presupposed the active oblivion of the genocide. The Communist reply to this turned the Nazi camps into the symbols of anti-fascist martyrdom. Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen became symbols of a truly de-Nazified, popular-democratic Germany, whereas Auschwitz became the monument to international Communist and national Polish martyrdom. Genocide did not meet the requirements of ideological mobilization on either side. Yet the commemorative dynamic launched around the sites of these camps by pro-Communist groups, which created organizations, monuments, pilgrimages and rituals, would go on to contribute to the emergence of a Jewish memory in the Netherlands, France and Belgium during the 1960s and 1970s.

The commemoration of persecution during World War II as a strategy for mobilizing public opinion would prove self-defeating. From the social and ideological memory of the survivors' activism a historical memory of the dead would emerge--in other words, a predominantly Jewish memory. The memory of Nazi persecution, for patriots and Cold War activists alike, required the opposite profile to be worthy of commemoration (commemorable). When heroism, choice and ideology were the criteria, the victims of genocide did not stand out. Persecuted for something they had not chosen, for the simple reason of being born Jews, they were placed at the bottom of the hierarchy of martyrs. In a properly historical memory, the hero-victims, the examples of martyrs of national liberation or political opposition, are legion. They were commemorated because they could be integrated into a national epic and an ideological discourse. The victims of the genocide were not commemorated because they could not be integrated in this way and because their memory was inert to the chemistry of post-war commemoration. It is precisely this singular character that has taken more time to be recognized, but it has also proven less ephemeral in the long run.

(1) This small survey is merely illustrative and cannot claim to be statistically representative. The Nazi period is studied at the end of the last year of high school in Belgium and had not yet been dealt with in the history classes of those students participating in the survey. The author thanks Guy Putseys and the students of the Saint Albert College in Leuven for their co-operation. Prisoners of war were the seventh most frequently named category (37 students or 19.1 per cent). For criticism of this discourse, see n. 6.

(2) Direction de la gendarmerie. Bureau technique. Paris, le 13 juin 1945. Synthese pour la periode du 15 avril au 15 mai 1945. Section contemporaine des Archives Nationales, Paris, 72 AJ 384.

(3) For France, see Annette Wieviorka, Deportation et genocide: entre la memoire et l'oubli (Paris, 1992); Marie-Anne Matard-Bonucci and Eduard Lynch (eds.), La Liberation des camps et le retour des deportee (Brussels, 1995); Richard C. Vinen, `The End of an Ideology? Right-Wing Anti-Semitism in France, 1944-1970', Hist. Jl, xxxvii (1994), Simone Veil, `Reflexions d'un temoin', Annales E.S.C., iii (1993); Beatrice Philippe, Etre juif dans la societe francaise (Paris, 1979), 369-72. For Belgium and the Netherlands, see Pieter Lagrou, `Le Retour des survivants des camps de concentration aux Pays-gas et en Belgique: de l'ostracisme a l'heroisation', in Matard-Bonucci and Lynch (eds.), La Liberation des camps. For the Netherlands, see Dienke Hondius, Terugkeer: anti-semitisme in Nederland rond de bevrijding (The Hague, 1990); Dienke Hondius, `A Cold Reception: Holocaust Survivors in the Netherlands and their Return', Patterns of Prejudice, xxviii, 1 (1994); Connie Kristel, "'De moeizame terugkeer": de repatriering van de Nederlandse overlevenden uit de Duitse concentratiekampen', Oorlogsdocumentatie `40-'45: Jaarboek van her Rijksinstituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie (Amsterdam, 1989). For Poland, see David Engel, Facing the Holocaust: The Polish Government in Exile and the Jews, 1943-1945 (Chapel Hill, 1993). For Poland and the former USSR, see Lucy Dawidowicz, The Holocaust and the Historians (Cambridge, Mass., 1981). For Great Britain, see Tony Kushner, The Holocaust and the Liberal Imagination: A Social and Cultural History (Oxford, 1994); David Cesarani, `Le Crime contre l'Occident: les reactions britanniques a la "liberation" des camps de concentration nazis en 1945', in Matard-Bonucci and Lynch (eds.), La Liberation des camps.

(4) Maxime Steinberg, `Les Derives Plurielles de la memoire d'Auschwitz', Centrale: periodique trimestriel de la vie communautaire juive, cclix (1993), 6-9; cclx (1993), 11-14.

