Outrage over SS poem on memorial day

By Jessica Elgot, May 10, 2012
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A poem honouring a Dutch Waffen SS volunteer, which was to be read at the Dutch Second World War memorial event in Amsterdam, has been withdrawn after fierce opposition.

The poem, written by a 15-year-old boy about his uncle, was to be read at the commemoration last week in Dam Square, attended by the Dutch Royal Family.

The plan met fierce resistance from the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), which monitors antisemitism and anti-Zionism in Holland.

"A poem which says a Waffen SS 'just made the wrong choice' is absolutely not appropriate for memorial day," said CIDI's spokeswoman Esther Voet. "It was originally intended to be read at Westerbork, the camp where Jews were taken to be transported to concentration camps. And Westerbork, rightfully, refused to have it read there. Then the committee then decided that it should be part of the commemorations in Dam Square."

The poem, written by 15-year-old Auke de Leeuw, was the winner of a schools' poetry competition organised by the official May 4 and 5 committee.

On May 4, the Netherlands remembers those killed in the Second World War and other military conflicts, and celebrates its liberation by the Allies the following day. Mr de Leeuw's uncle volunteered to fight with the SS and was killed on the Eastern Front.

In a separate development, Jewish activist group Federatie Joods Nederland sued the council of Vorden, a town on the German border, which had planned a commemorative march past graves of German soldiers. The lawsuit was led by attorney Herman Loonstein, who said: "We consider this form of commemoration as an unlawful act against victims, dead and alive."

    Last updated: 4:22pm, May 10 2012