Amsterdam tram company probes staff’s alleged anti-Semitic comments

Amsterdam tram company probes staff’s alleged anti-Semitic comments

Passenger reported tram conductor said 'the Jews have to make a living somehow' as the vehicle neared the Anne Frank House

JTA — Amsterdam’s municipal transport company, GVB, distanced itself from alleged anti-Semitic statements by two tram employees, but said it wanted to hear “the other side.”

GVB learned from media reports that a tram driver and a conductor had been heard making anti-Semitic statements Aug. 6 near the Anne Frank House, an announcement made Wednesday on the company’s website said. Their conversation reportedly was heard on the tram’s intercom system.

A passenger reported to GVB that the tram conductor had said that “the Jews have to make a living somehow” as the vehicle neared the Anne Frank House, the news site of the public broadcaster NOS reported.

The Anne Frank House, the hiding place of the famous teenage Jewish diarist murdered in the Holocaust, is one of Amsterdam’s busiest tourist attractions. In 2011 alone it attracted a record 1,104,233 visitors, according to the website of the Anne Frank Museum, located at the house. Children enter for free but adults pay $11 per person.

The conductor was reportedly answering the driver’s question: “What are these people doing here? That woman died a long time ago.”

“GVB does not approve of any such statements and has immediately begun an investigation into this incident. GVB considers this extremely serious and at the same time also wants to hear the other side from its staff,” the GVB online announcement read.

In parallel, GVB is investigating a separate incident involving Amsterdam’s Holocaust-era history.

GVB said it would investigate why on May 4, the national Dutch Memorial Day, a streetcar was seen carrying the historically charged number 8 as its line number.

The deportation of thousands of Amsterdam Jews began on Line 8 streetcars. The Jews would ride the trams to Central Station where trains transported them to concentration camps.

Amsterdam’s municipal transport company scrapped the number 8 from its list of active lines out of consideration for Holocaust survivors’ feelings.

Amsterdam had a Jewish population of some 80,000 people before the start of World War II, according to the 4 and 5 May Committee, the national commemoration authority. The last mass deportation occurred in October 1943. Between 41,000 and 45,000 Jews live in the whole of the Netherlands today, according to the European Jewish Congress.

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