(5) Kushner, Holocaust and the Liberal Imagination. The same theme is taken up by Cesarani, `Le Crime contre ['Occident'; Tony Kushner, `Different Worlds: British Perceptions of the Final Solution during the Second World War', in David Cesarani (ed.), The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation (London and New York, 1994) Tony Kushner, The Persistence of Prejudice: Anti-Semitism in British Society during the Second World War (Manchester and New York, 1989). In 1981, Lucy Dawidowicz pursued a similar line of thought in Holocaust and the Historians. Todd M. Endelman objects quite rightly to Kushner's and Cesarani's line of thought, arguing that `hostility to Jewish particularism seems conceptually unrelated to any political creed, liberal, conservative, or socialist, no matter how broadly defined'; furthermore, he refers to Richard Bolchover, British Jewry and the Holocaust (Cambridge, 1993), who dismisses Anglo-Jewish fears about anti-Semitism as `neurotic'. See Todd M. Endelman, `Jews, Aliens and Other Outsiders in British History', Hist. Jl, xxxvii (1994).

(6) A balanced analysis can be found in Jean-Michel Chaumont, `Connaissance ou reconnaissance? Les Enjeux du debat sur la singularite de la Shoah', Le Debat, lxxxii (1994). For France, the trials of Klaus Barbie and Paul Touvier on charges of `crimes against humanity', and the ensuing legal debate as to which crimes could be prosecuted--genocide, or `ordinary' assassinations of non-Jewish persons as well--amplified the debate. Very candid analyses are provided by Alain Finkielkraut, La Memoire vaine: du crime contre l'humanite (Paris, 1989), 35-47; Eric Conan and Henry Rousso, Vichy, un passe qui ne passe pas (Paris, 1994). The criticism by these four authors of a Judaeo-centric memory and of commemorative mobilization for the historical legacy of anti-racism--`une bonne conscience morale a laquelle ne correspond aucun but' (Maurice Agulhon, as quoted ibid., 281)--are much in line with recent criticisms from American scholars of the Holocaust. See Michael R. Marrus, `The Use and Misuse of the Holocaust', in Peter Hayes (ed.), Lessons and Legacies: The Meaning of the Holocaust in a Changing World (Evanston, 1991); Peter Novick, `Holocaust Memory in America', in James E. Young (ed.), The Art of Memory: Holocaust Memorials in History (Munich and New York, 1994).

(7) Raul Hilberg remarks that when he was asked to contribute in 1968 to the Encyclopedia Americana, Auschwitz and Treblinka did not even exist as entries. On the slow comprehension of what had actually happened to European Jewry and its scale, see his `Opening Remarks: The Discovery of the Holocaust', in Hayes (ed.), Lessons and Legacies.

(8) The German policy regarding prisoners of war (POWs) had been deliberately divisive. In Belgium, Flemish POWs were liberated, but not all Walloons. In the Netherlands, all POWs were liberated in 1940, but later on very partially called back. In France, though the return of the POWs had been a major endeavour of the Vichy regime, 1 million of the 1.5 million soldiers initially captured lived through five years of captivity. In addition, the veterans of the `army of the defeat' of 1940 had to challenge the commemorative hegemony of the veterans of the victorious army of 1918. See Christophe Lewin, Le Retour des prisonniers de guerre francais (Paris 1986). For the war years, see Yves Durand, La Captivite: histoire des prisonniers de guerre francais, 1939-1945 (Paris, 1980).

(9) Pieter Lagrou, `De Terugkeer van de weggevoerde arbeiders in Belgie en Nederland, 1945-1955: mythen en taboes rond de verplichte tewerkstelling', in De verplichte tewerkstelling in Duitsland, 1942-1945 (Brussels, 1993) (with French abstract). For France, see Michel Gratier de Saint-Louis, `Histoire d'un retour: les STO du Rhone', Cahiers d'histoire, xxxiv, nos. 3-4 (1995); Conan and Rousso, Vichy, 179-82; Wieviorka, in Matard-Bonucci and Lynch (eds.), La Liberation des camps, 236; Francois Cochet, Les Exclus de la victoire: histoire des prisonniers de guerre, deportee et STO (1945-1985) (Paris, 1992).

