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Amsterdam tram company won’t punish conductor accused of anti-Semitism

JTA

August 22, 2012 | 10:30 am

GVB in Amsterdam.

GVB in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam’s transport company, GVB, announced it would not punish an employee accused of making an anti-Semitic remark.

Two people told the Jewish Community of Amsterdam, NIHS, that they had heard a tram conductor aboard Line 17 say on Aug. 8 that the Anne Frank House was how “the Jews make money.”

The conductor and the driver deny this. According to reports, the conductor’s remark was made on the tram’s intercom in response to a question from the driver. As the tram neared the Anne Frank House, the driver reportedly said: “What are all these people doing here? That woman is long dead.”

Anne Frank was a Jewish teenage diarist who hid during World War II in a house in Amsterdam before she was deported to Auschwitz. She later died in Bergen-Belsen.

Last year the museum attracted more than one million visitors. The GVB company will, however, teach personnel more about Anne Frank’s history, according to an announcement on the GVB website.

Bas van ‘t Wout, a member of Amsterdam’s city council, called GVB’s decision “a sorry conclusion.” Van ‘t Wout, a former aide to Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has convened a city hall debate next month on the incident.

GVB also announced it had removed the historically loaded digit 8 from the devices that indicate the numbers of tram lines. The decision was made after a tram with the number 8 was seen riding around in Amsterdam on May 4, the Dutch Memorial Day. The deportation of thousands of Amsterdam Jews began on Line 8 streetcars.

The Jews would ride the trams to Central Station where trains transported them to concentration camps. Amsterdam’s municipal transport company scrapped the number 8 from its list of active lines out of consideration for Holocaust survivors’ feelings.

Amsterdam had a Jewish population of some 80,000 people before the start of World War II, according to the 4 and 5 May Committee, the national commemoration authority. The last mass deportation occurred in October 1943. Between 41,000 and 45,000 Jews live in the whole of the Netherlands today, according to the European Jewish Congress.

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