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How the Holocaust is remembered in the land of Anne Frank

(JTA) — You’d think that in a country so closely identified with Anne Frank — perhaps the Holocaust’s best-known victim — cultivating memory of the genocide wouldn’t be a steep challenge.

That’s why a recent survey, suggesting what the authors called a “disturbing” lack of knowledge in the Netherlands about the Holocaust, set off alarm bells. “Survey shows lack of Holocaust awareness in the Netherlands,” wrote the Associated Press. “In the Netherlands, a majority do not know the Holocaust affected their country,” was the JTA headline.The Holocaust is a myth, a quarter of Dutch younger generation agree,per the Jerusalem Post. 

“Survey after survey, we continue to witness a decline in Holocaust knowledge and awareness. Equally disturbing is the trend towards Holocaust denial and distortion,” Gideon Taylor, the president of the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which conducted the study, said in a statement.

Like other recent studies by Claims Conference, the latest survey has been challenged by some scholars, who say the sample size is small, or the survey is too blunt a tool for examining what a country’s residents do or don’t know about their history. Even one of the experts who conducted the survey chose to focus on the positive findings: “I am encouraged by the number of respondents to this survey that believe Holocaust education is important,” Emile Schrijver, the general director of Amsterdam’s Jewish Cultural Quarter, told JTA. 

One of the scholars who says the survey doesn’t capture the subtleties of Holocaust education and commemoration in the Netherlands is Jazmine Contreras, an assistant professor of history at Goucher College in Maryland. Contreras studies the historical memory of the Holocaust and Second World War in Holland. In a Twitter thread earlier this week, she agreed with those who say that “the headline that’s being plastered everywhere exaggerates the idea that young people in NL know nothing about the Holocaust.”  

At the same time, she notes that while the Netherlands takes Holocaust education and commemoration seriously, it has a long way to go in reckoning with a past that includes collaboration with the Nazis, postwar antisemitism, a small but vocal far right and a sense of national victimhood that often downplays the experience of Jews during the Shoah. 

“It’s such a complex issue,” Contreras told me. “There’s no one answer to how the Holocaust is remembered in the Netherlands.”

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and I took the opportunity to speak with Contreras not only about Dutch memory, but how the Netherlands may serve as an example of how countries deal with Holocaust memory and the national stories they tell.

Our interview was edited for length and clarity. 

Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Tell me a little bit about when you saw the survey, and perhaps how it didn’t mesh with what you know about the Netherlands?

Jazmine Contreras: My major problem is that every single outlet is picking up this story and running a headline like, “Youth in the Netherlands don’t even know the Holocaust happened there. They cannot tell you how many people were killed, how many were deported.” And I think that’s really problematic because it paints a really simplistic picture of Holocaust memory and Holocaust education in that country. 

There are multiple programs, in Amsterdam, in other cities, in Westerbork, the former transit camp. They have an ongoing program that brings survivors and the second generation to colleges, to middle schools and primary schools all across the country. And they also have in Amsterdam a program called Oorlog in Mijn Buurt, “War in My Neighborhood,” and basically young people become the “memory bearers”  — that’s the kind of language they use — and interview people who grew up and experience the war in their neighborhood, and then speak as if they were the person who experienced it, in the first person. 

You also have events around the May 4 commemoration remembering the Dutch who died in war and in peacekeeping operations, and a program called Open Jewish Houses [when owners of formerly Jewish property open their homes to strangers to talk about the Jews who used to live there]. It’s really amazing: I’ve actually been able to visit these formerly Jewish homes and hear the stories. And, of course, the Anne Frank House has its own slew of programming, and teachers talk a lot about the Holocaust and take students to synagogues in places like Groningen, where they have a brand new exhibit at the synagogue. They are taking thousands at this point. The new National Holocaust Names Memorial is in the center of Amsterdam

I think, again, this idea that children are growing up without having exposure to Holocaust memory, or knowledge of what happened in the Netherlands, is a bit skewed. I think we get into a dangerous area if we’re painting the country with a broad brush and saying nobody knows anything about the Holocaust.

Have you anecdotal evidence or seen studies of Dutch kids about whether they’re getting the education they need?

Anecdotally, yes. I was invited to attend a children’s commemoration that they do at the Hollandsche Schouwburg theater in Amsterdam, which is the former Dutch theater that was used as a major deportation site. And it’s children who put on a commemoration themselves. Again, not every child is participating in this, but if they’re not participating in the children’s commemoration, then they’re doing the “War in My Neighborhood” program, or they’re doing Open Jewish Houses, or they’re taking field trips. That’s pretty impressive to me, and it’s pretty meaningful. They want to help participate in it in the future. They want to come back because it leaves a lasting impression for them.  

