Holland’s Jews Join Debate over German Role in Celebrations

As Holland prepares for the 50th anniversary of its liberation from the Nazis, Jews here are joining the debate over whether Germany should be invited to participate in the commemorations.

Representatives of Holland’s Ashkenazic, Sephardic and Liberal congregations recently weighed into the debate with a statement saying that the Jewish community in Holland was not in favor of inviting Germany to next year’s commemoration, scheduled for May 5.

“Emotionally our community has still a long way to go to commemorate the dark period of 1940 to 1945 jointly with Germans,” the statement said. “The wounds have by no means yet been healed. The fact that over 80 percent of the Jewish population was murdered is still in vivid memory with the survivors and their children.”

The congregational leaders said that despite their objections to including the Germans in the celebration, they understand the need to work with present-day Germany and to avoid prejudices regarding the new generation of Germans,

In contrast to the views of the congregations, Ronny Naftaniel, director of the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, supported the idea of allowing German participation in an article he wrote for the daily newspaper Handelsblad.

Germany has not sought to participate in the commemoration, but some in Holland have put forth the idea as an opportunity for reconciliation.

Anti-German sentiments remain strong in Holland. A recent opinion poll found that many people here hold anti-German stereotypes, including the beliefs that all Germans are arrogant and aggressive, and that the majority of them are neo-Nazis.

NEXT STORY