World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

February strike

The statue De Dokwerker in Amsterdam remembering the February strike

The 1941 February Strike, also known as 'The Strike of February 1941', was a World War II in the Netherlands against the anti-Jewish measures and activities of the Nazis. Its direct causes were the pogroms held by the Germans in the Jewish neighbourhood of Amsterdam. The strike started on 25 February and was largely struck down the next day. It was the first direct action undertaken against the anti-Jewish measures of the Nazis in occupied Europe, and it was carried out by non-Jews.


  • Background 1
  • Cause 2
  • The strike 3
  • Historiography 4
  • Remembrance 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8


The Netherlands surrendered to Nazi Germany in May 1940, and the first anti-Jewish measures (the barring of Jews from the air-raid defence services) began in June 1940. These culminated in November 1940 in the removal of all Jews from public positions, including universities, which led directly to student protests in Leiden and elsewhere. At the same time, there was an increasing feeling of unrest amongst workers in Amsterdam, especially the workers at the shipyards in Amsterdam-Noord, who were threatened with forced labour in Germany.


As tensions rose, the Dutch pro-Nazi movement NSB and its streetfighting arm, the WA ("Weerbaarheidsafdeling" - defence section), were involved in a series of provocations in Jewish neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. This eventually led to a series of street battles between the WA and Jewish self-defence groups and their supporters, culminating in a pitched battle on 11 February 1941 on the Waterlooplein in which WA member Hendrik Koot was badly wounded. He died of his injuries on 14 February 1941.

On 12 February 1941, German soldiers, assisted by Dutch police, encircled the old Jewish neighbourhood and cordoned it off from the rest of the city by putting up barbed wire, opening bridges and putting in police checkpoints. This neighbourhood was now forbidden for non-Jews.

On 19 February, the German Grüne Polizei stormed into the Koco ice-cream salon in the Van Woustraat. In the fight that ensued, several police officers were wounded. Revenge for this and other fights came in the weekend of 22–23 February, when a large scale pogrom was undertaken by the Germans. 425 Jewish men, age 20-35 were taken hostage and imprisoned in Kamp Schoorl and eventually sent to the Buchenwald and Mauthausen concentration camps, where most of them died within the year. Out of 425, only two survived.

The strike

Following this pogrom, on 24 February, an open air meeting was held on the Communist Party of the Netherlands, made illegal by the Germans, printed and spread a call to strike throughout the city the next morning. The first to strike were the city's tram drivers, followed by other city services as well as companies like De Bijenkorf and schools. Though the Germans immediately took measures to suppress the strike, which had grown spontaneously as other workers followed the example of the tram drivers, it still spread to other areas, including Zaanstad, Kennemerland in the west, Bussum, Hilversum and Utrecht in the east and the south.[1] The strike did not last long. By 27 February, much of it had been suppressed by the German police. Although ultimately unsuccessful, it was significant in that it was the first direct action against the Nazis' treatment of Jews in Europe.

The next strike would be student strikes in November 1941, and after that the large April–May strikes in 1943 that ushered in a period of armed covert resistance on a national scale.

In the rest of Nazi-occupied Europe the Greeks in April of 1942,[2] the Danes starting in the summer of 1943, the Luxemburgers in August of 1942, the Belgians in May of 1941, the Norwegians in September of 1941 and the North French miners in May-June of 1941 also went on strike, but not as early as the Dutch strike of February 1941.


The book De februaristaking ("The February strike") by historian Ben Sijes was published in 1954.


The strike is remembered each year on 25 February, with a march past the Dokwerker, the memorial made for the strike in 1951 and first revealed in December 1952. This statue was made by Dutch sculptor Cold War the communists were forced to remember the strike separately from other political groups. For many years after the war, Dutch officials publicly denied contributions by the communists to the strike.


  • Jong, Dr. L. de (1985) [1966]. De Bezetting (in Dutch) (3rd ed. ed.).  
  • Sijes, Dr. B. A. (1978) [1954]. De Februaristaking (in Dutch). ©  
  • Presser, Dr. J. (December 1965) [1965]. Ondergang (6th ed. ed.).  

See also


  1. ^ Dr L. de Jong, Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog, RIOD, part 4, first half, Amsterdam, 1971 (Dutch)
  2. ^ Mazower (2001), p.112
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.