Ruling party distances self from pics showing far-right leaders in Nazi regalia shared in youth group

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The VVD distanced itself from controversial pictures shared in a WhatsApp group group created in October last year to exchange ideas about the party's 70th anniversary celebrated at the time. The party will investigate which members of its youth organization JOVD shared these images, and if any VVD members are among them, action will be taken, NOS reports.

On Wednesday the Telegraaf reported that images were shared in a JOVD message group showing PVV leader Geert Wilders dressed in a Nazi uniform, and FvD leader Thierry Baudet on a gallows. There were also photos of Adolf Hitler among young women, and a picture of a young black boy riding a bicycle with text that the boy was riding fast because the owner of the bike was coming, according to the Telegraaf. 

According to the newspaper, about 200 liberal youth members took part in this group. The group now has a different name and about 75 members, the newspaper reported. At least one member spoke out against the images. "I - as the grandson of a Holocaust survivor - think that those Nazi pictures are quite tasteless," the Telegraaf quoted. According to the newspaper, he received support, but another Hitler photo was posted soon after.

A spokesperson for the VVD told NOS that the party finds these statements "disgusting". The party will find out exactly who was behind them, he said. He would not speculate on steps that will be taken before the culprits are found. 

The JOVD board acknowledged that "inappropriate material" was shared in the message group and called it "unacceptable". The message group was not founded by the JOVD and a number of JOVD members who took part in it were firmly reprimanded, the youth division said, according to NOS.

Among the group members was also a CDA councilor, who shared the picture of Baudet on the gallows, according to the Telegraaf. He said he regretted doing so. 

Last month controversy surrounded the youth division of far-right party FvD, regarding messages shared in WhatsApp groups. A letter sent to the FvD board raised concerns about other members of the youth wing of the party, including its leaders, expressing "authoritarian, fascist and/or National Socialist ideas," that included "anti-Semitism, homophobia and racist imperialism".