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Holocaust Memorial 'Screams— Be Vigilant'

Dutch renew fight against anti-Semitism at unveiling
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 19, 2021 1:40 PM CDT
Holocaust Memorial 'Screams— Be Vigilant'
A woman touches one of the name stones Sunday at a new monument in Amsterdam's historic Jewish Quarter on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

(Newser) – King Willem-Alexander unveiled a new memorial in the heart of Amsterdam's historic Jewish Quarter on Sunday honoring more than 102,000 Dutch victims of the Holocaust, and the Dutch prime minister vowed that it would remind citizens today to be vigilant against anti-Semitism. Designed by Polish-Jewish architect Daniel Libeskind, the memorial is made up of brick walls, the AP reports, shaped to form four Hebrew letters spelling out a word that translates as "In Memory Of." Each brick is inscribed with the name, date of birth and age at death for 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.

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Jacques Grishaver, chairman of the Dutch Auschwitz Committee, officially opened the monument with the king before dignitaries and Holocaust survivors. After walking through the gates, each picked up a white stone and placed it in front of a commemorative wall, a Jewish tradition when visiting graves. The king helped Grishaver to pick up and put down his stone. After the ceremony, he spoke to three survivors of the Holocaust. Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte said 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 called "the cold reception for the small group who returned from hell after the war."

Rutte called the era "a black page in the history of our country" and said the monument also has an important message "in our time when anti-Semitism is never far away. The monument says—no, it screams—be vigilant." The memorial is close to a former concert hall where Jews rounded up by Amsterdam's wartime Nazi occupiers were held before being sent to the camps. It was paid for in part by crowdfunding—84,000 people paid $58 each to adopt a brick. Rutte said the monument has a vital message. "This name monument says 102,163 times: ‘No, we will not forget you. No, we won’t accept that your name is erased. No, evil does not have the last word,'" he said. "Every one of them was somebody, and today they get back their names."

(Read more Holocaust stories.)

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