Out of the Shadows  29 November 2010 until 8 May 2011

Jews in the Netherlands after 1945

© Daniel CohenFrom 29 November the Jewish Historical Museum is presenting a major survey of Jewish life in the Netherlands after the Second World War entitled Out of the Shadows. Despite the devastation of the Holocaust there has been a dynamic and flourishing Jewish life in the Netherlands since 1945. Jews picked up the thread, took new directions and formed a vital and growing Jewish community with ideological, ethnic and religious bonds.
Jews in the Netherlands since 1945 are mainly associated with war, sorrow and loss. The other side of the story - the vitality of this period - has long been overshadowed. After the war many people assumed that Jews would have no future here. Many survivors' ultimate goal was to move elsewhere, including Israel. But in the 1970s the tide slowly began to turn and we have seen the growth of a varied and future-oriented Jewish community in the Netherlands.
This exhibition shows the great diversity of Jewish life in the Netherlands: the return from the war, the emigration, the processing of trauma, the renewal of relations with non-Jews and new directions in Judaism. How did Jews rebuild their lives in the decades immediately after the war? What were the decisive events? And how did the community come to flourish once more?
It provides a richly layered view of personal and public (un)happiness, migration and international influences and differences in representations of the Jewish community, both from within and without. Which issues cause friction? Which are a source of pride, and which are painful? Which issues are matters for public debate and which does the community wish to discuss behind closed doors? The exhibition aims to evoke recognition and surprise among both Dutch and foreign visitors.
Interviews and film clips introduce us to numerous well- and lesser-known figures from different generations and to their personal stories and belongings. Many of the objects have never previously been exhibited publicly.
The accompanying publication includes essays by leading writers about important aspects of Jewish life in the Netherlands from 1945 to 2010. The exhibition's theme is echoed in a post-doctoral position within the NWO's research programme Dynamiek van de herinnering (The Dynamic of Memory).