Hundreds of people attend Holocaust memorial in Amsterdam
With a silent march and a gathering where the public could participate again after two years, the Holocaust was commemorated on Sunday at the Spiegelmonument "Never again Auschwitz" in Amsterdam. This week marks the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp, the international symbol of the Holocaust.
Hundreds of people came to Wertheim Park for the ceremony. Earlier, the organizer, the Dutch Auschwitz Committee, had called for a large turnout "to send a signal against rising anti-Semitism." The event included speeches by survivor Joop van der Starre, followed by musical interludes. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and State Secretary Maarten van Ooijen (VWS) laid a wreath at the memorial, as did the presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, Jan Anthonie Bruijn and Vera Bergkamp.
Na de Holocaustherdenking bij in het Wertheimpark in Amsterdam. (foto via @PersburoUNN ) pic.twitter.com/ML0V4NfO2k— Joop Soesan 🇮🇱🇳🇱 (@JoopSoesan) January 29, 2023
One of the speakers at the annual National Holocaust Commemoration was Jacques Grishaver, the chairman of the Dutch Auschwitz Committee. "In recent years my gloom has increased. Jew-hatred is emerging again, and racism and intolerance are on the rise. It makes me sad." He referred to certain conspiracy theories and the racist displays that appeared on the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam during New Year's Eve. "I am enormously shocked by that, and condemn that in the strongest terms."
The Dutch Auschwitz Committee will advocate compulsory lessons about the Holocaust in secondary schools, said Grishaver. "Transferring knowledge and learning from the past are essential for a well-functioning, open and compassionate society where there is no room for exclusion and anti-Semitism. More attention is urgently needed for this."
Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema said that 78 years after liberation, anti-Semitism is becoming more prevalent. "Sometimes directly with violence, with threats, with proclamations. Sometimes hidden in ugly conspiracy theories designed to stir up hatred. It's indigestible." This year, the mayor will visit Auschwitz, "together with partners from the Jewish community and young Amsterdammers," she announced.
In her speech, she went on to say that the capital owes "its prosperity, its culture and its identity" to the Jewish community. "The attempt to destroy it has deeply marked Amsterdam. Being an Amsterdamer doesn't come without being confronted with our terrible past, among many beautiful things and much to be proud of."
Premier Mark Rutte en Burg. Halsema zijn vanmorgen sprekers op de jaarlijkse Nat. #Holocaust Herdenking in het #Wertheimpark in Amsterdam. Na 2 jaar coronapauze is er ook weer publiek aanwezig. De NOS doet live verslag vanaf 11 uur. pic.twitter.com/1geDgGP5P8— Robby Hiel (@PersburoUNN) January 29, 2023
Reporting by ANP