During the Second World War, more Jewish residents of five municipalities in the province of Groningen were killed than previously had been estimated. This is the conclusion of research conducted by Richard Paping, a historian at the University of Groningen. It was previously thought that 15% of the Jewish residents of these municipalities survived the war. However, it now appears that less than 10% survived. The contrast with the national survival rate of 27-29% is therefore much larger than previously estimated.
Under the leadership of Paping, associate professor of Economic and Social History at the University of Groningen, a research study was conducted on the role played by five municipalities in Groningen in the expropriation of Jewish property during and after the Second World War. The study was commissioned by the municipalities of Het Hogeland, Midden-Groningen, Oldambt, Veendam, and Westerkwartier. In the context of this study, the survival rate of Jewish people who lived in these five municipalities in mid-1942 was also closely investigated. Together, these municipalities cover almost two-thirds of the province of Groningen outside the city. The researchers investigated every single Jewish resident of the time to find out whether or not they survived the war.
The incredibly shocking results show that less than 10% (9.7%, 111 out of 1,142) of these Jewish residents survived the war. That means that over 90% of them were killed. Almost all of the often centuries-old Jewish communities in the region of Groningen were completely annihilated. This new estimate of the proportion of Jewish people who were killed is particularly striking for two reasons.
First, this survival rate of less than 10% is far below the current estimate for the national population, which lies at around 27-29%. The proportion of Jewish people who were killed in the Holocaust and who came from Groningen is therefore the highest proportion in the Netherlands. And that while the proportion of Jewish people from the Netherlands as a whole who were killed during the Holocaust is already very high in the European context.
Second, the proportion of Jewish people from the area who survived had previously been estimated at 15% (and the proportion of Jews who were killed at 85%). The results of the new study, however, show that a third fewer Jewish people from the area survived the genocide than previously estimated. This does not necessarily mean that the proportion of Dutch Jews as a whole who were killed has been underestimated, as Paping’s research only focuses on the municipalities in Groningen.
Around one fifth of Jewish survivors appeared to be married to non-Jewish partners. The chances of survival for those aged 20 to 50 appeared to be slightly higher than for other age groups. Yet for every age group, the survival rate still lay below 20%. Children aged between 5 and 19 and adults aged over 55 only had a minimal chance of surviving the genocide organized and carried out by the Nazis. Further research into the dramatically high percentage of Jewish people from the researched area who were killed is therefore needed, according to Paping. Possible causes for the high percentage of Jewish people from Groningen who were killed, as identified by Paping, include the early deportation of Jewish families from the area (as from the start of November 1942), while younger male heads of households had already been deported in July 1942 under the alleged context of joining the ‘labour force’. As a result, the families in the region were effectively held hostage and few went into hiding. Of these men who were deported early on, a third were already killed by the Nazis in October 1942.
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