Dutch religious groups seek WWII commemoration criteria

THE HAGUE (JTA) –Jewish, Muslim and Christian organizations in the Netherlands want authorities to set clear criteria for World War II commemorations in the wake of incidents that jointly commemorated Jewish victims and German soldiers.

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The guidelines are necessary in light of a recent string of incidents which showed “obfuscation of the difference between victim and perpetrator,” the Organization of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands wrote in a letter to the May 4 and 5 Committee, the country’s official authority for commemorating World War II.

The letter, which was sent this week, was cosigned by the CMO, the country’s umbrella organization of Muslim communities, and the Dutch Council of Churches.

The most recent incident was in the town of Geffen, where the municipality 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.

A similar ceremony was held in the town of Vorden, shortly after the May 4 and 5 Committee changed the program for the country’s main memorial service in Amsterdam so as not include the recitation of poem which portrayed a Dutch Nazi SS soldier as a victim of World War II.

The letter proposes five criteria for victims to be commemorated at official ceremonies organized by the committee: Dutch nationals; victims of genocide; people who died in Nazi and Japanese concentration camps or as resistance fighters; soldiers killed while fighting for the Netherlands; Dutch civilians who were casualties of acts of aggression.

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