This evening for me will be focussed on Dutch socialist workers history. I will film at a gathering of the progressive broadcast corporation VARA which will held a meeting in Arnhem based on the workers history of this broadcast corporation. It was connected to the Social democratic SDAP party (later PvdA) and the socialist Union NVV.
I am curious what the historian will say. This is national television goes local.
Pray for me, I will be in the company of the old hard core of socialists, social democratic militants and the red danger!
The Omroepvereniging VARA (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɔmrupfəˌreːnəɣɪŋ ˈvaːraː]), the VARA Broadcasting Association, is a Dutch public broadcasting association that operates within the framework of the Netherlands Public Broadcasting system (Dutch: Nederlandse Publieke Omroep). The association was founded in 1925 as the Vereeniging van Arbeiders Radio Amateurs (Association of Worker Radio Amateurs). The name was changed to Omroepvereniging VARA in 1957 and is no longer an acronym. VARA originally focused on labour and socialism. In the era of Dutch pillarization the association had close links to the Social Democratic Workers Party and its successor, the Labour Party. For many years VARA's chairmen, such as Marcel van Dam and Andre Kloos, were prominent members of the party. Although the connection between the two organizations loosened, affinities remain—such as a large overlap between their respective support bases.
The face of my father turned red when he heard the sound of the VARA's Red Rooster. It was the sound of the socialist broadcast cooperation VARA, connected to his feared and loathed Dutch Labour Party. (PvdA)
I am back at my radio-tv station. I was a fun evening with old socialists (social-democrats), a few Trotskists and an anarchistic professor. The Anarchist professor knew a Trotskist marxist chap I knew from my Amsterdam student time. This guy was a member of the radical leftwing fringe movement 'Marxists within the Labour Party'.
I had a lot of discussions, debates and exchanges of thought with this guy. He was a Lenin lookalike and real Trotskist communist. I learnt something from this guy about Communism (Marxism-Leninism), socialism and Social-democracy. I wondered if I was monitored by the Dutch secret service BVD, because I had contacts with these radical left chaps.
I was simply hungry after all sort of ideologies, and the diversity and pluriform spectrum of a democratic society, the democratic society I lived in as a young man and student history teacher. This Trotskist Lenin lookalike teached me a lot about the method of socioeconomic analysis that analyzes class relations and societal conflict, which is Marxism; about 'Historical materialism'; the understanding human history in terms of systemic processes, based on modes of production (broadly speaking, the ways in which societies are organized to employ their technological powers to interact with their material surroundings); and 'Dialectical materialism'; the concept of the evolution of the natural world and the emergence of new qualities of being at new stages of evolution. A method for the empirical study of social processes in terms of interrelations, development, and transformation.
And I learned a lot about the history of the workers movement in the Netherlands and Europe, the workers Unions, the social-democratic and the communist workers parties, and the conflict and antithesis between these two leftwing movements, about the differences between Trotskist communism and stalinist communism, two streams of Russian communism with a world wide following.
And I learned about Marxism–Leninism; the idea of a vanguard party, one-party rule, state-dominance over the economy, internationalism, opposition to bourgeoisie democracy, and opposition to capitalism. The development of a state into a socialist republic through the leadership of a revolutionary vanguard, the part of the working class who come to class consciousness as a result of the dialectic of class struggle. The socialist state, representing a "dictatorship of the proletariat" (as opposed to that of the bourgeoisie) is governed by the party of the revolutionary vanguard through the process of democratic centralism, which Vladimir Lenin described as "diversity in discussion, unity in action." It seeks the development of socialism into the full realisation of communism, a classless social system with common ownership of the means of production and with full social equality of all members of society.
I learned about Democratic centralism ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_centralism ), and the idea or concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat; a state in which the proletariat, or the working class, has control of political power. I learned about the a planned socialist economy and universal education with a focus on developing the proletariat with knowledge, class consciousness, and understanding the historical development of communism. He told me about Karl Marx theoretical books The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867–1894).
This Trotskist considered me to be a petit bourgeois, left liberal, progressive democrat, something like an American Democrat, or the rightwing of the British Labour Party and the German SPD and the Dutch PvdA. I disagreed with a lot of things he believed in, but it was interesting to be tought in Marxism, communism and the history of socialism via that contact.
