Amsterdam to rename hall honoring Nazi collaborator

Amsterdam to rename hall honoring Nazi collaborator

Piet Mijksenaar, a former top city official, gave ‘enthusiastic help with the deportation of Jews,’ watchdog says

The imposing Hollandsche Schouwburg, or Dutch Theater, served as a gathering point during the Nazi roundup of Amsterdam's Jews. (Matt Lebovic)
The imposing Hollandsche Schouwburg, or Dutch Theater, served as a gathering point during the Nazi roundup of Amsterdam's Jews. (Matt Lebovic)

AMSTERDAM — A municipal hall in Amsterdam that for 30 years bore the name of a former city official who helped deport Jews to their deaths will be renamed, the mayor of the Dutch capital said.

Mayor Eberhard van der Laan’s decision this week followed a call by the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, to remove Piet Mijksenaar’s name from the conference hall.

An internal probe found that Mijksenaar, a senior city official during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, showed that he had “devised a smarter, faster way of declaring assets seized by the confiscation bank Lippmann & Rosenthal,” van der Laan wrote in a reply to a query by council members seeking an update on the probe. Lippmann & Rosenthal was a Jewish-owned bank that the Nazis tasked with carrying out the theft of property owned by Jews.

The request by CIDI, a watchdog on anti-Semitism, that the city rename the conference hall followed the publication of a book by a historian about the Asterdorp Ghetto in Amsterdam’s north detailing Mijksenaar’s “enthusiastic help with the deportation of Jews, and that he strived to make this process rapid and efficient,” CIDI said in a statement.

According to the Het Parool daily, Mijksenaar also helped save two Jews from the Hollandsche Schouwburg, an Amsterdam theater house that Nazi occupation forces turned into transit camp for Jews. But his record of collaboration with the Nazi occupation had remained obscure.

Separately, the city of Dordrecht in the south of Holland said it will look into complaints that its main museum about World War II blurs the distinction between victims and perpetrators. A local resident complained that in a section of the museum, soldiers who fought for Nazi Germany are commemorated alongside Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.

The resident, Edjo Frank, wrote the city to complain about it, the Jonet news site reported Tuesday.

While common in Eastern and Central Europe, the veneration of Nazi collaborators is relatively rare in the Netherlands.

Last year Allseas, a shipping giant that built a large vessel and named it for the late SS officer Pieter Schelte, agreed to change the ship’s name following years of campaigning by anti-fascist activists, including CIDI.

The book detailing Mijksenaar’s collaboration, “Asterdorp” by Stephan Steinmetz, also revealed that Amsterdam hiked rent prices for Jews after they had been confined to ghettos built on city-owned property.

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