Like a slow train coming

21st September 2005, Comments 0 comments

Sixty years too late perhaps, but Dutch rail company NS is finally apologising for its role in the Holocaust by launching an anti-racism campaign.

Jews arriving at Muiderpoort station

These days life at Muiderpoort train station on the fork of the Amsterdam Central - Utrecht and Amsterdam Central - Hilversum routes is fairly quiet.

But on 29 September 2005 the station in the east of the city will be the focal point of a long overdue apology.

Muiderpoort station is indelibly linked to a portion of its history the national rail company Nederland Spoorwegen (NS) has chosen not to highlight.

The Nazi occupiers used Muiderpoort station for the last big deportation of Jews from the Netherlands in the Second World War on 29 September 1943. For most it was a one-way journey. Few returned alive from the Nazi death camps in Eastern Europe.

Now 62 years later, the NS is launching an anti-racism campaign in partnership with Jewish organisation CJO to acknowledge responsibility for this, the last of a series of murderous transports facilitated by the company's trains and personnel.

This is the first time NS has publicly apologised for its role in the transports. The company itself has decided it can no longer avoid acknowledging its wartime role. "With this campaign our role will be made clear," a spokesperson for the company said when announcing the new anti-racism campaign.

NS isn't pulling its punches.

On 29 Friday posters will be unveiled in Muiderpoort station which read: "Previously the train to Auschwitz left from here. When will the world become wiser?"

Jews at Muiderpoort station being sent to Westerbork

The posters are being placed in 66 train stations to remind the public how men, women and children were carted off in trains to die... simply because of their religion.

Jewish group CJO is pleased NS said "yes" as soon it was asked to join in the campaign.

Until now, the deportations of Jews have been an "underexposed" element in the recorded history of the rail company. "This chapter was deal with very briefly in previous decades. Now the confrontation is much more concrete," a spokesperson for the CJO said.

During the German occupation of the Netherlands, an estimated 100,000 Jews were transported by train. Many went first to the Dutch internment camp Westerbork before being sent to concentration and death camps, such as Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Only a few thousand survived the Holocaust.

The anti-racism campaign features a second poster which forces us to think about the future.

The poster reads: "Toen moesten de Joden oprotten, wie nu..." This translates as: "Then the Jews had to go. Who is next..." Oprotten can also be translated as piss off, sod off or even fuck off.

The NS hopes its courageous move - albeit 60 years too late - will help prevent a hate crimes in future and get people to understand the racism is a dead-end track.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Holocaust in the Netherlands

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