Nationalist Senator apologizes for calling Jews "docile lambs" in Holocaust
Toine Beukering, Senator for right-wing nationalist party FvD, apologized for describing Jewish people in the Holocaust as "docile lambs" during an interview with the Telegraaf on Saturday. "That was a very awkward comment. I also regret it and take it back", Beukering now said, the Telegraaf reports.
In Saturday's interview, brigadier general Beukering spoke about his reasons for pursuing a career in the military. Even as a child, he read many books on the Second World War and the Holocaust, he said. "I've always been intrigued how that is possible. That the Jews - such brave, [combat-ready] people - were just chased into the gas chambers like docile lambs. That has always fascinated me," he said. He added that he never understood why that happened and was determined to make sure it never happened again.
Beukering's comments were quickly denounced by many organizations specialized on the issue. "There was resistance everywhere. Lack of knowledge, education about the Holocaust is a failure," said Maria van Beurden Cahn of the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam.
But Paul Cliteur, FvD faction leader in the Eerste Kamer, believes that his party colleague did nothing wrong. "Given the context, I understood what he meant by that. I have not been able to read any malicious comments against Jews therein. I also think it is a shame that people take the most malicious interpretations of such an interview as a starting point. As far as I'm concerned, he shouldn't have taken back that statement", Cliteur said to the Telegraaf.
Beukering also addressed the remark he made in the Telegraaf interview in which he seemed to question the conclusions of the Joint Investigation Team. "I fully endorse the explanation of the Joint Investigation Team", he said in the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate. He added that his remark that the perpetrator may have been an "Ukrainian madman" was "taken out of context" in the interview. According to the Telegraaf, Beukering himself approved the text of the interview.
Despite the controversy that arose from the interview, Beukering still plans to run for president of the Eerste Kamer. "My candidacy stands. I will show that I am a worthy candidate. But I'm not going to speculate about my chances", he said, according to the newspaper.
The Eerste Kamer will draw up a profile for its new president next week, after which candidates can register. The senators will elect the new Eerste Kamer president the week after that.