Dutch remember Jewish psychiatric patients murdered by Nazis
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Dutch remember Jewish psychiatric patients murdered by Nazis

Ceremony at Parnassia hospital takes place ahead of 75th anniversary of deportations from institution, which to many encapsulated heights of Nazi cruelty

Illustrative: Thousands of stones with Stars of David on them memorialize 100,000 Jews who came through the Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands on their way to Nazi death camps (Vanrijnr/Wikimedia Commons)
Illustrative: Thousands of stones with Stars of David on them memorialize 100,000 Jews who came through the Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands on their way to Nazi death camps (Vanrijnr/Wikimedia Commons)

AMSTERDAM – Hundreds of people attended the unveiling of a monument commemorating 251 Jews who were sent to be murdered from a psychiatric hospital in The Hague.

The ceremony last week at the Parnassia hospital in The Hague took place days before the 75th anniversary of the deportations from that institution, which to many encapsulated the heights of cruelty by the Nazi occupation forces in the Netherlands along with their collaborators.

A memorial wall featuring a relief of a menorah was unveiled at the spot where the Nazis in 1942 rounded up patients of what was then the Rosenburg psychiatric institution, the hospital’s previous name. According to newly completed research, dozens of Jews hid in the institution and pretended to be patients in the hope that the Germans would spare them. There were also several legitimate Jewish patients hospitalized there.

But on December 31, 1942, all the Jews hiding at the institution were rounded up, sent to the Westerbork transit camp and from there on to death camps in Poland. Of the 251 deported, 227 were murdered.

Ronny Naftaniel, a founder of the Hague Jewish Heritage group and one of the initiators of the construction of the monument, said the heartlessness on display at the Rosenburg psychiatric institution was typical of the relentless persecution that ended with the murder of 75 percent of 140,000 Dutch Jews – the highest death rate of any Nazi-occupied country in Western Europe.

“The dreadful fate of the patients and asylum seekers [here] reminds me of the stories my mother told of Apeldoornsche Bosch – an institution for Jewish psychiatric patients, where she had worked as a nurse,” Naftaniel said in a speech he delivered at the unveiling. “She saw how the Nazis on the night of January 21 took the 50 staff and 1,200 patients out of their beds and placed them on an Auschwitz-bound train, which arrived two days later. Some of them had died of exhaustion, stress and thirst. Those who survived the journey were sent to the gas chambers.”

Separately, The Hague municipality began advertising in the media its project of repaying taxes it unjustly levied on Holocaust survivors.

After World War II, Dutch local authorities, including in Amsterdam and The Hague, slapped penalties and fines on residents who were in arrears with property tax payments even when those residents missed payments because they had been in concentration camps or in hiding. Their appeals were largely dismissed. An archivist discovered the practice in Amsterdam in 2013. Research was subsequently conducted in The Hague.

Unlike in Amsterdam, where the city decided to transfer $11 million to a nongovernmental organization that would distribute the money among organizations working for Jewish causes, the executive board of the municipality in The Hague recommended the city return $2.75 million to claimants — presumably descendants of survivors. The board determined those monies were “immorally” levied from their ancestors after the war.

The ads will appear in the media in Israel, Belgium, the United States and the United Kingdom, Omroep West reported last month.

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