Let’s back up a bit. Anne Frank dominates everyone’s thinking about Holland and the Holocaust. And I guess the story that’s told is that she was protected by her neighbors until, of course, the Nazis proved too powerful, found her and sent her away. What’s right and what’s wrong about that narrative?

Don’t forget that Anne Frank was a German Jewish refugee who came to the Netherlands. And I think that part of the story is also really interesting and left out. She’s this Dutch icon, but she was a German Jewish refugee who came to the Netherlands, and the Dutch Jewish community was single-handedly responsible for funding, at Westerbork, what was first a refugee center. I think that’s really complicated because now we also have a discourse about present-day refugees and the Holocaust. 

Jazmine Contreras, an assistant professor of history at Goucher College, specializes in Dutch Holocaust memory. (Courtesy)

I’ve also never quite understood the insistence on making her an icon when the end of the story is that she’s informed on and dies in a concentration camp. The idea that the Franks were hidden here fits really well into this idea of Dutch resistance and tolerance, and her diary often gets misquoted to kind of represent her as someone who had hope despite the fact that she was being persecuted. In the 1950s, her narrative gets adopted into the U.S., and we treat it as this globalizing human rights discourse. 

We don’t talk about the fact that she’s found because she’s informed upon, and we don’t talk about the fact that you had non-Jewish civilians who were informers for a multitude of reasons, including ideological collaboration and their own financial gain.

And when it was talked about most recently, it was about a discredited book that named her betrayer as a Jew

That was a huge controversy.

I get the sense from your writing that the story the Dutch tell about World War II is very incomplete, and that they haven’t fully reckoned with their collaboration under Nazi occupation even as they emphasize their own victimhood.

On the national state level, they have officially acknowledged not only the extensive collaboration, but the failure of both the government and the Crown to speak out on behalf of Dutch Jews. [In 2020, Prime Minister Mark Rutte formally apologized for how his kingdom’s wartime government failed its Jews, a first by a sitting prime minister.] Now, the question is, what’s happening in broader Dutch society? 

Unfortunately, there was an increase in voting for the Dutch far right, although they’ve never managed to get a majority or even come close to it.

Something else that’s happening is that many ask, “Why should Dutch Jews get separate consideration after the Second World War, a separate victimhood, when we were all victimized?” The Netherlands is unique because it’s occupied for the entirety of the Second World War — 1940 to 1945. There is the civil service collaborating, right, but there’s no occupation government. So it’s not like Belgium. It’s not like France, not like Denmark. And there was the Hunger Winter of 1944-45 when 20,000 civilians perished due to famine. You have real victimhood, so people ask, “Why are the Jews so special? We all suffered.”

And at the same time, scholarship keeps emerging about the particular ways non-Jewish Dutch companies and individuals cooperated with the Nazis. 

The NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam, which has done so much of this research, found that Jews who were deported had to pay utility bills for when they weren’t living there. You have a huge controversy around the the Dutch railway [which said it would compensate hundreds of Holocaust victims for its role in shipping Jews to death camps]. The Dutch Red Cross apologized [in 2017 for failing to act to protect Jews during World War II], following the publication of a research paper on its inaction. A couple of decades ago, the government basically auctioned off paintings, jewelry and other Jewish possessions, and in 2020 they started the effort to give back pieces of art that were in Dutch museums. Dienke Hondius wrote a book on the cold reception given to survivors upon their return. Remco Ensel and Evelien Gans also wrote a book on postwar Jewish antisemitism

So a lot has been happening, a lot of controversies, and, thanks to all of this research, a lot happening in order to rectify the situation.

It sounds like a mixed story, of resistance and collaboration, and of rewriting the past but also coming to terms with it.

There’s a really complex history here of both wanting to present it as “everybody’s a victim” and that the resistance was huge. In fact, the data shows 5% of the people were involved in resistance and 5% were collaborators. So it’s not like this wholesale collaboration or resistance was happening. It was only in 1943, when non-Jewish men were called up for labor service in Germany, that they got really good at hiding people and by then it was too late.

Right. My colleagues at JTA often note that the Nazis killed or deported more Dutch Jews per capita than anywhere in occupied Western Europe — of about 110,000 Jews deported, only a few thousand survived.

Yes, the highest percentage of deportation in Western Europe.

A room at the Anne Frank House museum where she and her family hid for two years during the Holocaust in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. (Photo Collection Anne Frank House)

Since this week is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, let me ask what Holland gets right and wrong compared to maybe some other European countries with either similar experiences or comparable experiences.

The framing of that question is difficult because there’s so many unique points about the Holocaust and the occupation in the Netherlands. Again, it was occupied for the entirety of 1940-45. You have a civil service that was willing to sign Aryan declarations. The queen, as head of a government in exile in London, is basically saying, “Do what you need to just to survive.”

