Protestant church admits not fighting Antisemitism in WWII
The Dutch Protestant Church (PKN) confessed guilt for its predecessors' failure to combat Antisemitism during World War II, and acknowledged that it contributed to the persecution with its silence. PKN scribe Rene de Reuver will speak the admission of guilt to the Jewish community at the commemoration of Kristallnacht next month, Trouw reports.
The church makes no apologies, because that does not fit with the church, De Reuver said to Trouw. Instead, the church will confess to the Jewish community. "Guilt is the deepest word you can use for failure," he said. "We do not distance ourselves form the past, but we take responsibility and acknowledge our mistakes."
"We fell short in speaking and in silence, in acting and in omitting, in attitude and in thoughts," the confession reads. "The Protestant Church in the Netherlands wants to recognize without hesitation that the church helped prepare the breeding ground in which the seeds of Antisemitism could grow."
It will be given to the Jewish community on the commemoration of Kristallnacht - the night of 9 to 10 November 1938 when there was a mass wave of violence against Jewish people and their possessions spread over Nazi Germany. Kristallnacht is known as the Night of Broken Glass in English. It refers to the crystal-like shards of glass from broken shop and home windows.
This is the first time the PKN acknowledged its failures during and just after the Second World War. "That is late, 75 years late," De Reuver said to the newspaper. "I say it, as it were, with shame on my cheeks. The fact that we are late makes it heavier rather than lighter."
The confession does not target individual churches or their members. According to De Reuver, individuals often did quite well during the war. This is about the church as a whole. "Even during the war years itself, the church authorities often lacked the courage to take a position for the Jewish inhabitants of our country," he said. "It is a confession of the church institute for the church institute."
And this confession is not without consequence for the future, De Reuver said to the newspaper. "You look back with an eye to the present and future. This has consequences for relationships now, we must also fight against Antisemitism now."