Daughter of survivors rejects Holocaust museum’s plan to mark modern-day refugees


AMSTERDAM (JTA) — A daughter of survivors said she would stop giving talks at a Dutch Holocaust museum because it planned to host an event in support of modern-day refugees.

Lea van Coeverden is critical of the Camp Westerbork memorial museum’s plan to host a June event titled “Night of the Refugee.” She and other critics say the event inaccurately suggest that the plight of modern-day refugees is comparable to the victims of the Nazi genocide who were imprisoned at Westerbork.

“Because of the comparison of the the Holocaust to the debate about refugees, I have decided to no longer work with” the museum, she wrote, according to a report of her letter by the Organization of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands, or NIK.

The vice chairman of the Dutch Central Jewish Board, Ronny Naftaniel, said holding the event in Westerbork is inappropriate because it implies a comparison between today’s refugee crisis and the systemic annihilation of European Jewry.

But the museum’s director, Dirk Mulder, said Westerbork is an appropriate venue because the camp began in 1939 as a refugee facility set up for German Jews by the Dutch government. Only later, he said, did the invading Nazis turn Westerbork into a transit camp through which thousands of Jews passed on their way to extermination.

Nazis and collaborators murdered some 104,000 Jews from the Netherlands – at least 75 percent of the total number of Jews there when the Germans invaded. Most victims passed through Westerbork.

Recommended from JTA