(10) The comparative statistics for persecution by the Nazis in Belgium, France and the Netherlands present a major problem. On the one hand, German wartime sources and Belgian, French and Dutch post-war sources enable the compilation of accurate statistics for the deportation and return of Jewish victims. See Maxime Steinberg, `Les Yeux du temoin et le regard du borgne: lecture critique d'un genocide au quotidian', Cahiers du Centre de Recherches et d'Etudes Historiques de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, xii (1989); Maxime Steinberg, Les Yeux du temoin et le regard du borgne: l'histoire face au revisionnisme (Paris, 1990), 155-74; J. Presser, Ondergang: de vervolging en Verdelging van het Nederlandse Jodendom, 1940-1945, 2 vols. (The Hague, 1965), u, 410-13; Louis de long, Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog, 14 vols. (The Hague, 1978), viii, 887-90; Serge Klarsfeld, Memorial de la deportation des juifs de France (Paris, 1978); Serge Klarsfeld and Maxime Steinberg, Le Memorial de la deportation des juifs de Belgique (Brussels and New York, 19X2). These statistics present scholars with baffling differences in the extermination rate of the Jewish population in the three countries, a question addressed by J. C. H. Blom, `De Vervolging van joden in Nederland in internationaal vergelijkend perspectief', De Gids, cl (1987); Maxime Steinberg, `Le Paradoxe francais dans la solution finale a l'Oest', Annales E.S.C., iii (1993); Helen Fein, Accounting for Genocide: National Responses and Jewish Victimisation during the Holocaust (New York and London, 1979). On the other hand, the remaining category of non-Jewish victims presents manifold problems. The amalgamation of people persecuted for a variety of reasons -- resisters, reprisal hostages, Communists, and black marketeers, for instance -- greatly complicates the formulation of reliable statistics. Post-war national sources are established on the basis of legal and administrative criteria which are discussed further in this article. For Belgium, for example, they include the inmates of Belgian prisons who were detained for a minimum of thirty days, but exclude some categories of concentrationnaires of the Nazi camps. For France, national figures based on regional censuses are controversial: see Wieviorka, in Matard-Bonucci and Lynch (eds.), La Liberation des camps, 234, 237. The Juxtaposition of these figures with those provided for the Netherlands by historian Louis De Jong, should be interpreted with the utmost caution. The overall conclusions drawn by Maxime Steinberg as to the very different realities of genocide and `Vernichtung durch Arbeit' cannot be doubted, but the provision of statistics of equal reliability for non-Jewish victims would require an enormous amount of research, a task for which, as Steinberg himself mentions, the necessary sources are available, but not the necessary resources: Steinberg, Les Yeux du temoin, 165. Moreover, contary to what Steinberg claims, figures of `political prisoners' and Jewish victims should not be added up, since the former comprise a significant minority of the latter. The same reservation applies for the `deportees and internees' in France.

(11) Careful and intelligent analyses of anti-Semitism in the Netherlands after 1945 are provided by Hondius, Terugkeer and `Cold Reception'. Incidents of anti-Semitism in France are related in Eduard Lynch, `Les Filtres successifs de l'information', in Matard-Bonucci and Lynch (eds.), La Liberation des camps, 169. Though primarily concerned with the period after 1954, Richard C. Vinen's article `Right-Wing Anti-Semitism in France', is also revealing for the earlier period. The most recent contributions, in spite of what their titles state, neglect the crucial period immediately after the end of the war: see, for example, Robert S. Wistrich, `Anti-Semitism in Europe after 1945', in Wistrich (ed.) Terms of Survival: The Jewish World since 1945 (London and New York, 1995); Frederick Weil, `The Extent and Structure of Anti-Semitism in Western Populations since the Holocaust', in Helen Fein (ed.), The Persisting Question: Socological Perspectives and Social Contexts of Modern Anti-Semitism, 3 vols. (Berlin and New York, 1987), i. At the other end of the spectrum, the piece by Philo Bregstein, `Le Paradoxe Nederlandais', in Leon Poliakov (ed.), Histoire de l'anti-semitisme, 5 vols. (Paris, 1993), v, 1945-1993, 416, seems to me an example of intellectual terrorism under the guise of the study of anti-Semitism. Bregstein accuses one of the foremost recent scholars of Nazi persecution in Belgium, Gie van den Berghe, of anti-Semitism in De Uitbuiting van de Holocaust (Antwerp and Baarn, 1990), for having criticized Israeli instrumentalization of the Holocaust in terms that were far more prudent than those of, among others, Tom Segev, Idith Zerthall, Amos Elon and Michael R. Marrus. One can only regret such abuses.

(12) See, for example, the testimonies of Jo van Dam in Amsterdam, in Hondius, Terugkeer, 89, and of Fanny Segal in Paris, in Matard-Bonucci and Lynch (eds.), La Liberation des camps, 122. Similar incidents occurred in Germany, where German civilians requisitioned by the Allies for the distribution of food-rationing cards marked the cards of Jewish survivors with the rubber stamp Jude from the Nazi administration: Wolfgang Jacobmeyer, Vom Zwangarbeiter zum Heimatlosen Auslander: Die Displaced Persons in Westdeutschland, 1945-1951 (Gottingen, 1985), 44.

