- Category: News
- Created on Friday, 04 May 2012 09:12
- Written by Amsterdam Herald
The decision by the mayor of Vorden to include the graves of German soldiers in the annual commemoration for the first time sparked angry exchanges and raised fears that it could attract far-right extremists to the village.
Federatief Joods Nederland (FJN), a Jewish rights group, is seeking an injunction against the local authority in Bronckhorst, which is responsible for Vorden. The village in Gelderland is about 30 kilometres from the German border.
Lawyer Herman Loonstein told NRC Handelsblad: ‘We view this kind of memorial as an injustice towards victims, dead and alive’.
Another organisation, Tradition is Our Future (TOF), issued a press release accusing Vorden of ‘tainting May 4 with the war crimes of Nazis’, and calling on the village not to commemorate ‘Moffen’ (a derogatory Dutch term for Germans).
TOF says it intends to stage a protest during the ceremony, which is expected to take the form of a banner flown from an airplane.
Vorden’s mayor, Henk Aalderink, said the police had received information via internet forums and social networking sites that neo-Nazis were planning to travel to the ceremony.
However, he defended the community’s action and insisted the ceremony would go ahead as planned.
‘I’m surprised by the lack of nuance in the reactions, particularly from the Jewish community,’ said Aalderink. ‘It seems we should have made it clear that this is a gesture of conciliation, not a memorial for Nazis.’
He has been supported by the May 4 committee, which said it was ‘high time after 67 years’ to recognise all victims of the conflict, including Dutch and German soldiers who died while fighting on the German side.
The May 4 ceremonies officially commemorate the victims of all wars, but are intimately connected with the Second World War and the Liberation Day celebrations on May 5, when the Netherlands marks the end of German occupation in 1945.
Last week a similar controversy surrounded the choice of a poem by a 15-year-old boy to be read out at the Remembrance Day parade in Amsterdam’s Dam Square.
The Dutch Auschwitz Committee threatened to boycott the ceremony unless the poem, Foute Keuze (Wrong Choice), which reflects on the experience of a Dutch SS officer, was withdrawn.