One of the big problems is there are people like Geert Wilders [a contemporary right-wing Dutch lawmaker] who practice this kind of philo-Semitism and support of Israel, but it’s really about blaming the Muslim population for antisemitism and saying none of it is homegrown. They don’t have to talk about the fact that there was widespread antisemitism in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

In the Netherlands they’re not instituting laws around what you can and can’t say about the Holocaust like in Poland [where criticizing Polish collaboration has been criminalized]. There are so many amazing educational initiatives and nonprofit organizations that are doing the work. And even these public controversies ended up being outlets for the production of Holocaust memory when survivors, but mostly now the second and third generations, use that space to talk about their own family Holocaust history.

Tell me about your personal stake in this: How did the Holocaust become a subject of study for you?

I specialize in Dutch Holocaust memory. I’m not Jewish, but my grandparents on my mother’s side are Dutch. For my first project I looked at relationships between German soldiers and Dutch women during the war during the occupation, and I eventually kind of made my way into the post war, when these children of former collaborators were still very marginalized in Dutch society. It ties into this. I do interviews with members of the Jewish community, children of resistance members and children of collaborators and how these memory politics play out.

What is the utility of events like International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the major Holocaust memorials in educating the public about the Holocaust and World War II?

International Holocaust Remembrance Day and May 4 result in the production of new memories about the Holocaust and the Second World War. I was at the 2020 International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration when the prime minister formally apologized. It was a really big moment, and it allowed the Jewish community, and the Roma and Sinti community, a space to remember and to share in that and to speak to it as survivors and the second and third generation. 

Unlike the United States, the Netherlands is a small, insular country, so the relationship between the public and the media and academics is so close. So in the weeks before and the weeks after these memorials, academics, politicians and experts are publishing pieces about memory. That’s useful to the production of new memories and information about the Holocaust.

But what about the other days of the year? Will putting a monument in the center of Amsterdam actually change how people understand the Holocaust? That is a question that I think is harder to answer. The new monument features individual names of 102,000 Jews and Roma and Sinti and visually gives you the scope of what the Holocaust looked like in the Netherlands. But does that matter if somebody lives outside of Amsterdam and they’re never going to see this monument?


The post How the Holocaust is remembered in the land of Anne Frank appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Canada’s economic growth projected to be about 1% in the first half of 2024

Canada is a country with a thriving Jewish community and has traditionally offered the security of a strong economy for residents. The national economic outlook is naturally something that everyone in Canada’s Jewish community keeps track of – especially those involved in business in the various provinces.

With this in mind, the July 2023 Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of Canada made for interesting reading, projecting a moderate economic growth figure of around 1% for the first half of 2024. This is in line with growth figures that had been forecast for the second half of 2023, and sees the country’s economy remain on a stable footing.

Steady projected growth for first half of 2024

Although projected economic growth of around 1% in early 2024 is not as impressive as figures of around 3.4% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, it is certainly no cause for alarm. But what might be behind it?

Higher interest rates are one major factor to consider and have had a negative impact on household spending nationally. This has effectively seen people with less spending power and businesses in Canada generating less revenue as a result.

Interest rate rises have also hit business investments nationally, and less money is being channelled into this area to fuel Canada’s economic growth. When you also factor in how the weak foreign demand for Canadian goods and services has hit export growth lately, the projected GDP growth figure for early 2024 is understandable.

Growth in second half of 2024 expected

Although the above may make for interesting reading for early 2024, the Bank of Canada’s report does show that economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. This is projected to be due to the decreasing effect of high interest rates on the Canadian economy and a stronger foreign demand for the country’s exports.

Moving forward from this period, it is predicted that inflation will remain at around 3% as we head into 2025, and hit the Bank of Canada’s inflation target of 2% come the middle of 2025. All of this should help the country’s financial status remain stable and prove encouraging for business leaders in the Jewish community.

Canada’s economic growth mirrors iGaming’s rise

When you take a look at the previous growth figures Canada has seen and also consider the growth predicted for 2024 (especially in the second half of the year), it is clear that the country has a vibrant, thriving economy.

This economic growth is something that can be compared with iGaming’s recent rise as an industry around the country. In the same way as Canada has steadily built a strong economy over time, iGaming has transformed itself into a powerful, flourishing sector.

This becomes even clearer when you consider that Canadian iGaming has been a major contributor to the sustained growth seen in the country’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry, which rose by around 1.9% in Q2 of 2023. The healthy state of online casino play in Canada is also evidenced by how many customers the most popular casino platforms attract and how the user experience these operators offer has enabled iGaming in the country to take off.