Amsterdam was and is a quite libertarian city with some anarchistic characteristics. There were a lot of left and radical left movements back then. Dutch Social-democrats (opponents of communism and leftwing socialism and the radical left in general), leftwing socialists, pacifist socialists ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacifist_Socialist_Party ), Radicals ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_Party_of_Radicals ), anarchists ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomism ), Feminism, the Trotskists SAP (Socialist Workers Party), Lefting socialist christians, the ecological Green Party, the secular atheist Humanists (Humanistisch Verbond) and leftwing student organisations.
I didn't like the dogmatism, orthodoxy, doctrinary way of thinking and the lack of freedom and respect in some of these far left and leftwing movements, There was a lot of competition, animosity and dominant people in these circles. I had a lot of free thinking people who weren't connected to these leftist movements like many students and young people were. My friends were bussy with their personal development, spiritual matters, sport, art, music, literature, cinema, traveling, Yoga, Buddhism, New Age stuf, their daily lives, the subjects of their study than with communism, socialism or anarchism. Some were interested in politics, others weren't. Some were rightwing or center right. My family was more center right and traditional Dutch in their orientation. I learned something back then about communism, socialism and social-democracy. Social-democracy was and is an influential ideology and movement in the Dutch political landscape. Today they have become small like the Polish SLD. If there were national elections today the Dutch Labour Party would gain few votes. the leftwing rival the Socialist Party would gain a lot of votes today.
It was a fun evening with those VARA and Arnhem Open Air Museum (Nederlands Openlucht Museum) people.
This is the TV report I made about it. It is an interesting part of Dutch broacasting and workers organisation and stike history. It is the past, and will not return in this form in the present or future.
What was interesting that there was a strong social-democratic, anarchistic and communist movement amongs the workers of the North in the Netherlands in the early 20th century. Class differences were huge, between rich lord farmers and poor agricultural workers who worked for these lord farmers there. The lecture of yesterday was focussed on a violent workers riot in Groningen in 1929. The Dutch police used guns, riffles and wooden battons to beat the workers.
There were also tensions between Protestant christian or Roman-Catholic workers on one side and social-democratic or communist workers on the other side. Often the priests cooperated with the employers and authorities against the socialist (social-democratic) workers. Often these socialist workers were former Roman-Catholic workers who became socialist due to bad working conditions, exploitation and deteriorating life conditions, poverty and suffering in general due to the difficult life conditions.
Her you see the Dutch army and armed Amsterdam police in action against a socialist Amsterdam workers riot/revolt during the thirties:
Your detailed description of the array of ideologies swirling around you during your student years is interesting. It reminded me of my own college years which, while probably "tamer" than your experiences, contained some of those same elements.
I had led a sheltered life (ideologically speaking) until I arrived at college. That time in the history of the US was very turbulent, being at the height of the Viet Nam War and the accompanying student protests, etc. I do remember that a few of my professors were communists, particularly my Western Civilization professor. I remember coming to question everything that I had been raised to believe during that time and it was extremely painful, while still being a time of incredible personal growth.
The TV report you made looks interesting and well done, but sadly, I don't understand a word of it!
Thanks for posting it, though, and allowing us to see your work!
I tried to translate this Dutch language video into English.
It is a video about a 10 episodes series about the history of the Dutch worker. The actor plays a role about the agricultural workers strike in East-Groningen in 1929. This strike was very grim and violent. Not for East-Groningen by the way, and area which was full of large conflicts. Direct after this strike, the last one of a series of strikes, you could say that a lot of free thinkers, especially anarchists, started to follow the Red flag en mass, and became member of the Dutch Communist Party, the CPN. Who in a fast tempo, in a certain amount of muncipalities reached a majority position. (In the Netherlands in the North, in some parts of Friesland and Groningen, were poor agricultural workers lived an worked, there were traditional Communist area's for decades.)
In the last interview I ask the professor history of the university of Leiden, Dennis Bos (Anarchist and former Trotskist), this question: What is the core and the purpose of this series? He answers: Whel what we have tried in ten episodes of this serie, to tell something about how Dutch workers, how they tried to improve their lives since the late 19th century. And we do that with the use of a few themes, and we show how their lives have changed due to the activism and work of these workers themselves. So we try to give the history back to the people who made that history. (So this program is for the Socialist workers of the Netherlands). I ask then: How much episodes does this serie has? I repeat what he already said: He answers: It's ten episodes, it's around a theme every episode, so we started with the factory, the labour circumstances, we talked about strikes, this week the new episode is about the Revolution; as a central theme; and so we follow a lot of themes; The Second World War (in which social-democratic and communist workers were very active in the resistance), the history of the broadcasting corporation VARA (Association of Worker Radio Amateurs), but also the history of the workers women; the history of the to elevation of the working class; and we end the series with the new workers, how is the position of the worker today.
