Dutch railway company grants €5 million to Holocaust memorial centres without consultation

June 28, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The CEO of the state-owned Dutch railway company Nederlandse Spoorwegen has met with representatives of the Dutch Jewish community for the first time – exactly one year after NS’s own commission issued its advisory report calling on NS to “consider, in consultation with the groups concerned, a collective expression of recognition” for the 102,000 Jewish Holocaust victims who perished during or after transport by NS – including 20,000 children.

Dutch Jews board the train that is to take them to Auschwitz. Photograph from 1942 or 1943.    Photo: Rudolf Breslauer – Wikimedia Commons.

Instead of consultations, Roger van Boxtel notified the Jewish community that NS had already decided that its full collective expression would be an award of €5 million to four Dutch memorial centres.

The Jewish organizations, consisting of the Centraal Joods Overleg (CJO), the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) and the Verbond Belangenbehartiging Vervolgingsslachtoffers (VBV), which jointly represent the interests of Dutch Jewish victims, wherever they now live, express profound disappointment and sadness that NS chose to announce a “collective expression of recognition” without consulting representatives of the victims and without contributing to Dutch Jewish life.

The NS has a long history of ignoring the Jewish community. Today’s course of action is in line with this practice and continues a course of action that the Jewish community had hoped would be a thing of the past after NS’s agreement last year to provide compensation for the remaining Holocaust survivors, as a result of the advocacy of survivor Salo Muller.

CJO President Eddo Verdoner said, “Instead of working together with the Jewish community to acknowledge the past and provide a ‘collective expression of recognition,’ NS has chosen once again to act with disregard to the Jewish community that was devastated by NS’s actions during the Holocaust.  We urge NS to reconsider.”

VBV Chair Flory Neter said: “It is not appropriate for the total of approximately 5000 survivors and their children to be paid approximately €40 million and the 102,000 who perished to be marginalized in this way. Seventy-five years after the Jewish community in the Netherlands was devastated in part through the actions of NS.  Today, a new amount of salt has been added to the wounds.”

WJRO Chair of Operations Gideon Taylor said, “NS’s own committee gave it the opportunity, seventy-five years after the Holocaust, to work together with the Jewish community to memorialize the past, contribute to Dutch Jewish communal life, and assist Dutch Holocaust survivors, wherever they now live, who suffer ongoing medical and emotional needs exacerbated even further during this pandemic.  It is a shame that NS has chosen not to take this opportunity.”

In November 2018, NS announced that it would establish a compensation program for Holocaust survivors and their families transported by the NS.  In January 2019, NS appointed the Committee on Individual Compensation for Victims of WWII Transport by NS to provide advice on the level of benefits and on who should be eligible for them.  In August 2019, NS announced a year-long deadline (ending August 5, 2020) for Dutch Holocaust survivors or their surviving spouses/children to submit applications for compensation to NS for its role in deporting Dutch Jews during the Holocaust.

More than 75 per cent of Dutch Jewry was deported and murdered in the Holocaust, most of them transported to their death by the NS. The Nazis deported Jews to the transit camp Westerbork on NS trains.  Approximately 107,000 Jews, including Anne Frank and her family, were sent there before eventually being transported to other concentration and extermination camps, including Auschwitz, Vught, Amersfoort, and Sobibor.  Only 5,200 survived.

The victims included approximately 20,000 children who were transported during the war to extermination camps where they were almost immediately gassed.

Only about 30,000 of the 140,000 Jews living in the Netherlands at the start of WWII survived the war.  This represents the largest percentage of Jews to die in a country during the war except for Poland. Today, there are between 41,000 and 45,000 Jews living in the Netherlands.


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