The story of the Zionist resistance movement in Holland

The story of the Zionist resistance movement in the Netherlands starts in the summer of 1942 when on 15 July 1942 the Nazis put the final phase of the destruction of Dutch Judaism into effect.

The Jews are concentrated in the transit camp Westerbork and from there they are transported eastward to the extermination camps in Poland.

At the same time, 49 boys and girls stay in an institution of the Youth Aliya in Loosdrecht in the Netherlands.

This institution in Loosdrecht was founded with the aim of helping youth from Germany escape after the events of Kristalnacht in Germany in November 1938 and preparing them for their Aliya in Loosdrecht.

In early August 1942, the leaders of this organization became aware that the Germans had decided to close the institute in Loosdrecht.

Miriam Waterman and Menachem Pinkhof, leaders of this institute, get in touch with Joop Westerweel, a Christian anarchist, director of a school in Rotterdam, known for his resistance to violence in general, but especially against the German occupation. They ask for his help saving the young people.

Joop, despite being a father of three children and the fourth ‘on the way’, was married to Wil. He immediately devoted himself finding hiding places for the Loosdrecht children. He involves his friends and some of the staff of his school, but also other Dutch-Christian families.

Within six days, between 10 August and 16 July, the residents of Loosdrecht went into hiding.

About 20 Christian members worked together with Joop, as many as the Jewish members, most of whom were members of the Hechalutz organization. This starts the activity of the Zionist underground organization in the Netherlands.

The resistance, led by Joop and inspired by him, has as principle nonviolence and pacifism, and the members who help to save Jews have the principle of not wearing a weapon nor using it.

More than three years, until the definite liberation of the Netherlands on 9 May 1945, the organization was active in the underground resistance and during that period helped dozens of Jews go into hiding at Christian families thus preventing from being transported to Westerbork, they took care of food vouchers and part of the people who were in hiding, could via various ways such as Belgium, France and the Pyrenees, reach Spain.

Many members were caught by the Nazis and some were executed, unfortunately Joop Westerweel as well. He was executed on 11 August 1944.

.    With the decision to award the title of "Righteous among the Nations" the Dutch Christian members of the Zionist pioneering underground group are among the first to receive this title and have planned a tree on the Boulevard of the Righteous.