Only 35,000 of the country’s Jewish population of 140,000 survived the war and 102,000 of the 107,000 who were deported to death camps were killed.
While there was some resistance within government, ‘‘too many Dutch officials carried out what the occupiers demanded of them,’’ Mark Rutte declared.
AMSTERDAM—In a speech during the national Holocaust Memorial Day in Amsterdam on Sunday, Dutch Prime minister Mark Rutte apologised for the actions of the country’s government during World War II.
‘’Now that the last survivors are still among us, I apologise today on behalf of the government for what the government did back then,’’ he said.
It is because so few survivors are still alive that ‘’we must fully acknowledge what happened at the time,’’ Rutte said, speaking at the ‘’Nooit meer’’ (Never again) Auschwitz memorial in Amsterdam’s Wertheim park.
‘’When a group of countrymen were set aside, excluded and dehumanised under a murderous regime, we failed,’’ the Prime Minister said.
Only 35,000 of the country’s Jewish population of 140,000 survived the war and 102,000 of the 107,000 who were deported to death camps were killed. Those who returned found their houses and possession had been taken, and many were presented with bills for unpaid taxes and ground rent for their homes, scandals which are only now finally being dealt with.
While there was some resistance within government, ‘‘too many Dutch officials carried out what the occupiers demanded of them,’’ Rutte declared.
‘’No word can express something as big and horrific as the Holocaust,’’ he said, adding: ‘’It is up to us, the post-war generations, to continue to commemorate, to honour the dead by name.’’
The Prime minister’s apology has been welcomed by Jewish groups and survivors. In 2012, Rutte said the cabinet saw no reason to apologise for the Dutch government’s attitude to Jews during World War II.
In 2018, Dutch state-owned railway firm NS said it would pay compensation to survivors and family members of people it transported to death camps. NS earned large amounts of money from the German occupiers by transporting Jews to Westerbork, the transit camp where people were kept before being deported to death camps in Germany and Poland.