King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands has, for the first time, publicly acknowledged that Queen Wilhelmina, his great-grandmother, failed to protect the country’s Jewish population from Nazi aggression throughout the Second World War. The Nazis had managed to kill 75% of the Netherlands Jews by the end of World War Two.
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At a memorial service in Amsterdam for Dutch victims of armed conflicts during and after the Second World War, King Willem-Alexander said, “Fellow human beings felt abandoned, insufficiently heard, insufficiently supported, even with words. Also from London by my great-grandmother despite her steadfast resistance to the Nazis. It’s something that won’t let go of me.

Queen Wilhelmina, while exiled in London, made 48 radio speeches to her nation and only mentioned the persecution of Jews just three times. This led many to believe she was indifferent to the Jewish community’s plight.

Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, apologised in January for his country’s wartime persecution of Jews. In a speech to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Rutte said, “Now the last survivors are still with us. I apologise today in the name of the Government for what the authorities did at that time.”

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima were commemorating the victims of war on Remembrance Day in the Netherlands. The commemorations took place in Dam Square which was largely empty aside from a few dignitaries. On the day after remembrance day, May 5th, the people of the Netherlands celebrate Liberation Day – the liberation of the nation from Nazi occupation from 1940-1945.

This year, the country is having to scale back celebrations owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

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