German government urged not to honor Holocaust rescuer with murky record


AMSTERDAM (JTA) — More than 200 people, including a Dutch chief rabbi, are protesting plans in Germany to honor a Holocaust-era official who is said to have both saved and doomed Jews.

The call came in a letter that the German ambassador to the Netherlands received Thursday from Hans Knoop, a Dutch-Jewish journalist. It concerned the German government’s reported plans to fund a museum named for Hans Calmeyer in Osnabruck.

As a jurist for the Nazi German forces in the Netherlands, Calmeyer was tasked with reviewing ethnicity issues, primarily in appeals by people who were registered as Jews but claimed to be Aryan.

In the 1990s, Israel’s national Holocaust museum Yad Vashem asserted that Calmeyer’s actions in his post saved at least 3,000 people, or two-thirds of the applications he reviewed.

However, newly discovered testimonies and other materials suggest that Calmeyer also arbitrarily declined solid appeals by applicants who may have been spared deportation under the Nazi occupation’s own racial laws.

According to some accounts, he also reversed the Aryan status of hundreds of civilians who never contacted his office, with tragic consequences for them. Calmeyer died in 1972. Yad Vashem is reviewing the new materials.

“Calmeyer undoubtedly voluntarily became a member of the occupying authority,” read the letter, which was signed by Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs and Jaap van Zweden, the music director of the New York Philharmonic, among other notable personalities. “He actively participated in the destruction of at least 104,000 Jews residing in the Netherlands. Therefore you can hardly call him a hero without reservation.”

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