web analytics
August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Netherlands: The Holocaust As Memory Battlefield

Gerstenfeld-052512

There are few societies where the contradiction between Holocaust distortion and Holocaust commemoration is as pronounced as it is in the Netherlands. This phenomenon came to the fore earlier this month on National Memorial Day, May 4, designated to commemorate the many victims of the German occupier. One hundred thousand Dutch Jews – more than 70 percent of the country’s pre-war community – were by far the largest group of victims.

The small town of Vorden decided that those participating in the ceremony for Dutch victims could also jointly visit the graves of German soldiers who are buried there. Originally it was intended that the local choir would sing a German song at the graves. That part of the program was soon scrapped. A Jewish organization went to court and obtained an injunction which forbade the mayor – who is a main proponent of whitewashing the war past – to participate in the visit to the German graves. A number of Jews hired a small plane that flew over the town with a banner reading: “Vorden Went Wrong.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the Vorden authorities: “By honoring the German soldiers who occupied the Netherlands on behalf of the most murderous regime in human history…the local authorities of Vorden have basically rewritten the history of the war, erasing the critical distinction between victims and perpetrators. Such a decision is apparently based on the erroneous assumption that forgiveness automatically leads to reconciliation, ignores the horrific nature of the Nazi regime and is an insult to its victims.”

The Vorden incident did not stand alone. The National Committee for Commemoration chose a 15-year-old boy to read his poem at the National Ceremony in Amsterdam. It commemorated his uncle, after whom he was named, who had joined the Waffen SS. After protests, the reading was cancelled.

Dutch whitewashers and distorters of the Holocaust and the Second World War come from different backgrounds. A number of them are family members of those Dutch who collaborated with Nazi Germany. The Netherlands had 25,000 Waffen SS volunteers, the largest contingent in Western Europe. And there were many other collaborators not limited to members of the Dutch Nazi party.

Related phenomena are the defacing of Holocaust memorials and Jewish sites, swastikas painted on buildings, and anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial postings on Dutch Internet sites Dutch Prime Minister Marc Rutte, who was educated as a historian, said, while he was the parliamentary leader of the liberal faction, that Holocaust denial should not be punished.

On the other hand, it is difficult to find another country where so much attention is given to commemorating its destroyed Jewish communities. Many municipalities clean and maintain Jewish cemeteries on a regular basis. Some organizations and individuals even re-erect fallen gravestones and repaint the lettering.

Not only are there monuments for the murdered Jews in many towns, there are even plans for new ones. Memorial “stumbling” stones embedded in pavements in front of homes where Jews lived before their deaths have been placed in tens of towns and more are planned for the future.

Jewish monuments are “adopted” and cleaned by schoolchildren in some towns. Many synagogues that were no longer in use after the Second World War have been restored in past decades and serve as cultural centers and the like. A few even host Jewish services. There are many other annual memorial activities.

Prime Minister Rutte best embodies the ignorance and ambiguity of many authorities. At the beginning of this year the continued lack of an apology for the Dutch wartime government’s almost total disinterest in the fate of the Dutch Jews became a public issue. Two Freedom Party parliamentarians, Geert Wilders and Raymond de Roon, submitted questions on this matter to the prime minister. Rutte refused to apologize. The reasons he gave were entirely irrelevant to the questions he was asked.

Thus the Netherlands, in its refusal to acknowledge the wartime misconduct of its authorities, remains far behind all other Western European governments.

Much of what has been described above exists in other countries as well, but nowhere is the dichotomy between commemoration and denial as clearly visible as in the Netherlands.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He has authored or edited 20 books, several of which address anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism.

About the Author: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is a board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (2000-2012). He is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Netherlands: The Holocaust As Memory Battlefield”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal in Gaza
Mashaal Vows Cease-Fire a Step to New ‘Resistance’ War against Israel
Latest Indepth Stories
TorahScroll AoT17

The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.

Troodler-082914

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.

Eisenstock-082914

How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?

Israeli-flag

In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .

Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.

The entertainment industry appears divided about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Israelis in Gaza border communities need to get out; who will help them?

More Articles from Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld
anvil oslo

Studies show that large numbers of Europeans hold a demonic view of Israel.

President Barack Obama met with Israeli and Palestinian Authority negotiators Tuesday morning

Now that several weeks have passed since President Obama’s visit to Israel, it is possible to get a better perspective on many of its aspects. Focus must not only be placed on what was said and done, but also on what was missing.

On February 17, the Dutch Nederland 2 TV station broadcast an interview with Dutch Turkish youth conducted by volunteer youth worker Mehmet Sahin. In the broadcast the youngsters expressed their admiration for Hitler and his role in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.

On October 15, the Knesset voted unanimously to dissolve itself. Elections will be held on January 22, 2013. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to take the step after realizing he could not obtain a majority for his proposed budget.

When Israelis say, “I worry about my grandchildren’s future,” it has a radically different dimension than similar concerns expressed in many other countries.

Since Oslo we have had some Israeli governments emulate Neville Chamberlain’s foolish position. While the current government has not done so, there certainly is vast room for improvement in the presentation of Israel’s case to the world.

There are few societies where the contradiction between Holocaust distortion and Holocaust commemoration is as pronounced as it is in the Netherlands. This phenomenon came to the fore earlier this month on National Memorial Day, May 4, designated to commemorate the many victims of the German occupier. One hundred thousand Dutch Jews – more than 70 percent of the country’s pre-war community – were by far the largest group of victims.

Last month the IDF responded to rockets being launched from Gaza into southern Israel by bombing Gazan targets. It took little time for some media outlets to equate the Palestinian aggressor with the Israeli aggressed. It took only slightly longer for many other media outlets to highlight Israel’s actions while shoving continued Palestinian aggression into the background.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-netherlands-the-holocaust-as-memory-battlefield/2012/05/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: