The 1941 February Strike, also known as 'The Strike of February 1941', was a general strike organized during World War II in the Netherlands against the anti-Jewish measures and activities of the Nazis. Its direct causes were the pogroms held by the Germans in the Jewish neighbourhood of Amsterdam. The strike started on 25 February and was largely struck down the next day. It was the first direct action undertaken against the anti-Jewish measures of the Nazis in occupied Europe, and it was carried out by non-Jews.
The Netherlands surrendered to Germany in May 1940, and the first anti-Jewish measures (the barring of Jews from the air-raid defence services) began in June 1940. These culminated in November 1940 in the removal of all Jews from public functions, including universities, which led directly to student protests in Leiden and elsewhere. At the same time, there was an increasing feeling of unrest amongst workers in Amsterdam, especially the workers at the shipyards in Amsterdam-Noord, who were threatened with forced labour in Germany.
As tensions rose, the Dutch pro-nazi movement NSB and its streetfighting arm, the WA (Weerbaarheidsafdeling - defence section), were involved in a series of provocations in Jewish neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. This eventually led to a series of street battles between the WA and Jewish self-defence groups and their supporters, with as high point a pitched battle on February 11, 1941 on the Waterlooplein in which WA member Hendrik Koot was badly wounded. He died of his injuries on February 14, 1941.
On February 12, 1941, German soldiers, assisted by Dutch police, encircled the old Jewish neighbourhood and cordoned it off from the rest of the city by putting up barbed wire, opening bridges and putting in police checkpoints. This neighbourhood was now forbidden for non-Jews.
On February 19, the German Grüne Polizei stormed into ice-cream salon Koco in the Van Woustraat. In the fight that ensued, several police officers were wounded. Revenge for this and other fights came in the weekend of February 22 and February 23, when a large scale pogrom was undertaken by the Germans. 425 Jewish men, age 20-35 were taken hostage and imprisoned in Kamp Schoorl and eventually sent to the Buchenwald and Mauthausen concentration camps, where most of them died within the year. Out of 425, only 2 survived.
 The strike
Following this pogrom, on February 24, an open air meeting was held on the Noordermarkt to organise a strike to protest against the pogrom as well as the forced labour in Germany. The Communist Party of the Netherlands, made illegal by the Germans, printed and spread a call to strike throughout the city the next morning. The first to strike were the city's tram drivers, followed by other city services as well as companies like De Bijenkorf and schools. Though the Germans immediately took measures to suppress the strike, which had grown spontaneously as other workers followed the example of the tram drivers, it still spread to other areas, including Zaanstad, Kennemerland in the west, Bussum, Hilversum and Utrecht in the east and the south. The strike did not last long. By February 27, much of it had been suppressed by the German police. Although ultimately unsuccessful, it was still significant in that it was the first direct action against the Nazis' treatment of Jews in Europe.
The next strike would be student strikes in November 1941, and after that the large April–May strikes in 1943, that hailed in the period of armed covert resistance on a national scale.
In the rest of occupied Europe only the Danes and the Luxemburgers went on strike, but not as early as the Dutch.
Kom op 25 februari naar de Dokwerker!
Op zaterdag 25 februari 2012 herdenken wij in Amsterdam de Februaristaking. Wij eren de vele tienduizenden mensen die op 25 en 26 februari 1941 in Amsterdam staakten tegen de vervolging van Joodse landgenoten, spoedig gevolgd door bewoners van de Zaanstreek, Haarlem, Velsen, Utrecht, Hilversum en Weesp. Een unieke rebellie tegen de Duitse bezetting. Wij herdenken de mensen die daarbij om het leven kwamen en ook de meer dan 100.000 Joodse landgenoten die door de nazi´s werden omgebracht.
We leven nu weer in onzekere tijden. Velen kijken bezorgd naar de wereldwijde economische ontwikkelingen, zijn bezorgd over hun inkomen en hun pensioen; vragen zich af hoe de toekomst eruit ziet voor hun kinderen. Er is angst voor terrorisme en immigratie. Dit kan leiden tot het tegenover elkaar komen te staan van bevolkingsgroepen. Dat mogen we niet laten gebeuren. Het verleden heeft ons geleerd waartoe dit kan leiden. Wij blijven opkomen voor de rechten van elke bevolkingsgroep in onze samenleving en laten ons horen wanneer deze rechten worden aangetast.
Verschillen in geloof, politieke overtuiging, afkomst en seksuele geaardheid horen respect voor elkaar en fatsoenlijke omgang niet uit te sluiten. In de geest van de Februaristaking treden wij op tegen opvattingen en gedragingen waaraan racisme en discriminatie ten grondslag liggen. Tevens maken wij ons sterk voor bescherming van democratische en mensenrechten.
Wij vragen ieder die deze uitgangspunten onderschrijft op zaterdag 25 februari aanwezig te zijn op het Jonas Daniël Meijerplein en daar deel te nemen aan het defilé langs het monument de Dokwerker.
Comité Herdenking Februaristaking 1941
Gemeentebestuur van Amsterdam