(13) Wieviorka observes that the refusal by French repatriation officials to distinguish between Jewish and non-Jewish victims on official documents was a return to the republican tradition, and that any other line of conduct would have been vehemently rejected by Jewish organizations: Wieviorka, Deportation et genocide, 67. The official report on the Belgian repatriation effort prided itself on the refusal to distinguish between repatriates on the basis of `race, religion or opinion': `these principles are part of the spiritual heritage we have fought to defend and that has been safeguarded through victory' (`ces principes font partie du patrimoine spirituel pour la defense duquel nous nous sommes battus et que la victoire nous a preserve'). See Rapport sur l'activite du Commissariat Belge au Rapatriement (Brussels, July 1945), 8.

(14) Hondius, Terugkeer, 79-85.

(15) `A bas la guerre, a teas les denonciateurs, les juifs au poteau', in Synthese pour la periode du 15 fevrier au 15 mars 1945 (Paris, 12 Apr. 1945). The subsequent report, Synthese pour la periode du 15 mars au 15 avril 1945 (Paris, 22 May 1945), mentioned `quelques graffitis prennent a part Juifs et communistes': Section Contemporaine des Archives Nationales, 72AJ 384.

(16) Jewish foreigners: Soon after the liberation, a certain number of Jews of foreign origin [nationality] engaged in excessive activity, both because of the small number of them and because of the fact that they were foreigners. The regional office has been assailed by requests for assistance, emanating from various Jewish associations who appear remarkably in accord with each other. Consequently, I have instructed my information service to do a survey of all the Jewish associations of Toulouse and the region ... In order to put a stop to the schemes [agissements] of certain of these foreigners, which were likely to provoke a new crisis of anti-Semitism, I decided at the time of the creation of the local association for Political and Racial Deportees, to appeal for Jewish representatives--on the one hand to the Rabbi, and on the other to two members of very old and well-known Toulouse families--deeming that in this way the interests of a particularly oppressed group would be best served': Ministere des Prisonniers de Guerre, Deportes et Refugies: extrait du rapport de la Direction Regionale de Toulouse en date du 12 Fevrier 1945 (Paris, 5 Mar. 1945), Section Contemporaine des Archives Nationales, F9 3172.

(17) For the Netherlands, see Elma Verhey, Om het joodse kind (Amsterdam, 1991). For France, particularly the Finally affair, see Henry Rousso, Le Syndrome de Vichy (Paris, 1987), 66-7; Vinen, `End of an Ideology?', 372-3; Wieviorka, Deportation et genocide, 368-90.

(18) Leo Hendrickx, Gekneveld en Bevrijd (Maaseik, 1945), 140-1.

(19) Pieter Lagrou, `Herdenken en Vergeten: de politieke verwerking van verzet en vervolging in Nederland en Belgie na 1945', Spiegel Historiael, xxix (1994).

(20) Rousso, Le Syndrome de Vichy, 42-55.

(21) Peter Romijn, Snel, Streng en Rechtvaardig: Politiek beleid inzake de bestraffing en reclassering van `foute' Nederlanders, 1945-1955 (De Haan, 1989), 74-8; Lagrou, `De Terugkeer', 218-20.

(22) Pieter Lagrou, `Verzet en naoorlogse politick', in Luc Huyse and Kris Hoflack (eds.), De Demokratie Heruitgevonden: Oud en Nieuw in politiek Belgie, 1944-1950 (Leuven, 1995).

(23) `Historique', Bulletin officiel de la CNPPA [i, 1946]; Brunfaut, `interpellation', Parlementaire Handelingen Kamer (Brussels, 25 Oct. 1945), 1182.

(24) G. Canivet, `Autour du status des prisonniers politiques', Bulletin officiel de la CNPPA (Nov. 1946), 1; G. Canivet, `Het Statuut van den Politieken Gevangene', Front, ii (1946), 1, 3.

(25) L'Effort: union rationale des prisonniers politiques, 1940-1945 (Apr. 1946), 27. Though formally merged in the Confederation, schismatic organizations continued this opposition on a very loosely structured basis, especially during the debate on the Act.

(26) Parlementaire Handelingen Kamer (Brussels, 31 Oct. 1946), 4-14; Dokumenten Kamer (Brussels, 18 Sept. 1946), no. 187; Parlementaire Handelingen Senaat (Brussels, 14 Jan. 1947), 368-85; (15 Jan. 1947), 389-94.

