Reformed Protestant church in the Netherlands acknowledges responsibility for Holocaust

November 16, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Senior representatives of the Reformed Protestant Church of the Netherlands arrived on Thursday at the Israeli Embassy in the Hague for a special event in which they announced they were acknowledging the church’s collective responsibility and contribution to creating an anti-Semitic discourse before, during and after the Holocaust.

Candles shaped as the star of david at the ceremony marking the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoa), at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. Jerusalem, May 2, 2019. Photo by Avigail Eyal/TPS

he representatives submitted to Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands Naor Gilon and to the Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs a “confession of guilt” in which the church admits to its negligence in not doing enough to help the Jews of the Netherlands.

They also apologized for the fact that the admission comes years late, 75 years after the Holocaust.

The confession acknowledges the church’s responsibility for not making their voices heard during the rise of anti-Semitism in the years leading up to the war and during the Nazi occupation, which eventually led to the deportation and extermination of almost all Dutch Jewry.

The representatives added at the meeting that they are committed to learning from the lessons of the past and teaching future generations.

Ambassador Gilon thanked the delegates for the important gesture, adding that he views this “recognition and acknowledgment of responsibility as part of a significant process that the Netherlands is going through. This announcement is another important and significant step in taking collective responsibility and a message to present and future Dutch society.”

Over the past year, 75 years after the Holocaust, a number of important statements have been made by Dutch leaders.

Last January, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at a memorial service in Amsterdam that “almost nothing was done by government agencies or elected officials to protect the country’s Jewish citizens during World War II” and thus apologized on behalf of the Dutch government for the first time for Holland’s role in the Holocaust.

King William of the Netherlands made an unprecedented statement in May during his annual speech at the Amsterdam National Memorial acknowledging the royal house’s indifference to Dutch Jewry during the war and that they could have done more to help and protect it.

Last weekend, at a ceremony marking the 82nd Kristallnacht anniversary in Amsterdam, the Protestant Church in the Netherlands acknowledged the church’s silence during the Holocaust and noted that anti-Semitism is a sin against God.

During the meeting with Gilon, a spokesman for the Protestant Church noted that unfortunately, Christian theology contributed greatly to the anti-Semitic discourse that eventually led to the Holocaust and therefore asked on behalf of the churches that are members to apologize for their sins.

“The Protestant Church in the Netherlands wants to recognize without hesitation that the church has helped prepare the breeding ground in which the seeds of anti-Semitism and hatred could grow,” a statement by the church said.

“Even during the war years themselves, the ecclesiastical authorities often lacked the courage to choose a position for the Jewish inhabitants of our country. This is despite the acts of incredible personal courage that, thank God, were also performed by members of the churches,” it added.

“In recognition of all this, the church confesses guilt. Today especially towards the Jewish community. Because anti-Semitism is a sin against God and against people. The Protestant Church is also part of this guilty history,” the church stated.


3 Responses to “Reformed Protestant church in the Netherlands acknowledges responsibility for Holocaust”
  1. Eddy Boas says:

    You maybe interested in the hereunder letter of reply from Dutch PM Rutte to myself
    It took the Dutch government 75 years to apologise, every other Western European country had already apologised.
    For many years I undertook a campaign “All I want is an Apology before I die” though Dutch press.
    In 2017 I had dinner through a mutual acquaintance, with a Personal friend of Mr Rutte. I had just published my book. After reading my book he wrote to me offering to deliver, in person a letter from me to Mr Rutte. This was done in early 2018. According to my acquaintance my letter contributed to Mr. Rutte making an apology on 26 January 2020. a Dear mr. Boas,
    c/o mr. ……………. and …………..

    Recently your letter was passed on to me by mr. ………and ……………
    Your personal experiences relating to the second world war and those of your parents, brother and other relatives, are deeply touching. They demonstrate that our present time and the future are and will remain deeply influenced by the events of the second world war. In speeches I have drawn attention to the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust and its origins, including combatting antisemitism in our times.
    More specifically you have pointed out several flaws and shortcomings on the Dutch side, including some directly relating to you and your family. The Dutch government and local government in Amsterdam, The Hague and other places have at different times, on different occasions and within different contexts seriously tried to find answers and words and provide funds to compensate.
    It was sad to learn that belated post-war efforts to come to terms with the legacy of wartimes contributed to your concerns and pain. I sincerely wish to make clear to you this was not intended and is to be deeply regretted. Your personal history as a survivor has impressed me and I thank you for sharing this and bringing it to my attention.

    De Minister-President,
    Minister van Algemene Zaken

    Mark Rutte

  2. Dr. Rodney Gouttman says:

    What is the quid pro quo expected. Is this acknowledgement a recognition they are slow learners or a pragmatic push?

    • Lynne Newington says:

      I’m more or less inclined to reflect on long awaited apologies from Rome….
      Not-with-standing it took decades [1948-1993] to finally accept Israel as a nation, Nostra Aetate in 1965 where you were bundled up with other religions out of political acuteness [the word Holocaust wasn’t even mentioned] and antisemitism in Argentina suffering through a dictatorship they supported to the extent of choosing bishops who wouldn’t rock the boat…..
      The Netherlands never had a good example to live up to considering the worldwide power and influence the church and with the soon to be fresh pressure for the sainthood of Pius…..

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