Prime minister Mark Rutte had harsh words about the Hamas attacks on Israel last October during Sunday’s annual event to remember the horrors of the World War II Holocaust.
The day of the attacks was a day in which “the global Jewish community was again confronted with a deliberate and coordinated killing spree”, Rutte said at a ceremony in Amsterdam’s Wertheimpark, where a memorial to those who died is located.
The wave of anti-Jewish reactions since then has led people to again feel unsafe and increased security at schools and synagogues, he said. “It is as if ‘Auschwitz never again’ had become a meaningless phrase,” the prime minister said.
Rutte said that tomorrow, “and all the days thereafter, I will engage with everyone again about the war in Gaza… but not today. Not on the day we commemorate the six million victims of the Holocaust.”
“Today we honour their memory,” Rutte said. “And we can do this no better way than by continuing to speak out – against hatred and exclusion, against the threat of violence, against anti-Semitism. By remaining alert, by serving peace, humanity and tolerance in our actions.”
The Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated 79 years ago and Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema told the crowd that is “extra painful” that Holocaust survivors have had to witness October 7 and the surge in anti-Semitism in their final years.
And they also face the worry about whether their children and grandchildren can be themselves, she said.
The Netherlands is still struggling to come to terms with the way it treated Jews who returned home in 1945 and whose property and possessions were stolen or lost.
Many councils were all but welcoming to Jewish citizens who returned to claim their homes after the war, even requiring them to pay tax over the periods they had been in hiding or in a camp.
Some 25 municipalities were involved in buying the real estate from the Germans themselves and obstructed later attempts by owners to get their property back.
Only 35,000 of the country’s Jewish population of 140,000 survived the war and 102,000 of the 107,000 who were deported to death camps were killed.
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