AMSTERDAM — King Willem-Alexander officially unveils a new memorial in the heart of Amsterdam’s historic Jewish Quarter honoring more than 102,000 Dutch victims of the Holocaust, and the Dutch prime minister vows that it will remind citizens today to be vigilant against antisemitism.
Designed by Polish-Jewish architect Daniel Libeskind, the memorial is made up of walls shaped to form four Hebrew letters spelling out a word that translates as “In Memory Of.”
The walls are built using bricks, each of which is inscribed with the name, date of birth and age when they died of one of the more than 102,000 Jews, Roma and Sinti who were murdered in Nazi concentration camps during World War II or who died on their way to the camps.
Jacques Grishaver, chairman of the Dutch Auschwitz Committee, officially opens the monument with the king in the presence of dignitaries and Holocaust survivors. After walking through the gates, each pick up a white stone and placed it in front of a commemorative wall, a Jewish tradition when visiting graves.
The king helps Grishaver to pick up and put down his stone. After the ceremony, he speaks to three survivors of the Holocaust.
Dutch caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the monument also should force people to confront the question of whether the Netherlands did enough to protect Jews during the war and what he calls “the cold reception for the small group who returned from hell after the war.”
He calls the era “a black page in the history of our country” and says the monument also has an important contemporary message “in our time when antisemitism is never far away. The monument says — no, it screams — be vigilant.”