(27) Parlementaire Handelingen Senaat (30 Jan. 1947), 499; for the vote (6 Feb. 1947), 507-14, 516-17; Parlementaire Handelingen Kamer (Brussels, 13 Feb. 1947), 3-9, 16, passim; Belgische Staatsblad (16 Mar. 1947), 2703-8; Rene Fraikin, `Allen rond een vlag', Officieel Bulletijn van de NCPGR, ii [Feb. 1947], 1.

(28) Belgish Staatsblad (15 Feb. 1947), 1507.

(29) `Ne donnez pas l'impression qu'une arriere-pensee vous anime: exclure du titre de prisonnier politique les juifs et les communistes arretes le 22 juin 1941': Brunfaut, Parlementaire Handelingen Kamer, 1183. Debates in the National Confederation of Political Prisonners (Confederation Nationale des Presonniers Politiques et leurs Ayant-Droits, hereafter CNPPA) on the inclusion or exclusion of Jewish victims had been disconcertingly explicit. Catholic members opposed the inclusion of `les juifs arretes simplement pour motif racial ou d'autres gens internes pour des motifs autres que patriotiques (p.ex. des traffiquants)', thus setting Jews and black marketeers on the same honourless footing. The macabre vocabulary of the `solution of the Jewish problem' in post-war legislation did not provoke any reaction: `A son avis il ne faut pas reintroduire la question du probleme juif qui sera solutionnee au sein des commissions d'agregation'. Archives of the CNPPA, Brussels, `Compte rendu de la reunion du Conseil National Elargi tenue a la CNPPA' (2 Feb. 1947), 4; (29 Jan. 1947), 5.

(30) See Jules Gerard-Libois and Jose Gotovitch, Leopold III: de l'an '40 a a l'effacement (Brussels, 1991), 287-302.

(31) See Rousso, Le Syndrome de Vichy; Gerard Namer, La Commemoration en France de 1945 a nos jours (Paris, 1987); Pierre Nora, `Gaullistes et communistes', in Pierre Nora (ed.), Les Lieux de memoire, 3 tomes (7 vole.) (Paris, 1992), tome iii, Les France: conflicts et partages, 3 vole., i, 360-71; Paul Thibaud, `La Republique et ses heros: le gaullisme pendant et apres la guerre', Que reste-t-il de la resistance? (special issue Esprit, Jan. 1994), 79-80.

(32) See, in addition to the above, Marie-Claire Lavabre, Le Fil rouge: sociologic de la memoire communiste (Paris, 1994), 190-219.

(33) See Wieviorka, Deportation et genocide, 121-57.

(34) See references to Wieviorka, Rousso, Finkielkraut, Lewin and Durand in nn. 3, 6, 13, 14. Other historians continue to claim that post-war France was blind to the great and undifferentiated mass of all `deportees'. Francois Cochet does so prominently, for all categories of repatriates, including POWs and workers, in the title of his book Les Exclus de la victoire. Bonnucci and Lynch do so for all survivors of the camps--Jews, resisters, hostages--in the very last sentence of their conclusion in La Liberation des camps. They echo the commemorative activism of associations of different groups of repatriates, and thus deny the centrality of `deportation' as a paradigm in French post-war society, as put forward by the previously cited authors and developed further in this article.

(35) Paraphrasing Namer, La Commemoration en France, 7, 8, 11, passim.

(36) Le Deporte (UNADIF) (May 1980).

(37) `Mais ces transplantes ne sont pas des Deportes. Il ne s'agit pas d'une querelle de moss. La "Deportation" n'est pas entree dans l'Histoire seulement comme un deplacement et un travail forces: elle implique les tortures, les convois dementiels, les chambres a gaz et les fours crematoires; la dehumanisations et l'extermination de millions d'etres humains. Elle est inseparable d'une ethique--qu'il convient a jamais a condamner--par laquelle l'etre "superieur" s'arroge le droit d'avilir, avant de le tuer, celui qu'il estime inferieur. Elle constitute le plus grand crime qui ait jamais ete commis contre l'homme, et dont il importe de prevenir le retour. Feindre d'en attenuer l'horreur, en etendant a d'autres le benefice de la triste aureole du nom de Deporte, c'est commettre a la fois un contresens historique, un deni de justice et une offense a la memoire de tous ceux qui furent astreints, eux aussi, au travail force, mais en attente de la mort obligatoire. Les proscits, victimes du STO ne gagnent pas grande chose a exiger le titre de Deporte. Mais, par leur exigence, en creant une deplorable confusion, ils affaiblissent la comprehension, le retentiseement, le gigantisme due crime. Par la, ils se font inconsciemment les complices de l'oubli. Ils font perdre beaucoup a la cause sacree de la defense de l'Homme': `Declaration public par le Reseau du Souvenir', Deportation et liberte, x-xi (1956).

