Dutch Nazi camp drops barbed wire sale after protests

27th November 2012, Comments 4 comments

The foundation in charge of a former Nazi concentration camp in the Netherlands on Tuesday cancelled the planned sale of pieces of barbed wire dug up at the site after protests from Jewish groups.

Kamp Amersfoort Foundation director Harry Ruijs said he would no longer sell the 50 pieces of wire for 10 euros ($13) apiece to finance an exhibition of artifacts discovered at the site around 50 kilometres (30 miles) southwest of Amsterdam.

"It seems we have hurt some people and it was not our intention at all," Ruijs told AFP. "That's why we decided to halt the sale."

Ruijs said the foundation originally decided to sell the barbed wire pieces -- mounted on a display board -- to cover the 500 euros it would cost to put on the exhibition to "draw attention to the importance of physical evidence whose preservation costs money."

Artifacts included helmets, water bottles and 150 mysterious name tags in which the names and addresses have been engraved in mirror image.

The plans to mount and sell the barbed wire pieces were met with outrage by Jewish organisations on Tuesday, the day after the planned sale was announced.

"Barbed wire is the archetypical symbol of the concentration camp. It should not be put up for sale at all," said Esther Voet, deputy director of the Dutch Centre for Documentation and Information on Israel (CIDI).

"Imagine if some of these pieces of barbed wire are ultimately bought by a neo-Nazi. That would be horrible," Voet said.

A spokeswoman for the Netherlands's Central Jewish Council who asked not to be named said that idea was "completely tasteless and lacking in respect for the victims and their families."

Between 35,000 and 40,000 people passed through Kamp Amersfoort during World War II -- of whom at least half were deported to Nazi death camps including Buchenwald.

Today, not much of the camp remains. Buildings to train police officers were built on the site after the war.

Ruijs said he consulted former prisoners at the camp and their relatives before the sale and that their reactions had been positive.

"We'll now give away the barbed wire pieces to those who ask for it and had relatives who passed through the camp," said Ruijs.


© 2012 AFP

4 Comments To This Article

  • carrico posted:

    on 29th November 2012, 09:50:18 - Reply

    we had a chace to visit a concentraton camp while in poland one fall, had no trouble turning it down, our stay had been too lovely..in amsterdam, one of the most haunting monuments is on the museum plein. i walk among those concrete pillars growing ever more closely together and listen to, i think, the sound of a freight train. i am always puzzled. no, daniel, i am not, most cynical. i want my grandsons to learn by any means possible.
  • Daniel posted:

    on 28th November 2012, 10:26:53 - Reply

    It is surprising that Mr Ruijs and his team hadn't anticipated the concern such a sale would almost certainly cause.

    This isn't like the sale of the usual artifacts one finds on a battlefield for example - even if that battlefield marks an event within living memory. These camps were grotesquely unique as I'm sure (or at least I had hoped) everybody knows. Selling off fragments of the fabric of this camp is therefore bound to be a sensitive issue.

    Obviously, I accept the explanation given: that this was a well-intentioned plan to generate 500 euro to pay for an exhibition. Frankly, one has to congratulate all involved for finding 500 euro enough for such a venture. Only the most cynical observer might suspect an element of "All publicity is good publicity" could have entered into anybody's thinking.
  • DAvid posted:

    on 28th November 2012, 09:57:59 - Reply

    When someone has done there research they will see the meaning of sacred ground. I have been to Auschwitz and let me say if I had someone die there I would not want the grounds disturbed but yet remembered.
  • carrico posted:

    on 28th November 2012, 09:23:37 - Reply

    i don't get it: so the cops who trained there are also tainted with jewish blood?