Sephardic Jews first came to Amsterdam in the late 15th century, escaping persecution in Spain and Portugal, and settled behind Waterlooplein, bordered by the Amstel and the Herengracht canal. They integrated successfully into Dutch life and flourished, with many working in the diamond industry. After enjoying years of religious freedom in Amsterdam, everything changed with the advent of World War II; the majority of Amsterdam’s 100,000 Jews were herded up and transported to Auschwitz and Belsen concentration camps. By 1945, less than 500 survived.
Today, the Jewish Cultural Quarter houses several monuments to Jewish life in Amsterdam.
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