German soldiers will not be included in Remembrance Day services

German soldiers will not be included in Saturday’s Remembrance Day commemorations, the organising committee says in Thursday’s Trouw.

Last year, the May 4 commemorations were marred by several disputes over the inclusion of German soldiers in the ceremonies and the threat of boycots by Jewish groups.

‘We have learned from last year,’ Jan van Kooten, director of the Nationaal Comite 4 en 5 Mei, told the paper. ‘If something can be misinterpreted, then we should not do it.’ May 4 is not a time for reconciliation, the organisation said.

Poetry

Last year the committee cancelled a poetry reading by a 15-year-old boy at the national war memorial in Amsterdam who wrote about his uncle who had joined the SS.

There were also protests about plans by the eastern village of Vorden to sanction a walk past the graves of 10 German soldiers during a local ceremony. The issue ended up in court.

The disputes led Jewish lobby group Federatie Joods Nederland to launch a campaign to ensure German solders are not remembered at the annual Remembrance Day commemorations

The organisation argues that acknowledging the German war dead would be an ‘injustice to all victims, both alive and dead’.

World War II

Earlier this week, the head of a Jewish social work group said in Wednesday’s Volkskrant the commemorations on May 4 should focus only on the victims of World War II, including 102,000 Jewish Dutch nationals.

Hans Vuijsje said the Jewish community has been deeply hurt by expanding the Remembrance Day event to cover soldiers who died in conflicts post 1945.

Until 1961, the ceremony focused on World War II victims but was then expanded to cover people who died in the Dutch-Indonesia conflict and on peacekeeping missions in Lebanon, Bosnia and Afghanistan.


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