Dutch Jews have expressed disappointment after the Netherlands’ state-owned railways said that it would donate €5 million to Holocaust memorials around the country.
Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) said that the donation, would go towards four Dutch Holocaust institutions, including former concentration camps at Westerbork, Vught and Amersfoort.
Dutch Jews, however, said that the decision had been taken without consulting victims’ representatives and that compensation had not been made available to the surviving family members of those transported to their deaths on trains owned and operated by NS.
In 2019, the NS pledged that it would provide more than €40 million in compensation to survivors and their children of those transported on Dutch trains.
In the same year, a NS commission issued a report calling on the railways to consider a “collective expression of recognition” to survivors’ and victims for its role in the Holocaust.
Over 75 per cent of Dutch Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, many on trains operated by NS. It is thought that NS sent 102,000 Jews to their deaths.
In a statement that outlined the donations to memorial projects and the compensation that it has already offered, the NS said: “NS considers cooperation with these deportations by the occupying forces to be a black page in the history of the company.”
The World Jewish Restitution Organisation, the Central Board of Dutch Jews and the Association for the Promotion of the Victims of Persecution have represented the interests of survivors and surviving families of those murdered.
The President of the Central Board of Dutch Jews, Edo Verdoner, urged NS to reconsider, saying: “Instead of working together with the Jewish community to acknowledge the past and provide a ‘collective expression of recognition’, NS has chosen once again to act with disregard to the Jewish community that was devastated by NS’ actions during the Holocaust.”
Flory Neter, the Chair of the Association for the Promotion of Victims of Persecution said: “It is not appropriate for the total of approximately 5,000 survivors and their children to be paid approximately €40m, and the 102,000 who perished to be marginalised in this way.”
“Seventy-five years after the Jewish community in the Netherlands was devastated in part through the actions of NS,” she added, “a new amount of salt has been added to the wounds.”