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The Ambiguity of Virtue: Gertrude van Tijn and the Fate of the Dutch Jews

Start: Jun 19, 2014 06:00 PM

Bernard Wasserstein, Ulrich and Harriet Meyer Professor of Modern European Jewish History, University of Chicago

Thursday June 19th 


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Gertrude van Tijn was a German-born social worker who served from 1933 to 1941 as secretary of the Amsterdam Jewish Refugees Committee. From 1941 to 1943 she headed the emigration department of the Nazi-appointed Jewish Council in Amsterdam. In May 1941, with Nazi approval, she flew from Amsterdam to Lisbon in an attempt to negotiate the departure from occupied Europe of large numbers of German and Dutch Jews. She then courageously returned to Holland where she continued her work until her arrest, with other leaders of the Jewish Council, in September 1943.

'The Ambiguity of Virtue' tells the story of Van Tijn's efforts to organize Jewish emigration from Nazi territory. She played a central role in this enterprise. Bernard Wasserstein discusses the methods she deployed to enable thousands of Jews to escape with their lives. In the course of her work, she faced difficult moral choices. Some called her a heroine; others denounced her as a collaborator. Drawing on a wealth of contemporary documentation, including German and Dutch archives as well as Van Tijn's personal papers, the book raises crucial questions about German policy towards the Jews, Jewish reactions to the Nazi menace, and about Dutch, American and British responses to the genocide of the Jews. In so doing it touches on some of the central moral-historical issues of the twentieth century.

Bernard Wasserstein is Professor of Modern European Jewish History at the University of Chicago. He is the author of 'Britain and the Jews of Europe 1939-1945'; 'Herbert Samuel: A Political Biography'; 'The Secret Lives of Trebitsch Lincoln' (which won the Crime Writers Society Golden Dagger Award for Non-Fiction); and most recently 'On the Eve: The Jews of Europe before the Second World War' (awarded the Yad Vashem International Book Prize, 2012). His new book 'The Ambiguity of Virtue: Gertrude van Tijn and the Fate of the Dutch Jews' is published by Harvard University Press.

Drinks reception (kosher wine) from 6.00 pm Haldane Room, Wilkins Building

Lecture 6.45pm Pearson lecture theatre G22, Pearson Building (NE entrance)

Book online now to reserve your place:

Eventbrite - The Ambiguity of Virtue:  Gertrude van Tijn and the Fate of the Dutch Jews

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