(38) Pieter Lagrou, `Patriotten en Regenten: het parochiale patriottisme van de na-oorlogse Nederlandse illegaliteit, 1945-1980', Oorlogsdocumentatie '40-'45 (1995).

(39) De Jong, Het Koninkrijk, x (b), 160-79; xii, 259-68, 298. For a critical assessment of the famine of 1945, see G. M. T. Trienekens, Tussen ons volk en de honger: de voedselvoorziening, 1940-1945 (Utrecht, 1985), 398-407.

(40) Rita Koopman, as quoted by Hondius, Terugkeer, 94; `Cold Reception', 57. The translation by Hondius `We were so hungry' does not render the suffering expressed in `Wat hebben wij honger geleden'. Similar reactions occurred in France and even in Great Britain, but there they were rather exceptional, whereas they emerged in the Netherlands as the dominant response. Cf. `Mon pauvre Charles, si tu savais comme on a eu faim ici'. Charles Baron, who was 19 years old, lost both parents in Auschwitz and was himself repatriated in April 1945: Charles Baron to Eduard Lynch, 15 Jan. 1995, in Matard-Bonucci and Lynch (eds.), La Liberation des camps, 126. Gena Turgel, survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, heard the following upon arrival in England: `We also had a hard time. We were bombed and had to live in shelters. We had to sleep in the Underground' (as quoted in Kushner, Holocaust and the Liberal Imagination, 238). See also a similar reaction by Ester Brunstein to David Cesarani, 21 Dec. 1994, in Matard-Bonucci and Lynch (eds.), La Liberation des camps, 248.

(41) Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague (Archive of the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, hereafter ACPM), box 127, 17 Jan. 1946, `Notitie voor S. van V.' (memo to Prime Minister Schermerhorn by one of his advisers); `map hulpverlening aan illegale werkers en nagelaten betrekkingen 1945-1952', nr. 355.358.361.

(42) Lagrou, `Herdenken en Vergeten'; D. H. Schram and C. Geljon (eds.), Overal sporen: de verwerking van de Tweede Wereldoorlog in literatuur en kunst (Amsterdam 1990); Wim Rademaker and Ben van Bohemen, Sta een ogenblik stil . . . Monumentenboek, 1940-1945 (Kampen, 1980).

(43) H. W. Sandberg, secretary of the Advisory Commission of the Dutch Underground Movement (Grote Adviescommissie der Illegaliteit), to the local `Plaatselijke Adviesraad der Illegaliteit te Dordrecht', Amsterdam, 13 Nov. 1945, concerning the association of former political prisoners: Archive of the Grote Adviescommissie der Illegaliteit (hereafter GAC), Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation, Amsterdam, 184, 4D.

(44) See the surprisingly critical commemorative publication edited by the Foundation, Woord Gehouden: Veertig jaar Stichting, 1940-1945 (The Hague, 1985).

(45) Ibid., 22.

(46) This theme is fully worked out in Pieter Lagrou, `La Resistance et les conceptions de l'Europe, 1945-1965: le monde associatif international d'anciens resistants et victimes de la persecution devant la Guerre Froide, le probleme Allemand et l'integration Europeenne', in Antoine Fleury and Robert Frank (eds.), Le Role des guerres dans la memoire des Europeens: leur effet sur Zeur conscience d'etre europeen (forthcoming, Frankfurt and New York).

(47) See Jacobmeyer, Vom Zwangarbeiter zum Heimatlosen Auslander, 123-51, for the best treatment of the repatriation question. See also Mark Elliot, Pawns of Yalta: Soviet Refugees and America's Role in their Repatriation (Urbana, 1982), Nicholas Bethell, The Last Secret: Forcible Repatriation to Russia, 1944-1947 (London, 1974). For the Netherlands, see M. A. P. van den Berg, `De repatriatnenkwestie na 1945: Terugkeer van Nederlanders uit de Soviet-Unie', in Roholl, Waegemans and Willemsen (eds.), De Lage Landen en de Sovietunie: Beeldvorming en Betrekkingen (Amsterdam, 1989).

