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Ideology, financial gain and blackmail
Several reasons can be pointed out why Dutch citizens decided to betray fellow countrymen who had gone into hiding. Sometimes they were pro-German to the extent that they reported persons who hid in order not to work for the German invaders. Anti-Semitism played an important part when it came to betraying Jews. Financial gain formed an added motif. In Amsterdam in 1943 the so-called ‘Colonne Heinnecke’ was in operation. This ‘colonne’ that had over 50 members received 7 50 guilders for every Jew they reported.
As far as we know this practice did not take place in Friesland. There were however some so-called helpers who tried to pilfer money and other valuables from jewish people who tried to hide. Frans Vergonet was an infamous example of this, about whom more below.
It could even get more dangerous when captured helpers were forced to choose. Staying alive but co-operate with the occupier or being sent to a concentration camp or in the worst case being executed. In this way some helpers turned into betrayers.
One of the most infamous betrayers of Jews in Friesland was Frans Vergonet. This ex-teacher from Leeuwarden had first pretended to be someone wanting to help Jewish people finding a place to hide. Vergonet, who was very eloquent, managed to gain the trust of several Jews. He put them up at various addresses , mainly in the north-east of Friesland.
It soon turned out he did not act out of love of his fellow men. He was mainly after the wealth of the Jews. When suitcases filled with valuables he was to take care of did not end up at the hidden Jews or other rightful owners and he did not keep his financial arrangements with the foster families he got into trouble. Some resistance people soon started to distrust Vergonet. This got stronger when after his arrest by the ‘SD’ addresses were raided where he had been putting up Jews. Thanks to the thoughtfulness of the resistance the people in hiding had already been safeguarded to other places. Vergonet now became so dangerous it was decided he had to be executed. Thus it came to pass on 27 October 1943.