Planned commemoration at Dutch graveyard stirs controversy - World Jewish Congress

Planned commemoration at Dutch graveyard stirs controversy

Planned commemoration at Dutch graveyard stirs controversy

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Germany’s ambassador to the Netherlands is slated to attend a commemoration at a cemetery where many soldiers of the Nazi German 'Waffen SS' are buried.

Franz Josef Kremp is schduled to attend the commemoration next Sunday at the Ysselsteyn cemetery near Eindhoven, a burial place for victims of World War II. He is, according to a report by the Dutch newspaper 'De Telegraaf', aware that it contains the remains of Waffen SS soldiers.

Herman Loonstein, a Jewish activist against commemoration in the Netherlands of Nazis and soldiers who fought for Germany, told the paper: “I think this is an affront. Mr. Kremp should not be presenting SS soldiers as victims. Jews were the victims.”

A number of Dutch and German generals, as well as local politicians, are also slated to attend the memorial, which will be held next Sunday on the occasion of Memorial Day in Germany.

'De Telegraaf' reported that it had obtained a letter written by Kremp about the Ysselsteyn cemetery in which he wrote: “Among the dead resting here are German and Dutch war casualties, including Waffen SS.” The report did not say to whom the letter was addressed and in what context.

Of the 32,000 German war graves at Ysselsteyn, an estimated 3,000 are for fighters of the 'Waffen SS'', a Nazi elite unit whose men were responsible for the murder of countless Jews during the Holocaust.

In 1985, then US President Ronald Reagan stirred controversy when he paid a visit to a graveyard in Bitburg, Germany, which also contained the remains of 'Waffen SS' combatants.