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Holland seeks EU heritage label for Nazi camp Westerbork

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THE HAGUE (JTA) — The Dutch government has asked the European Commission to recognize the Peace Palace and the former Nazi transit camp Westerbork as heritage sites.

The Peace Palace in The Hague, which houses the International Court of Justice, was opened 100 years ago “to prevent the kind of war to which the camp so painfully attests and must continue to do so,” the Council for Culture, a government advisory body, wrote in a recommendation to the Cabinet in December. 

The Cabinet adopted the recommendation on Feb. 8 and requested the European Council to give the two locales the European Heritage Label — a designation reserved for “sites which have played a key role in the history and the building of the European Union,” according to the European Commission.

In total, nearly 100,000 Jews, or 70 percent of Holland’s pre-Holocaust Jewish population, were transported from Westerbork to Nazi extermination and concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Sobibor, Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt, according to Yad Vashem. The premises of the former Nazi camp have been made a national memorial.

According to Yad Vashem, Westerbork was established in October 1939 by the Dutch government to detain German Jewish refugees who had entered the Netherlands illegally.

Meanwhile, the municipality in whose jurisdiction Westerbork lies, Midden-Drenthe, reportedly has rejected a plan to place memorial cobblestones in front of the homes of Holocaust victims — an ongoing project taking place in municipalities across Europe for the past 20 years.

The public broadcaster NOS quoted unnamed city officials as saying the municipality “does enough to commemorate the Holocaust already.”

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