This, of course, is also something that translates to the world stage, where global iGaming revenues in 2023 hit an estimated $95 billion. iGaming’s global market volume is also pegged to rise to around $130 billion by 2027. These kinds of figures represent a sharp jump for iGaming worldwide and show how the sector is on the ascent.

Future economic outlook for Canada in line with global expectations

When considering the Canadian economic outlook for 2024, it is often useful to look at how this compares with global financial predictions. In addition to the rude health of iGaming in Canada being reflected in global online casino gaming, the positive economic outlook for the country is also broadly in line with expectations for many global economies.

Global growth is also predicted to rise steadily in the second half of 2024 before becoming stronger in 2025. This should be driven by the weakening effects of high interest rates on worldwide economic prosperity. With rate cuts in Canada already expected after Feb 2024’s inflation report, this could happen in the near future.

The performance of the US economy is always of interest in Canada, as this is the country’s biggest trading partner. Positive US Q2 performances in 2023, powered by a strong labor market, good consumer spending levels and robust business investments, were therefore a cause for optimism. As a US economy that continues to grow is something that Canadian businesses welcome, this can only be a healthy sign.

Canada set for further growth in 2024

Local news around Canada can cover many topics but the economy is arguably one of the most popular. A projected GDP growth figure of around 1% for Canada’s economy shows that the financial state of the country is heading in the right direction. An improved financial outlook heading into the latter half of 2024/2025 would make for even better reading, and the national economy should become even stronger.

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The Legal Landscape of Online Gambling in Canada

Online gambling has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years. While many jurisdictions have legalized land-based gambling, it hasn’t applied to online platforms. Nonetheless, Canada is one nation that has legalized online gambling with their provinces’ licensing and regulating sites.

Nonetheless, Canadians of legal age can enjoy playing their favourite online games where available. So many games like slots, blackjack, and roulette still maintain their popularity even in the digital sense.  Want to learn about what’s legal in Canada for online gambling? Let’s take a look.

What is legal for online gambling in Canada?

What is the best online casino in Canada? The list we provide you here should be a good start. It’s also important to note that most Canadian provinces do not have laws that prohibit offshore online casinos.

Many provinces provide licensing to online casinos. They even regulate them as well. For example, Alberta and British Columbia have sites regulated by their respective governing bodies. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) allows legal online gambling and oversees the services it offers to Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, there are some caveats to address. In Newfoundland and Labrador, online gambling that is not offered by the ALC is considered illegal. Therefore, it is the only Canadian province as of 2024 that prohibits offshore options.

In terms of the legal age, there are three provinces where the legal age is 18: Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. The remaining provinces establish 19 as the legal age for gambling including online.

Who are the regulatory bodies for gambling in Canada?

At the Federal level, the Canadian Gaming Association is the regulatory body for gambling in Canada. Thus, they cover both land-based and online gambling in the country. There are also provincial and regional regulatory bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) – which covers the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation covers Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. A handful of provinces also have their regulatory bodies covering lottery and gaming.

Canada requires online casinos that wish to accept players from the country to adhere to regulations and licensing. These licenses are provided by provincial regulatory bodies. When licensed, online casinos must follow the regulations and security standards.

However, there is the belief that many of the laws about gambling in Canada may be outdated. This could be because these laws were created long before the advent of the Internet. Therefore, such laws may need to be modernized. Nonetheless, online gambling for the most part is legal, just dependent on the province.

Are there any legal grey areas to discuss?

The grey area that is considered a concern pertains to the use of offshore sites. As mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador is believed to be the only province that prohibits it. Even online casinos with no licensing by Canadian or provincial authorities accept residents of the country.

On the players’ end, many Canadians are allowed to play at online casinos. However, they may be restricted from certain platforms. This is to ensure that the players themselves are protected from unknowingly playing on platforms that may be illegal. 

What are the other laws and regulations about online gambling in Canada?

Online casinos have implemented measures for responsible gambling. This includes providing support and resources to problem gamblers on their site. They are also restricted regarding the marketing and advertising aspects of promoting their platform. 

One restriction of note is that marketing that is targeted at minors is prohibited. Another prohibits professional athletes from appearing in online casino ads in Ontario.

Even offshore casinos must adhere to these laws and regulations. Especially if they have obtained a license from the provincial bodies that allow them to operate.

Canada’s online gambling is legal – but will things change

As it stands right now, the legality of online gambling in Canada seems to fall under the purview of provincial laws and regulations. Canadian citizens must perform their due diligence further to see which online casinos are allowed by their respective provinces. Just because it may be legal in one province, it may not be the same in others.

Nonetheless, the question is: will any laws relax certain restrictions? Will Newfoundland and Labrador change their tune regarding offshore casinos? It’s unclear what the future holds – but watch this space for any changes about online gambling in Canada.  

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Obituaries

Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN

Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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