THE HAGUE (JTA) — The city of Vorden in the Netherlands will commemorate soldiers who died fighting for Nazi Germany as part of its official memorial ceremony.
Vorden Mayor Henk Aalderink said Tuesday in a radio interview that this year for the first time, the local commemoration procession will walk along the graves of some 10 German soldiers from World War II “and sing a song of reconciliation.”
Two German families whose relatives are buried in Vorden, a town near Arnhem, will attend the ceremony on Friday, the national Memorial Day.
Some 15 people have written to the municipality to request that the ceremony be canceled, the mayor said. Fred Ensel, chairman of the Dutch Jewish broadcasting network, called the plan “disrespectful.”
Last week, following a public outcry, the national commemoration committee scrapped a poem about Nazis from its program for the country’s main ceremony. The poem spoke of a Dutch SS soldier “who dreamed of a better life” and “sought to escape poverty.” He must also be remembered, the poem said.
“Over the past five years, perpetrators of WWII have attracted more attention than before,” according to Bart Wallet, a historian from the University of Amsterdam. “Ironically, some are beginning to regard them, too, as victims.”