Film director Verhoeven defies Dutch Shoah myth in ‘Black Book’ thriller

By Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Carice van Houten as Rachel Stein in “Black Book”
“Black Book” is a first-class thriller, pitting the Dutch resistance against the Nazi occupiers in the waning months of World War II, and it holds plenty of unexpected plot twists.

The real surprise, though, is that unlike other depictions of that era, not all the underground fighters are heroic, not all the Germans are evil, and even among the Dutch who opposed the Nazis’ anti-Semitism was widespread.

Such a movie rattles our favorite stereotypes and dramatizes some odd statistics. In the land of Anne Frank, proportionally more Jews were deported and killed than in any other country in occupied Europe, while notoriously “anti-Semitic” Poland has more gentiles listed as rescuers of Jews by Yad Vashem than citizens of any other nationality.

The film’s central figure is the beautiful Jewish Dutch cabaret singer Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten), who joins a resistance cell after seeing her parents gunned down by Wehrmacht soldiers.