SS soldiers’ names to be removed from Dutch Holocaust monument
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SS soldiers’ names to be removed from Dutch Holocaust monument

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — City officials from a Dutch municipality near The Hague said they would remove from its main monument for Jewish Holocaust victims the names of three SS soldiers also honored there.

The inclusion of the German soldiers’ names was discovered through research by the local Historical Association of Leidschendam-Voorburg, the Algemeen Dagblad daily reported Wednesday.

The monument, which also includes the name of a local criminal, was unveiled 10 years ago and contains approximately 400 names of Jewish Holocaust victims and some resistance fighters, the report said. Hubert Berkhout, a researcher for the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, told the daily that he has never encountered the inclusion of Nazis in recently constructed monuments.

“It occurs in monuments set up shortly after the war when there was not so much information,” he said.

Separately, a 10-foot tall monument for dozens of Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust was unveiled Thursday at a ceremony in the northern municipality of Laren. Consisting of blocks of metal arranged around a gap, the monument, which was unveiled in the presence of Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, is in memory of 48 children and four of their teachers.

In recent years, Dutch Jewish groups have protested what they described as an emerging trend in which commemorations are extended not only to the Allied forces’ casualties and Holocaust victims, but also to the German soldiers. Organizers of such events have justified them as promoting reconciliation.

In 2012, organizers of the national memorial ceremony in Amsterdam scrapped their plan amid protests to allow the 15-year-old relative of a Dutch SS soldier who died on Germany’s Eastern Front to read a poem in his memory at the event.

That year, a Dutch court issued an injunction forbidding the town of Vorden from commemorating German soldiers with Jewish Holocaust victims. And in the town of Geffen, the municipality also planned to unveil a monument listing the names of members of both groups. The plans were dropped following protests, but the names were read aloud in a church in that town.

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, the Jewish community’s watchdog on anti-Semitism, has warned that the practice blurs the line between victim and perpetrator.