(48) See, for example, the article `US asks UN Study on Slave Labor in Soviet Union' Dept of State Bull. (27 Feb. 1949), as quoted by Cathal J. Nolan, `Americans in the Gulag: Detention of US Citizens by Russia and the Onset of the Cold War', Jl Contemporary Hist., xxv (1990). In this article, Nolan makes an unfortunate connection between forced repatriation by the United States and a series of diplomatic conflicts over Soviet citizens claiming American citizenship, to arrive at the conclusion that the addition of these issues `made it additionally difficult for officials in Washington to avoid seeing a parallel between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany', thus paying a late tribute to Cold War propaganda.

(49) Hubert Halin, `Voyage d'etude de la Resistance en Allemagne de l'Est', Les Deux Allemagnes (special issue, La Voix internationale de la Resistance, 1960). Halin was one of the main proponents of anti-Communist agitation among European resistance veterans and survivors of the camps, defending NATO, European integration and Wiedergutmachung.

(50) See Emile Copfermann, David Rousset: une vie dans le siecle (Paris, 1949), 113-42; Emile Copfermann, `Les Occultations de la memoire: le proces contre "Les Lettres Francaises et la Commission d'Enquete Internationale" sur les camps de concentration' (paper presented at the international congress, `Histoire et memoire des crimes et genocides nazis', organized by the Auschwitz Foundation, Brussels, Nov. 1992). Rousset's Dutch counterpart, Karel Van Staal's activities are thoroughly documented in ACPM, 355.358:343.819.5, `Concentratiekampen' (hereafter ACPM, Con.).

(51) Cf. Lagrou, `La Resistance'; Hermann Langbein, `Unterlagen zu meinem Diskussionsbeitrag "Internationale Organisationen der Uberlebenden der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager ab 1954 bis heute -- vor allem Auschwitz betreffend"' (paper presented at the international congress, `Histoire et memoire des crimes et genocides nazis', Brussels, Nov. 1992); Hermann Langbein, `Entschadigung fur KZ-Haftlinge? Ein Erfahrungsbericht', in Ludolf Herbst and Constantin Goschler (eds.), Wiedergutmachung in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Sondernummer Schriftenreihe der Vierteljahrshefte fur Zeirgeschichte (Munich, 1989); Luc Sommerhausen, `Buchenwald, Ravensbruck, Mauthausen, Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen: la mainmise de Moscou sur les comites internationaux des camps', La Voix internationale de la Resistance, xxxiii-xxxiv (1960), 2-3.

(52) For Auschwitz, see, for example, Waclaw Dlugoborski, `Auschwitz and Holocaust in the Memory of East-Central European Societies before and after 1989' (paper presented at `Per una Memoria Europea dei Crimini Nazisti', Arezzo, June 1994). For a more general context, see the chapter on Poland in Dawidowicz, Holocaust and the Historians, 88-124. For the East German sites, see, for example, Peter Sonnet, `Gedenkstatten fur Opfer der Nationalsozialismus in der DDR', in Ulrike Puvogel (ed.), Gedenkstatten fur Opfer des Nationalsozialismus: Eine Documentation (Schriftenreihe der Bundeszentrale fin politische Bildung, ccxlv, Bonn, 1987), 769-806; Eve Rosenhaft, `The Uses of Remembrance: The Legacy of the Communist Resistance in the German Democratic Republic', in Francis R. Nicosia and Lawrence D. Stokes (eds.), Germans against Nazism: Nonconformity, Opposition and Resistance in the Third Reich (New York and Oxford, 1990); Claudia Koonz, `Between Memory and Oblivion: Concentration Camps in German Memory', in John R. Gillis (ed.), Commemorations: The Politics of National identity (Princeton, 1994). For the purge of Communist monuments since German reunification, see Zur Neuorientierung der Gedenkstatte Buchenwald: Die Empfehlungen der vom Minister fur Wissenschaften und Kunst des Landes Thuringen berufenen Historikerkommission (Weimar-Buchenwald, 1992); Monika Zorn (ed.), Hitlers zweimal getotete Opfer: Westdeutsche Endlosung des Antifaschismus auf dem Gebiet der DDR (Reihe: Unerwunschte Bucher zum Faschismus, no. 6, Freiburg, 1994); Sarah Farmer, `Symbols That Face Two Ways: Commemorating the Victims of Nazism and Stalinism at Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen', Representations, no. 49 (1995).

