Jewish Cultural Quarter, Amsterdam. Photo: Holland Tourism Ministry.

The Netherlands on Thursday marked the 80th anniversary of the “February Strike” in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities and towns against the round-up of Jews by the occupying Nazis.

Tens of thousands of Dutch citizens participated in a general strike that began on Feb. 25, 1941 after more than 400 Jewish males were seized and deported to the Buchenwald and Mauthausen concentration camps. Led by the banned Dutch Communist Party, the strike was explicitly held in solidarity with the persecuted Dutch Jewish community. After beginning with a mass walkout by tram drivers in Amsterdam, the strike spread to other sectors and then to other parts of the country, including the cities of Hilversum and Utrecht in the east and south of Holland.

The strike was brutally crushed by the German police within two days. It remains the first and only direct action against the Nazi extermination of European Jews during World War II.

Broadcast on national television, Thursday’s ceremony was held on a much smaller scale than intended due to COVID-19 public health protocols.

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Among those who addressed the ceremony in the center of Amsterdam was the city’s Mayor, Femke Halsema. She paid tribute to the “men and women, from all walks and life, who gathered in solidarity with the Jewish inhabitants of our city.”

Geert Mak, a Dutch historian and writer, warned those in attendance that antisemitic and racist ideas were becoming mainstream once again.

“The jargon, the language, the world of ideas at that time, they have once again become part of the normal, public and political debate,” Mak said, as he blamed social media platforms for the shift.

“Suddenly they are no longer historical theories or fearful memories,” he added. “No, it’s back in a very concrete way.”