PM: Dutch Holocaust is a black page

16th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

16 March 2005, AMSTERDAM — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said in Jerusalem on Wednesday that the extermination of almost the entire Dutch Jewish community in World War II was a "pitch-black chapter" in the nation's history.

16 March 2005

AMSTERDAM — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said in Jerusalem on Wednesday that the extermination of almost the entire Dutch Jewish community in World War II was a "pitch-black chapter" in the nation's history.

Balkenende was speaking at a gathering for the opening of the new Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum. About 40 world leaders, including Balkenende, gathered in Israel on Tuesday night for the official opening.

"Yes, of course we can point out the many examples of courage, friendship and solidarity. But also indifference and coldness and treachery," he said.

It is generally accepted there were 140,000 Jews were living in the Netherlands prior to World War II, but more than 100,000 did not return from Nazi extermination camps. Other estimates suggest there were 105,000 Jews living in the Netherlands.

Only in Poland was such a large percentage of a nation's Jewish population sent to Nazi camps, news agency ANP reported.

"The deportation of most of the Dutch Jews during the occupation is a pitch-black chapter in the history of my country. A chapter that also casts a darker shadow on our post-war history," Balkenende told gathered guests.

The Christian Democrat CDA leader said it had taken great effort to bring to light the truth of what occurred during the 1940-45 occupation. "Step after painful step we have learned to look with a critical eye on what happened," he said.

But the director of the Israel Information and Documentation Centre, Ronny Naftaniel, said the prime minister's statement did not go far enough. Instead, he had wished to hear an apology from the Dutch State.

"It was a nice speech, with warm words, but I missed a word of apology... for the behaviour of public servants, for the coldness and the collaboration, I think that an apology would be very prudent," he said.

Previously on his first trip to the Mid-East, Balkenende met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and said he deserved international support to establish a viable, independent Palestinian state. The Netherlands will examine what support it can provide within an EU context.

He also met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has signalled he will work with the Palestinian on the condition that attacks against Israel cease. Balkenende said both Abbas and Sharon appeared committed to the peace process.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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