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In the news: Dutch royal family, still no apoligies to Dutch Jews!

Revised: 24-3-2012

The Dutch government currently having Queen Beatrix as Head of State, has never apologized for the ill -treatment by the Dutch royal family and by the government of the Dutch Jews during the Second World War. Living in the Netherlands, the city of Apeldoorn, I do wonder, why is this taking so long?

The Dutch Queen Wilhelmina at the time of the war considered the Dutch Jews as ...

... a minority group within the Dutch society but not as real Dutch people - even though they were part of Dutch society for centuries - for whom she should have advocated for their safety. 

Queen Wilhelmina and her family fled the Netherlands in May 1940, and found refuge in England during the war. Now after decades it's clear that the plans for her to leave the country strangely enough were already made a year before as later released English official documents show. So, they didn't leave in a haste. Neither did all the members of the Dutch Parliament whom also left with her. So, the Dutch government, for what ever reason was already prepared for the occupation of the Nazis. But, why not ready enough to prevent - in the mean time they were turning down the Jews seeking refuge in the Netherlands - so many Dutch Jews from being deported to the concentration death camps?

During the queen's stay in London she addressed the Dutch people in the Netherlands through Radio Oranje (Radio Orange). In her broadcasts there was no comforting words for the Dutch Jews and certainly no encouragements mentioned to her subjects on their treatment of their fellow Dutch citizens, them being the Jews. In fact she hardly touched this subject, and neither were there visible instructions to the Dutch government in those days about the way they should treat the Jews giving the circumstances.

It took more than a year and a half for the queen and her officials in London to request information about the where abouts and the faith of the Dutch Jews whom were deported to Poland, considering the fact that her officials and those of Poland were sharing the same office building in London. They were not interested, not even about the Dutch Jews whom were deported also from the city of Apeldoorn where the Dutch royal family lived in the Het Loo Palace, which was the residence of the House of Orange-Nassau from the 17th century until the death of Queen Wilhelmina in 1962. She was queen of the Netherlands from 1890 to 1948. To this day the influence of the Dutch royal family is still present in the city of Apeldoorn for princess Margriet, a sister of Queen Beatrix, still lives there.

Ultimately the Jews deported to the concentration camps was about 75% of the Jewish population in the Netherlands. On percentage the highest of any country in Europe. How could this be in a country like the Netherlands? Still, the Dutch royals, the government and the Dutch society as a whole took up the role of being the victim of Nazi Germany and being active in the resistance, while having less to do with the collaboration to exterminate the Dutch Jews. Except, the Dutch who didn't buy this idea.

People like Han Lammers who wrote an article titled "Tot in het zoveelste geslacht", about the Dutch attitude towards the Dutch Jews in De Gids in 1965. In his view the fascistic ideology propagated by the Nazis at the time was popular with the Dutch elite including the Dutch royals. And Antisemitism was wide spread on all levels of the Dutch society in those days. In other words, more members of the Dutch society and not only those branded as collaborators, were also responsible for what happened to the Dutch Jews. He met with much criticism, and so did others after him.

In 1997 the historian Nanda van der Zee was even more criticized for the publication of her book "Om erger te voorkomen" (To prevent worse). In her book based on her own research she stated that Queen Wilhelmina and the complete parliament leaving the Netherlands gave way to the Nazis to have a strong grip on the civil and judicial institutions of the country. Which in turn led to the massive recorded deportation of the Dutch Jews. Those including historians who wanted to keep the myth of the helpless Dutch whom became a victim of the Nazis criticized Van der Zee's book vigorously. But Doesn't the neglect of the Dutch Jews and the lack of a formal apology to them by the Dutch royals and government up to now assert the findings of Van der Zee's research?

For someone who holds the moral obligation as a queen and Head of State on this aspect of her role - queen Wilhelmina was considered as an inspiration to the Dutch resistance - she failed miserably, just as her government in exile at the time failed in dealing with the situation of the Dutch Jews properly. Certainly after the war she could have given a formal apology for this, but still she nor any of the queens following her has ever advocated that such an apology should be given publicly for all to see and hear. Neither did she show any visible effort in preventing the few Jews whom returned to Apeldoorn, where she still lived in Het Loo Palace, from leaving and the Jewish Institutions in the city from gradually being closed! The process of the few Jews in this city leaving is still on going.

In 1995 Queen Beatrix did visit Israel where she spoke in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. In her speech she did address what happened to the Jews in the Netherlands during the Second World War but she didn't mention queen Wilhelmina's and her government's attitude and role at the time concerning the Dutch Jews. And she certainly didn't issue a formal, official apology. So, she went to Israel and chose to remain silent. To this day Queen Beatrix, member of the same royal house as Queen Wilhelmina, as Head of State of the Netherlands and having a moral obligation to all Dutch people has never touched this subject. Such is their indifference to put it mildly, concerning their ill treatment of the Dutch Jews just before, during and shortly after the period of the Second World War. How ungraceful!

It was in 2000 that the Dutch government under the leadership of Prime Minister Kok negotiated an arrangement with the Central Joods Overleg representing the Jewish people for compensation of all their property and valuables that were stolen from them during the war. The issue of the government giving a formal apology on behave of the Dutch royal family and the government to the Jewish people didn't come up, although the prime minister did mention that the theft of Jewish valuables was regretful. And in 2005 the Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende did speak about those who collaborated with the Nazis during the war but failed to apologize for the Dutch royal family and government's actions or there for the lack of it on behalf of the Dutch Jews. So, again no Mea Culpa! Personally I forgive these people, including the members of the royal House of Orange-Nassau, their indifference in this respect towards the Jewish people.  

One would think that for the Dutch royal family, whom consider themselves to be Christians, to issue a formal apology concerning their own and their government's lack of support to the Dutch Jews in the past, would be the true way of showing that they actually really care for the Jewish people. How much longer will this take?

The Head of State of other European countries including Germany already went down this pad all the way to the Knesset in Israel, and they chose not to remain silent!

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Author: © Mrs A. vd Laan-LeitoPosted in: Was in the News