The Netherlands

During the Nazi occupation of the country, 120,000 out of 150,000 Dutch Jews were sent to extermination camps and murdered. The  30,000 who survived the Holocaust included 5,000 children who spent the war in hiding.

The Dutch ORT was created in the beginning of 1946. In May 1946 it began its activities in the Netherlands by starting a small cutting and dressmaking course in a Jewish community school in Amsterdam. The majority of the first students were DPs and students without nationality. The group included many women who had lost their husbands during the deportation. The courses progressed rapidly and the number of students grew from 220 in the end of 1946 to 765 a year later. After Amsterdam, the next training centre was established at the Hague and later ones in Rotterdam and Enschede. As in all the other countries Dutch ORT encountered very serious difficulties when setting up the courses. ‘Holland completely lacks some everyday commodities, not only are machines and tools not obtainable, also buttons, needles, shoe-laces etc. must be imported’ - reported ORT in 1947.[1]

An important part of Dutch ORT's work among Holocaust survivors was children’s training.  Workshops for children aged 9 to 14 were set up in Amsterdam, Apeldoorn, Bussum, The Hague, Haarlem, Hilversum and Eindhoven. These courses comprised of pre-vocational training in woodwork, cardboard work, leather work and dressmaking. Additionally, courses were organized in a number of children’s homes including the Boarding School for War Orphans  ‘Rudelsheim Stichting’ at Hilversum, Aliyah Home ‘Birnbaum’ at Bussum, Agudah Home, Boarding School for Young Jews and the Jewish School in Amsterdam. In 'Pedagogium Achisomog' at Apeldoorn, ORT worked with children with learning difficulties. ORT also operated ‘Ilaniah’- a children’s village set up for 500 Romanian children and youths who were admitted to Holland to prepare for their Aliyah. In most of these institutions ORT's vocational training was incorporated into the curriculum, allowing the children to attend the courses during the school hours.

Archive photo of ORT Students
WOA: p06a056 Students at work at the ORT’s menswear cutting course in Amsterdam, Netherlands, c.1948

[1] World ORT Archive d05a014: Report on the ORT Activities August 1946-July 1947. Submitted to the meeting of the Central Board of the World ORT Union Paris, July 6th- 7th 1947 p.40