By the wat the VARA (Association of Worker Radio Amateurs) is a social-democratic broadcast corporation historically linked to the pre-war Social-Democratic SDAP and the post-war PvdA (Labour party), the social-democratic union NVV (and later the general Union FNV), the socialist newspaper Het Vrije Volk (the Free People) and other socialist newspapers and magazines. The VARA was a social-democratic instrument was both an enemy of the Dutch communist CPN, as it was an enemy of the center-left and center right political parties of that time, the Roman-Catholic KVP (Catholic Peoples Party), the large Calvinist Anti-Revolutionairy Party (Anti-revolutionairy because these calvinists were against the ideals of the French revolution), the CHU (moderate Christian Historian Union) and especially agains the conservative-liberal VVD party (the Dutch Republicans you could say). Social-democratic (PvdA) governments even workerd with the CIA (and the Dutch secret service of that time, the BVD) against communist activists and party members.
The Voice of the People (De Stem des Volks) was founded in 1898 by the Jewish diamond cutter Abraham de Levita. Otto Nobel was the first conductor of the choir and composed the first songs, including the "Psalm of the labor movement" which became Red Dawn (Morgenrood), on a text by Dirk Troelstra, a brother of Pieter Jelles (a famous Dutch socialist). When the Jewish members of the Voice of the People by the Dutch Theater were transported by the nazis to concentration camp Westerbork, they sang:
"Red Dawn, Your holy glow, has always brought us day. Break it by o innovator of light in the great peoples night. Let your glow give us hope to those struggling in the night. Give courage in the strive forward until daylight smiles to them.
Red dawn, in the times of struggle they have longed for you. And in the night, sad and dark, they have expected your work of salvation. Pink is coloring the clouds, morning wind is blowing. Perhaps the amazing sunlight has risen for all people."
Text (Dutch): Morgenrood, uw heilig gloeien Heeft ons steeds den dag gebracht. Breek toch door, o lichtvernieuwer, In den groten volk'rennacht. Laat uw gloren hope geven Hun die worst'len in den nacht. Geef hun moed in 't voorwaarts streven Tot hun 't daglicht tegenlacht Tot hun 't daglicht tegenlacht Morgenrood, in worst'lend zwoegen Hebben zij naar u gesmacht. En in de nachten, treurig duister, Uw verlossend werk verwacht. Roze gloed kleurt reeds de wolken D'ochtendwind ruist door de blaân Weldra is voor alle volken 't Schitterend zonlicht opgegaan 't Schitterend zonlicht opgegaan.
Jaap (pronounced "yahp") Penraat (April 11, 1918 – June 25, 2006) was a Dutch resistance fighter during the Second World War.
Penraat was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands. As a child, he helped Jewish neighbors by switching lights for them on Shabbat, which they were forbidden to do. When the Nazis occupied The Netherlands and began acting against the Jews, Penraat was an interior designer, architect and sculptor of tiles and statues. He started his resistance activities by forging identity papers for Jews, but was discovered and jailed for several months. Later he made over 20 trips smuggling a total of 406 Jewish people to safety from The Netherlands to Spain via France by using his forgery skills to convince the Nazis they were slave laborers for the Atlantic Wall, on France's Atlantic coast. He lost only one man, who was hit by a train. Penraat was tortured by the Nazis but revealed nothing about his operations. After his release, he continued his activities until 1944, when it became too risky to continue, and he spent the rest of the war hiding in a village, living on sugar beets.
After the war, Penraat became a noted designer in Amsterdam, until in 1958 he moved to the United States. In 1964, he designed the Dutch mill cafe, for the New York World's Fair.
He remained silent about his wartime activities until his daughters convinced him that his grandchildren should know about them. He went on to describe his experiences to school groups. In subsequent interviews, he insisted he had only "done the decent thing". Yad Vashem, the official Israeli memorial to victims of the Holocaust, awarded him the designation of Righteous Among the Nations and put him on its honor roll on June 11, 1988.
A longtime friend of Penraat's, Hudson Talbott, authored a children's book about Penraat's activities, entitled Forging Freedom: A True Story of Heroism During the Holocaust. Talbott said in an interview that Penraat "just loved the idea of putting one over on the Nazis".
Penraat died at his home in Catskill, New York at the age of 88, three years following the death of his wife, Jettie. He is survived by his three daughters, Marjolijn, Mir, and Noelle.
