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Documents on History of U.S. Jews Saved in Holland from Nazis

Archives of great historical value, connected with the life of the earliest Jews who came to Nieuw Amsterdam in 1654, were saved from Nazi destruction during the war by the directors of the Amsterdam Municipal Archives in Holland, it became known here today.

The part played by Amsterdam’s wartime municipal authorities came to light in a report to the American Jewish Archives of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, here. The report was made by Dr. I.S. Emmanuel, a scholar and former civil servant in Brazil, who is now doing Jewish archival research work in Amsterdam.

Dr. Emmanuel found the originals of two petitions made by the Portuguese Jewish Community in Amsterdam, in 1656 and 1657, in which the Jews of that city asked the local government to intercede on behalf of the handful of Jews in the Dutch colony of Nieuw Amsterdam, now New York. The Nieuw Amsterdam Jews had been denied civil and economic rights by Governor General Peter Stuyvesant, and their brethren in old Amsterdam asked that such rights be granted to the settlers in the new world.

These documents had been in possession of the Portuguese Jewish Community in Amsterdam for many years. When the Nazis overran The Netherlands, during World War II, it was feared that the Germans would destroy the Jewish memorabilia. The documents were then turned over to the Municiapl Archives, where the directors hid them, saving them for posterity.

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