'White Jews', not 'good Nazis': How Germany rejected Holland's settler farmers

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New research shows how a group of Dutch farmers that trekked to Ukraine and Lithuania in World War II was spurned as 'white Jews'.

They came in their thousands from Holland to Eastern Europe to be good Nazis and help the Germans colonize more land during World War II. But according to the first major research into the Dutch settler movement, their German brethren despised them, dubbing them "white Jews."

Approximately 5,000 farmers trekked from Holland to the Ukraine and Lithuania from 1942 to 1945. Their unique and little-researched story remained largely unknown even to Holocaust scholars until last month, when it was presented before dozens of Shoah researchers at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.

The experience of these Dutch farmers has made them the only readily identifiable group of foreign witnesses to the pre-Auschwitz mass execution of East European Jewry - and it sheds new light on the nuances of the ethnic hierarchy among Aryans in the Third Reich.

Dr. Geraldine von Frijtag Drabbe Kunzel of Utrecht University in the Netherlands is among a handful of people familiar with the story. Speaking at a Yad Vashem conference for Holocaust scholars last month, she defined the newcomers as "ordinary Dutch" farmer families who largely failed to take root in Ukraine despite the strong Nazi ideology that brought them there.

The conference brought together 35 scholars from 13 countries, who discussed little-explored topics such as collaborators in Greece and Yugoslav partisans' approach to Jewish parachutists from the Yishuv in 1943-1945.

The Dutch settlers were volunteers sent by the NOC, a state body set up by the Dutch NSB party, which took power after the German invasion and occupation of the Netherlands in 1940....

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