(53) Harold Marcuse, `Des ehemalige Konzentrationslager Dachau: Der Muhevolle Weg zur Gedenkstatte, 1945-1968', Dachauer Hefte, vi (1990); Barbara Distel, `Orte der Erinnerung an die Opfer im Lande der Tater -- Gedanken zur Arbeit und der Gedenkstatte des Ehemaligen Konzentrationslagers Dachau, Bulletin de la Fondation Auschwitz, xl-xli (1994).

(54) A very forceful testimony is given by Charles van West, `Ce n'tait pas encore une necessite, mais maintenant c'est devenu une obsession', interview by Yannis Thanassekos and Jean-Michel Chaumont, Bulletin trimestriel de la Fondation Auschwitz, xxxii-xxxiii (1992).

(55) See the correspondence on this matter from the international and the Dutch Auschwitz committees, the memoranda drafted for discussion in the cabinet meetings and the interventions by parliamentarians, particularly Goedhart and van der goes van Naters in ACPM, Con.

(56) ACPM, Con., report 784.128, Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst (24 May 1965). See also the reports: 10 May 1962; 10 Sept. 1964; 21 Jan., 22 Dec. 1965: 18, 28 Jan., and 18 Feb. 1966. The author wishes to thank the archivist of the Ministerie van Algemene Zaken, Fred van den Kieboom, for his assistance in obtaining the declassification of these reports in record time.

(57) The cabinet systematically inquired through its embassies abroad which position other western European governments had adopted in this matter. Only the ambassador in Rome declined to inquire `given the delicate character of this matter, concerning the Italian position during the war'. See ACPM, Con.

(58) ACPM, Con., Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst (24 May 1965).

(59) The cabinet had first contacted Willem Drees, who had recommended that the Israeli embassy be heard in this matter: ACPM, Con., Nota voor de Minister-President van Mej. de Jong (14 Sept. 1961); Nota voor Minister-President (15 Feb. 1962).

(60) Het Vrije Volk, 28 Jan. 1963. Earlier remarks in the Communist De Waarheid 23 June 1961, and later in De Tijd/Maasbode, 1 May 1965, explicitly criticized the exaggerated anti-Communism that motivated the official refusal.

(61) J. Presser, `Een boek ziet het licht', Nederlands Auschwitz Comite: Herdenkingsnummer (Jan. 1966). In `De jeugd en Auschwitz' in the same volume, Ch. Duyns mentioned that when sixty students between 14 and 18 years of age were asked `what does the name Auschwitz signify to you?', they all answered something to the effect of `a concentration camp where the Germans have murdered many Jews'. None had heard of Auschwitz in school, just through reporting on the Frankfurt Process. Only three students spelled Auschwitz correctly, and one student confused it with Austerlitz. The diaries of the young Dutch girl, Anne Frank, recording her life in hiding in Amsterdam (not, of course, her deportation to Auschwitz and death in Bergen-Belsen), only became a commercial success in the Netherlands after the success of its translations abroad: 1,500 copies of the book were first published in the Netherlands in 1947; it was reprinted in small numbers until 1950, then disappeared from the book market until 1955; and only afterwards did sales very gradually reach the tens of thousands of copies. See Gerrold van der Stroom, Rijksinstituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie: de Dagboeken van Anne Frank (Amsterdam, 1990), 69-90; A. G. H. Anbeek van der Meijden, `De Tweede Wereldoorlog in de Nederlandse roman', in [David Barnouw, Madelon de Keizer and Gerrold van der Stroom (eds.)], 1940-1945: Onverwerkt verleden? (Utrecht, 1985), 73, 79.

(62) The declaration did not mention the Jews by name and continued the amalgamation of Jewish victims and opponents of the regime, particularly by extending Auschwitz's symbolic importance to the start of the Nazi regime, that is, long before the invasion of Poland in 1939 and long before the opening of the camp and the commencement of the genocide in 1942: see ACPM, Con., Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst, 14 Sept. 1966.

(63) Rousso, Le Syndrome de Vichy, 147-82.

(64) Idith Zertal, `Du Bon Usage du souvenir: les Israeliens et la Shoah', Le Debat, lviii (1990); Tom Segev, The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust (New York, 1993), 593.

(*) This a much revised version of a paper presented at the conference `Per una Memoria Europea dei Crimini Nazisti' in Arezzo in June 1994. The author wishes to thank Stuart Woolf and Eric Hobsbawm for encouraging him to submit this article for publication, Jean-Michel Chaumont and Cyril Adjei for their constructive criticism on earlier drafts.
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Author:Lagrou, Pieter
Publication:Past & Present
Date:Feb 1, 1997
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