24 September 2011

The Asscher Diamond Factory on the Tolstraat 127

For me this blog is like a wandering journey through this town. While rambling I am more led by the atmosperes of certain locations than by the historical facts. Like in my own home or livingroom each object has an anecdote connected to it. The pictures below show the Asscher Diamond Factory. I heard a lot of stories about this factory while working for the Shoah Foundation. But it was not untill recently that I discovered that it's actually located not so far from my own house in the Van Ostadestraat.

The factory became well known in the beginning of the 20th century for a special octagonal diamond cut (Asscher cut) that was developped by Joseph Asscher. The company was first based in the centre but later this new factory was build in De Pijp wich was the border of the city at that time. The new streets that arised around the factory in the thirties were called after various gemstones (Diamantbuurt). In that period the factory came under the direction of Abraham Asscher (Joseph's brother)

In the thirties Asscher was a big employer for many Jewish diamond cutters. During world war II Abraham was (together with David Cohen) designated by the germans to be the chairman of the Joodsche Raad. They became a tool of the nazi's in the deportation of tens of thousands Amsterdam Jews. Eventually Abraham Asscher and his family were deported to Bergen-Belsen in 1943 where they survived the war.

I imagine now all the tensions that the diamond workers experienced while working here in the thirties. The rumors, the threats and than the horrible stories of the refugees from Germany, escalating in the invasion of the nazi's and the oppression. It all feels very nearby while looking at this plain and modest entry of the factory somehow.

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