Tags: netherlands | dutch | holocaust | memorial | anne frank

What's Behind the Delay in Building a Dutch Holocaust Memorial?

What's Behind the Delay in Building a Dutch Holocaust Memorial?
Anne Frank's facsimile diaries are on display during a press conference on June 11, 2009, in the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam on the eve of the 80th anniversary of the birth of Anne Frank. (Ade Johnson/AFP via Getty Images)

By and Manfred Gerstenfeld
Thursday, 21 November 2019 05:15 PM Current | Bio | Archive

For decades, millions of young people have been impacted by the riveting Diary of Anne Frank. Millions more have made the emotional pilgrimage to the Frank’s “Secret annex” in Amsterdam, often clutching their own copy of the Jewish teen’s hallowed words.

This phenomenon has helped create a far too favorable image of the Dutch authorities’ actual behavior toward Jews during WWII. And in fact, the post-war recognition of official Dutch failure toward the Jews during the Shoah has been very slow or non-existent.

Until today, despite repeated efforts in the Parliament, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has refused to admit these major shortcomings, leaving the Netherlands as the only Western European country to formally apologize for their deadly failure to act. Even the rulers of tiny Luxembourg and Monaco have admitted their wartime failures toward their Jews.

Back in 2000, then Prime Minister Wim Kok was forced by his deputy Gerrit Zalm to apologize for Dutch post-war behavior toward the Jews, his apology rang hollow, as Kok insisted that those actions were — except in one case — “without, however, presuming wrong intentions by those responsible.” At the time Kok apologized, it was already publicly known that there were very important “wrong intentions” toward the Jews in a number of other cases.

Thirteen years ago, the Dutch Auschwitz Committee took the initiative for a public monument in Amsterdam commemorating and listing the names of the 102,000 Jews from the Netherlands — out of 140,000 — murdered. Though approved by the municipality, it has yet to be built.

In 2019, neighbors of the planned monument have once more appealed against its location to the Supreme Court. This is unlikely to decide before spring 2020.

This huge delay in the establishment of the Holocaust monument is one more illustration of a nation’s general unwillingness to admit major past crimes.

A thesis by a historian claims that the Dutch colonial history was as cruel as that of the British, French, and Portuguese in their colonies. But Anne Frank and 100,000 other Dutch Jewry weren’t victims of Dutch colonialism. They became statistics in the Nazis’ Final Solution.

The apathy or willing collaboration of their fellow Dutch citizens contributed to the horrific fate of so many Dutch citizens, an ugly fact that new generations in The Netherlands deserve to know. Perhaps that shocking chapter will awaken today’s Dutch people to act against today’s anti-Semitism in the country.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the Associate Dean, Director Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization. Abraham Cooper has been a longtime activist for Jewish and human rights causes. His extensive involvement in Soviet Jewry included visiting refuseniks, helping to open Moscow’s first Jewish Cultural Center, and lecturing at the Soviet Academy of Sciences and the Sakharov Foundation. In 1977, he came to L.A. to help Rabbi Marvin Hier found the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and for three decades Rabbi Cooper has overseen the Wiesenthal Center’s international social action agenda including worldwide antisemitism and extremist groups, Nazi crimes, Interfaith Relations, the struggle to thwart the anti-Israel Divestment campaign, and worldwide promotion of tolerance education. Widely recognized as an international authority on issues related to digital hate and the Internet, Rabbi Cooper was listed in 2017 by Newsweek among the top most influential Rabbis in the United States. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.​

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is Chairman Emeritus, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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For decades, millions of young people have been impacted by the riveting Diary of Anne Frank. Millions more have made the emotional pilgrimage to the Frank’s “Secret annex” in Amsterdam, often clutching their own copy of the Jewish teen’s hallowed words.
netherlands, dutch, holocaust, memorial, anne frank
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2019-15-21
Thursday, 21 November 2019 05:15 PM
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