Anne Frank and After: Dutch Holocaust Literature in Historical Perspective

By Dick Van Galen Last; Rolf Wolfswinkel | Go to book overview

Notes

Notes to Chapter I
1
To be precise, before 1579 there were 17 very small Low Countries, with Holland and Flanders as the two most important ones. In that year seven Northern Provinces decided to go their own way in their fight for independence against Spain, while a number of Southern provinces made their peace with the Spanish king. From 1648 onwards this situation was confirmed in the Peace Treaty of Westfalia. The North continued under the name Republic of the Seven United Provinces, most commonly called Holland after its most powerful component, the South continued under foreign rulers -- Spain, Austria, France -- until, after Napoleon, the two parties of before 1579 were united again. This reunion only lasted 15 years: in 1830 the South stood up against the North and seceded under the name Kingdom of Belgium. To avoid further confusion we will in general use the name 'Holland', being the most familiar, instead of The Netherlands.
2
It has often been assumed that there is a direct link between antisemitism and Jewish prowess in trade. Since trade enjoyed considerable respectability in Holland, unlike in Germany and Eastern Europe, the absence of this motiva­ tion for virulent antisemitism might go some way to explain the relative freedom of Jews in Holland. Another explanation for the Dutch tradition of tolerance might be found in its strong decentralist tradition with its prepa­ redness to accept different religious and political convictions. In this respect the Dutch Republic had much in common with the USA, like Holland sprung from a revolt against suppression. The Dutch model of a pluralist nation influenced the Founding Fathers of the USA. There are interesting similarities between the theoretical foundations of the American Constitution and the Dutch "'Acte van Verlatinghe'" ( 1581), the theoretical justification to rise against the King of Spain. However, the Americans learnt from the weaknesses of the Dutch federal system and opted for a strong executive power.
3
Since the end of the Middle Ages, almost all professions had themselves organized in 'guilds', professional organisations that regulated training, production methods and competition. Only guild members could practise a trade; moonlighting was strictly prohibited. Since membership was reserved to those who had passed the master test, it was easy to exclude certain categories from membership. The guilds ceased to exist in 1795.

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