King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands admitted that his great-grandmother was apparently indifferent to the plight of Dutch Jews during the Holocaust in a memorial day speech on Monday, a Jewish Telegraphic Agency report said.
“Fellow human beings felt abandoned, insufficiently heard, insufficiently supported, even with words,” Willem-Alexander said at the ceremony. “Also from London by my great-grandmother, despite her steadfast resistance [to the Nazis.] It’s something that won’t let go of me,”
The king’s acknowledgment, which is unprecedented, came during his annual speech on Monday at the national memorial ceremony in Amsterdam for Dutch war victims during and since World War II.
The king’s great-grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina, reigned over the Netherlands from 1890 until 1948, when she abdicated the throne in favor of her daughter Juliana due to ill health.
After the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Wilhelmina and her family fled to the United Kingdom, where she led the Dutch government in exile. Although she delivered speeches to the Dutch people on the radio 48 times while in exile, she only mentioned the persecution of Jews three times in passing. Meanwhile, 75% of the Jewish community in the Netherlands (140,000 Jews) were brutally murdered, the highest death rate in Nazi-occupied Western Europe.
According to Israeli author Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, the queen’s omission was not an oversight, quoting Dutch journalist Hans Knoop to prove his point: “The Dutch queen regularly filtered out mention of what was happening to Dutch Jewry from the speeches prepared by her speechwriter, while she spent the war safely in London.”
The Dutch people themselves had a large contingent who joined the resistance movement to the Nazis and many participated in hiding Jews or saving them in other ways.
The Netherlands had 5,778 citizens who were named as the Righteous Among the Nations, the second-highest number after Poland, which had 6,992 citizens named as Righteous Among the Nations amidst a country of 3.3 million Jews.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)