The Dutch resistance
The Dutch resistance to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War II can be mainly characterized by its prominent non-violence, peaking at over 300,000 people in hiding in the autumn of 1944, tended to by some 60,000 to 200,000 illegal landlords and caretakers and tolerated knowingly by some one million people, including German occupiers and military.
Dutch resistance developed relatively slowly, but the event of the February strike and its cause, the random police harassment and deportation of over 400 Jews, greatly stimulated resistance. The first to organize themselves were the Dutch communists, who set up a cell-system immediately. Some other very amateurish groups also emerged, notably De Geuzen, set-up by Bernard IJzerdraat and also some military-styled groups started, such as the Ordedienst ('order service'). Most had great trouble surviving betrayal in the first two years of the war.
Dutch counterintelligence, domestic sabotage, and communications networks eventually provided key support to Allied forces, beginning in 1944 and continuing until the Netherlands was fully liberated. Some 75% (105,000 out of 140,000) of the Jewish population perished in the Holocaust, most of them murdered in Nazi death camps (Treblinka, Sobibor, Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen, Buchenwald, Theresienstadt, Maydanek and etc.). Dutch jews had a harder time to survive than the Polish jews, because they didn't spoke German nor Polish (on of the main languages in the camps, because the majority of the population of the camps were Polish jews and Polish Roman-Catholics), nor spoke many of them Yiddish or Hungarian (Yiddish was the language of the Central- and Eastern-European jews), and they weren't used to the climate there. (The Polish landclimate with hot summers and very cold winters, where in the Netherlands you have and had a mild sea climate). In general Polish jews had a a greater chance for survival due to their number and because there was Polish resistance in the camps. Ofcourse in general most jews had very little chance to survive, no matter what their nationality was. But fact is that there were and are more Polish jews in the world than Duch jews. A number of Dutch resistance groups specialized in saving Jewish children, including the Utrechtse Kindercomité, the Landelijke Organisatie voor Hulp aan Onderduikers, the Naamloze Vennootschap (NV), and the Amsterdam Student Group. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust estimates that 215-500 Dutch Romanis were killed by the Nazis, with the higher figure estimated as almost the entire pre-war population of Dutch Romanis.
This image of a little girl in a Dutch train to Auschwitz concentration camp is one of the icons of the Holocaust. For a long time she was portrayed and seen as a little jewish girl, but she is the Dutch Sinti Gypsy girl Settela Steinbach
The Dutch family of the famous gypsy girl from the train. Her father died of sadness after the war due to the loss of his daugther.
Gypsy cerempny for the Sinti- and Roma that were murdered during the Holocaust
They say that the fate of the Sinti- and Roma was never mentioned at the official Holocaust remembrance ceremonies; in which the Jews and political prisoners (resistance) fighters are remembered. The fact that Sinti- and Roma and Gays and Lesbians were also victims of the Holocaust is to often ignored. Gays- and Lesbians ofcourse weren't recognized after the war. There persecution continued in Democratic Netherlands (by law and legislation. They were considered psychiatric patients), because their very existence was illegal until maybe the sixties or seventies.
On 25 February 1941, the Communist Party of the Netherlands called for a general strike, the 'February strike', in response to the first Nazi raid on Amsterdam's Jewish population. The old Jewish quarter in Amsterdam had been cordoned off into a ghetto and as retaliation for a number of violent incidents that followed, 425 Jewish men were taken hostage by the Germans and eventually deported to extermination camps, just two surviving. Many citizens of Amsterdam, regardless of their political affiliation, joined in a mass protest against the deportation of Jewish Dutch citizens. The next day, factories in the towns Zaandam, Haarlem, IJmuiden, Weesp, Bussum, Hilversum and Utrecht joined in. The strike was largely put down within a day with German troops firing on unarmed crowds, killing nine people and wounding 24, as well as taking many prisoners. It was significant because opposition to the German occupation intensified as a result. The only other general strike in Nazi-occupied Europe was the general strike in occupied Luxembourg in 1942. The Dutch struck four more times against the Germans: the students' strike in November 1940, the doctors' strike in 1942, the April–May strike in 1943 and the railway strike in 1944. No other country showed such overt unarmed refusal to cooperate with the occupiers. (Comment Pieter: "I don't agree with Wikipedia in this last sentence. I think that the activities of the Polish Underground State were larger and more important. The forbidden mass underground primary school, highschool and even university academical level education by underground resistance education structures were amazing. And the Poles hided also a large amount of jews, political dissidents and other opponents of the Nazi regime. The conditions in Poland also were harsher in my opinion, because the Poles were slavic people, and the Dutch were seen as Germanic Aryan people by the Germans. Nazi reprisals against a Polish strike like in the Netherlands would have been much more harsh, with maybe hundreds or thousands of dead and many more hundreds or thousands of Poles which would have been put in concentration camps.")
