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February 25: A General Strike Against the Nazis

February 24, 2013

Workers in the Netherlands began a general strike on this date in 1941 to protest the anti-Jewish policies of their Nazi overlords. The strike followed a pogrom in which the Germans seized 425 young Jewish men and sent them to concentration camps; only two would survive the war. The illegal Communist Party of the Netherlands spread a call to strike throughout the city, which was heeded by tram drivers, teachers and school workers, factory workers, and many others. The strike spread east and south over three days before it was suppressed by the German police with killings and arrests. This marked the first direct action against the Nazis' treatment of Jews by non-Jews in Europe; student strikes would follow in November 1941, and other labor actions inaugurated a period of armed covert resistance throughout the Netherlands in the spring of 1943. The February Strike is remembered each year on this date with a march past "The Dockworker," a memorial statue unveiled in 1952. To read historical remembrances of the event, click here.

"The Germans were beside themselves with anger. Later on, our boss had to report anyone who had gone on strike. He asked us, 'Nobody here was on strike, right?' He didn't report anyone."—Semmy Woortman, leather worker