King Willem-Alexander unveiled the National Holocaust Names monument in Amsterdam on Sunday in a ceremony broadcast live on public television.
The monument features the names and dates of birth of 102,000 Dutch Jews, Roma and Sinti and their age at the time they were killed in the Nazi death camps.
Caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte, who was one of the speakers at the ceremony commemorated the ‘cold welcome given to the small group that did return,’ calling it ‘a black page in Dutch history’. Anti Semitism is never far away, he said. ‘This momument says, no shouts: be vigilant.’
Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema said the city authorities had had been guilty of a ‘serious dereliction of duty towards its Jewish citizens’ both during and after World War II.
The monument, on Weesperstraat, which was part of the Jewish district before the war, has a long and fraught history. The monument was conceived over a decade ago by chairman of the Dutch Auschwitz Comité Jacques Grishaver and designed by Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind, himself the son of a Holocaust survivor.
Plans to put the monument in the Wertheim park in Amsterdam were abandoned when locals protested. The current location was the subject of years of legal wrangling, with locals saying the monument would cause unsafe situations in case of large numbers of visitors. In 2019 the plan was finally given the go-ahead by the Supreme Court.
Grishaver said the momument, which cost €15m and was financed by Amsterdam local council and donations, should act as a warning for future generations. Exclusion, he told local Amsterdam broadcaster AT5, ‘pits groups against each other’.
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