Jewish groups condemn ship, world’s largest, named for Dutch SS officer


(JTA) — European Jewish groups are again protesting the name of the world’s largest ship, which was named after a Dutch officer in the Nazi Waffen-SS military force.

The Pieter Schelte, which docked in Rotterdam in early January, is named after an SS officer convicted of war crimes in World War II, according to the Guardian. Schelte conscripted 4,000 Dutch into forced labor for Nazi Germany and called Jews “parasitic.”

“Naming such a ship after an SS officer who was convicted of war crimes is an insult to the millions who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis,” said Jonathan Arkush, vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, according to the Guardian. “We urge the ship’s owners to reconsider and rename the ship after someone more appropriate.”

Esther Voet, director of the Hague-based Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, noted the 10-year fight to have the name changed.

“But no, we’re left with this fact: the largest ship in the world is named after an officer in the SS, and not enough people are offended to get this changed,” she was quoted as saying in the Guardian.

The Swiss shipbuilding company Allseas named the ship for Pieter Schelte Heerema, the father of Allseas’ owner, in recognition of his work in the oil and gas industry following the war. The company said that Heerema defected from the SS during the war.

Whether the Pieter Schelte is the “world’s largest ship” is in dispute, according to the Guardian, but it is certainly the largest crane ship.


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