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Dutch chief rabbi says ‘no need’ for churches’ mea culpa over Holocaust inaction

In admission of guilt, Protestant Church says it ‘failed in speaking out and in keeping silent’ during WW2 and ‘prepared the soil where the seed of anti-Semitism could grow’

Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs at Westerbork Memorial Center, May 14, 2017. (Cnaan Liphshiz)
Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs at Westerbork Memorial Center, May 14, 2017. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (JTA) — Six Dutch churches issued what they called an acknowledgement of guilt for not having done more to save Jews or protest their murder during the Holocaust.

But Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs told the CIP news site that while he “appreciates” the gesture from the Protestant Church of the Netherlands and five other church bodies, it’s also unnecessary. “Children needn’t profess their parents’ guilt or take responsibility for it,” Jacobs said.

“We failed in speaking out and in keeping silent, in deeds and in action, in attitude and thoughts,” said a statement Wednesday from the Protestant Church of the Netherlands, the second-largest church in the country with 1.6 million member. The statement also said the church wishes to “acknowledge unequivocally that the church prepared the soil where the seed of anti-Semitism could grow,” Reformatorisch Dagblad reported.

That sentiment was echoed in a separate statement by five other Protestant Churches: the Christian Reformed Churches, Reformed Association in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated), Netherlands Reformed Churches and the Restored Reformed Church.

Some 15 percent of the Dutch population or around 2.5 million people are protestant according to the government’s Central Statistics Bureau (CBS).

The statements came ahead of the November 9 anniversary of the 1938 Kristallnacht pogroms.

Three-quarters of Dutch Jewry died in the Holocaust, the highest death rate in occupied Western Europe. Many citizens as well as the Dutch police and railways actively conspired with their Nazi overlords to round up Jews and deport them to death camps during WWII.

This included the diarist Anne Frank, who was arrested in 1944 after two years in hiding and sent Germany where she died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp aged 15, just before the end of the war.

The churches’ admission follows a first-ever official apology for the Dutch government’s wartime persecution of Jews, made earlier this year by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Former prime minister Wim Kok apologized in 2000 for the “icy welcome” Nazi camp survivors received on their return to the Netherlands, which the Nazis occupied from 1940-1945.

Times of Israel and AFP contributed to this report.

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