A Dutch right-wing senator on Tuesday said he regretted saying that Jews during the Holocaust were driven to gas chambers “like meek little lambs.”
Toine Beukering, who last week joined the Eerste Kamer — the upper chamber of the Dutch parliament — had made the assertion in an interview published Saturday by the Telegraaf daily.
But after the backlash, Beukering withdrew his statement on Tuesday, telling the newspaper: “That was a very awkward comment. I regret that and I take it back.”
A lawmaker for the Forum for Democracy Party, Beukering said that the Holocaust was one of the reasons he enlisted to the Netherlands’ armed forces.
“As a young child, I read a whole cabinet of books about the Holocaust. I was always interested in finding out how it was at all possible. That the Jews, such a courageous and combative people, were driven to the gas chambers just like meek little lambs. It has always fascinated me. I never really found an answer for it. But to me it did mean one thing: Never again. That’s why I wore a uniform for 40 years and have been all over the world,” Beukering said.
Pressed to explain his reference to lambs at the time, he said: “Well, there was little resistance by Jews. Escapes and such. There were many reasons for this, but it’s a sad story that should never be allowed to be repeated.” He added his assertion was not meant to offend, but that he stands by it.
On Facebook, Ronny Naftaniel, vice chairman of the Central Jewish Organization of Dutch Jews, had criticized Beukering for his original comment.
“Jews did mount considerable resistance. Often in hopeless situations. I would like to recommend first to read a book about the ghetto uprising in Warsaw, the uprising in Sobibor and the Jewish resistance in the Netherlands,” Naftaniel wrote. “‘meek lambs’ is a myth.”