Kuper’s Book Regarding His Research on the Ajax Involvement in WII and the Upheaval of Stumbling Stones

Karin Richert, Demnig’s Stumbling Stone, 2017,  Stolpersteine (Günter Demnig), http://www.stolpersteine.eu/en/gallery, Accessed 24 July 2019.

My gut reaction of Kuper is great. I like the way he writes. I find it very engaging. I love the way he writes using 1st person and either engages with the viewer or draws back on the time he was writing this. I especially enjoyed this exert from chapter six. This is towards the beginning of the chapter when Kuper begins his explanation of who was in and what the Sparta Rotterdam Dutch sports club was. He writes, “Almost every Dutch football fan has a weakness in Sparta, founded in 1888, and only just recently regulated from the Dutch premier division. People often call Sparta a ‘English’ club, meaning that it is very old, was once posh and has discarded its traditional shirts with the red and white  stripes” (67).  After this, he begins to write about what was going on with the premier division during the time he wrote this. Following this, he draws back on his childhood and what his dream was throughout his life as a young man playing football. This series of writing about the history of one topic in three different ways all on a little over just one page is a perfect example of what I really enjoy about Kuper’s  writing. 

It seems as though through Kuper and many other writers who have tried to find more information and history regarding the Ajax and/or the Dutch involvement in WWII and Holocaust have been denied. This topic is denied and ignored again and again. Kuper mentitions this when he states, “But nobody from the Ajax wanted to say anything at all about the war. One of the club directors barred me from seeing the club’s archive on the grounds that there was ‘nothing interesting in it for you’ Everyone trying to write about Ajax inn the war receives the same treatment” (103). Another exert from Kuper that clearly reveals that the Dutch ignored or pretended that they had no involvement in the war is “As ninety-three year old former club chairman Jan Melchers told Het Parool: ‘Regarding th war, the view at Ajax was always: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil..Hide it away, don’t talk about it’”(115).

Hansen-Glucklich, Weiner, & Beasley would not be happy and might not be surprised that Kuper has found the Dutch to deny their involvement in WWII and the Holocaust. Kuper’s findings would just be more reasoning behind Hansen-Glucklich, Weiner, & Beasley’s argument that the way in which counties commemorate their mistreatment of others as if they were animals or lesser should be handled differently. Whether this means altering an exhibition to have it be more interesting and memorable or editing textbooks so that it no longer seems as no is to blame, more recognition is crucial and would lead to less oppression for today and the future.

In my opinion, Günter Demnig is doing right by the Jews that suffered in WWII and the Holocaust. I understand that it can cause some distress or upheaval when certain people see it and walk by it but it happened. We cannot ignore that WWII and the Holocaust occurred. All of those who were put in concentrations camps and were treated unfairly should be recognized. He has set more than 50,000 cobblestones into sidewalks in front of buildings from which Jews were deported in 18 European countries. No one should be able to destroy or resurface these stones. 

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3 thoughts on “Kuper’s Book Regarding His Research on the Ajax Involvement in WII and the Upheaval of Stumbling Stones

  1. Hi Claire! Great work – I too (like Aidan and yourself) am curious about the hush hush attitude the Dutch have about their involvement during the war. To me it seems odd that journalist would have a hard time finding information. I’m wondering if this is a cultural thing, where as a group they do not like to discuss what happened during World War II because it’s considered impolite or disrespectful? I do not know the answer to this — but your post makes me question Dutch communication style compared to ours. Additionally, I am wondering if this “hide it away” attitude has to do with Dutch people disassociating with what happened during the war because they were occupied by Germany. Everything we have read suggests that the Dutch have a strong sense of national identity and pride, perhaps they see the German occupation during WWII as something that happened “to them” rather than something representative of Dutch society? On the other hand, in a city that houses the Anne Frank House and that had such an enormous Jewish population during WWII — it seems hard to believe that the history and memory of the Holocaust does not resonate in everyday life.

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  2. Hi Claire! I definitely agree that Kuper’s style was engaging—it was easy to read and kept me interested. Regarding the stumbling stones, I think you phrased it perfectly that these people and these stories cannot be forgotten or ignored, and the stumbling stones are a great way to literally force people not to forget them, regardless of whether or not it’s upsetting.

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  3. Hi,

    It is concerning to see people ignore the subject of WWII and the Holocaust and go to great lengths to limit information to journalists. I’ve encountered two types of people who do this: those who think the topic is too grizzly to discuss and don’t want to hurt their sensibilities and those who are embarrassed by the event. When the Russians began shelling Berlin in May of 1945 German parents and wives began burning their sons/husbands uniforms and pictures. Anything that connected them to Nazism and the Third Reich was destroyed. When I read about this a few weeks ago I was not surprised but thought about how painful that must have been for a widow or a mother who had lost her son in combat and now was forced to destroy all that they had left of them. This speaks to the great lengths that people go to to bury shame. The Dutch were not part of the Axis officially, but they offered very little resistance and Nazi leadership believed they could be easily assimilated into the Third Reich. This is embarrassing and the result is a mild taboo about the war itself.

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