On The Condemned!
Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, made a historic move on February 2, as he apologised to the family members of victims for his country’s role in Holocaust. He admitted that the Government of the Nazi-occupied Netherlands had failed to prevent the deportation and murder of just over 100,000 Jews during the Second World War…
Speaking at the Annual Holocaust Commemoration in Amsterdam on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, Rutte said: “Now, the last survivors are still among us, I apologise today on behalf of the Government for the authorities’ actions at the time.” He also said it was unfortunate that the Dutch Government had failed to protect the Jews, as some Government officials blindly followed the instructions of the Nazis. The PM further apologised for taking 75 years to offer an apology, stating: “Too little protection. Too little help. Too little recognition.”
In 2019, the Dutch National Railway announced that it would pay reparations to Jews, Roma and Sinti who were transported by it to Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. The company had apologised for its role in the transportation way back in 2005. It is to be noted that thousands of Jews were sent to Transit Camps in the Netherlands by the Nazi Germans before deporting them to Death Camps, like Auschwitz. Those, who had travelled to Nazi death camps via the Dutch National Railway service, never returned to their homes. Anne Frank, too, stayed in one of such Transit Camps in the Netherlands. While apologising to relatives of the victims for transporting the latter to death camps in 2005, the railway officials had placed roses on tracks on which those trains used to run under the supervision of the Germans. The French Railway Company, too, had apologised for the injustice done to the Jews in the past.
There was a Neutrality Agreement between the Netherlands and Germany at the initial stage of the Second World War. Germany violated the accord in 1940 by bombarding the Netherlands, and taking control of the country! The Netherlands was not strong enough to counter the Germans. The Royal Family left the country immediately after the Nazis invaded the northwestern European nation. The Government was in no situation to think about the future of the common people, especially the Jews. Interestingly, the Nazis did not torture the common people, first. They adopted the Velvet Glove policy, appointing a non-military ruler to rule the country for one year. Adolf Hitler used to consider the Dutch people as ‘Nazi Brothers‘!
A woman prays at the ‘Auschwitz Never Again’ Monument after the National Holocaust Commoration in Amsterdam on January 26, 2020.
Slowly, the Germans introduced anti-Jewish laws, and started taking ‘actions‘ against the Jews. The Dutch people were against this move, as they staged protests across the country. However, their protests failed to prevent the Nazis from sending Jews to the Concentration Camps. Before the Second World War, the number of Dutch Jews was 1.5 million. Unfortunately, their number came down to only 38,000 at the end of the war! Similar things happened in France and Belgium. It is not possible for the Global Community to change this history. Now, the question is: How do the modern people consider these events? Many unfortunate events had taken place in the past… would there be any end to apologies for those events? Is it necessary for a State to seek apology for committing crimes in the past?
In fact, all these examples of tendering apologies are merely symbolic… still, one should appreciate these honest emotions. It is crucial for us to openly acknowledge and express regret for our past mistakes and to make an attempt to rectify them. It might be possible to change the course of History in this way…
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