The February strike
The February strike was also unusual for the Dutch resistance, which was more covert. Resistance in the Netherlands initially took the form of small-scale, decentralized cells engaged in independent activities, mostly small-scale sabotage (such as cutting phone lines, distributing anti-German leaflets or tearing down posters). Some small groups had no links with others. They produced forged ration cards and counterfeit money, collected intelligence, published underground papers such as De Waarheid (the truth/Pravda), Trouw (Loyalty), Vrij Nederland (Free Netherlands), and Het Parool; they also sabotaged phone lines and railways, produced maps, and distributed food and goods.
One of the most popular activities was hiding and sheltering refugees and enemies of the Nazi regime, which included concealing Jewish families like that of Anne Frank, underground operatives, draft-age Dutchmen and later in the war Allied aircrew. Collectively these people were known as onderduikers ('people in hiding' or literally: 'under-divers'). Corrie ten Boom and her family were among those who successfully hid several Jews and resistance workers from the Nazis. The total amounted to over 300,000 people up to September 1944, tended-to by some 60,000 to 200,000 landlords and carers.
From 58:30 you see the historical fact that Amsterdam Socialist workers came to the aid of Amsterdam jews in the jewish neighbourhood and fought against the thugs of the paramilitary wing of the Dutch Nazi Movement NSB, the WA (Weerafdeling; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weerbaarheidsafdeling ).
The story is complicated. The blond brother is an active Amsterdam socialist or communist worker resisting the Dutch NSB and Nazi's, the sister has a relationship with a Wehrmacht officer, who isn't a bad chap at all. The Wehrmacht officer is a decent chap, and opposed to Nazism. He visits his old friend, the Jewish Ice shop owner in the Jewish neighbourhood in Amsterdam. Tensions run high inside and around this Jewish ice store, with the provocating mean, anti-semitic aggressive and violent Dutch nazi's in their black WA Nazi uniforms and their opponents the Dutch socialist and communist workers who stand by their Jewish colleages in workers solidarity. This tension and conflict lead to the Februari strike and the arrest and deportation to the concentration camps of Amsterdam jews. This was their end. The Amsterdam jewish working class and middle class ceased to exist. After the war they were a tiny minority, where they were more then 10% of the population in Pre-War Amsterdam. Jews played an important role in the Social-democratic, Communist and the conservative-liberal movements and parties. They were workers and employers. But the majority of them were poor workers. Often with roots in central- and Eastern Europe (Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania).
Dutch Labour leader Diederik Samsom participated in Bilderberg and spoke with demonstrators
I was raised in a conservative-liberal Dutch family by an anti-communist and anti-socialist father. The reds were the enemy outside the Netherlands in the East with the Sovjets and their puppet states (the socialist Peoples Republics), and inside our West-European countries we had the danger of the leftist politicians, journalists, professors, left-wing intellectuals in general, the workers unions, social-democrats, communists and leftwing liberals. It was a very clear position on the right knowing who the enemy was.
Ofcourse reality is more nuanced. Social-democrats were and are Pro-Western democratic socialists and free thinking progressive liberals, who opposed both the totalitarian Sovjet Communism, the Warsaw Pact, Comecon and the communist parties in Western-Europe, and the harshest forms of capitalism, nationalism and conservatism on the right. In a democratic, evolutionary and reformist way, they fought for workers, women's and minorities rights.
P.S.- I am not a member or a voter of any leftwing party right now. I am a neutral and objective journalist, tv cameraman, editor and interviewer. I have to be objective and neutral and interview politicians, activists and members of all political streams. This workers movement and party history interested me from a general interest in the Dutch political history. I also am interested in the Roman-Catholic and Protestants workers movements that were there too. The Catholic church founded it's own Roman-Catholic workers movement to counter the threat of influence of Marixism (Communism) and Socialism (Social-democracy, or reformist democratic socialism) on the Roman-Catholic workers in the Netherlands. Quite a few Roman-Catholic workers became socialist workers in the 19th and 20th century, also because of the cooperation of the Roman-Catholic clergy with the employers and the conservative authorities of that time.