October 29, 2012
Dutch church official apologizes for commemoration of German soldiers
A Netherlands church official apologized to a Jewish group for a memorial ceremony that commemorated Holocaust victims with soldiers who died fighting for Nazi Germany.
Rob Mutsaerts, a bishop from Den Bosch in the southern Netherlands, in a letter last week expressed his regret to the small Jewish organization JFN.
Mutsaerts apologized for a sermon delivered Oct. 20 in a church in nearby Geffen in which Pastor David van Dijk read out the names of German soldiers who died in Geffen during World War II along with the names of local Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.
“You are shocked, and those are feelings we cannot change,” Mutsaerts wrote . “We would like to extend our apologies for the pain and sorrow that the naming of all the names has unintentionally caused to Jews.”
Van Dijk’s sermon was delivered after city officials canceled the planned unveiling of a monument in Geffen displaying the names of the German Wehrmacht soldiers along with the Holocaust victims. All the names were removed from the monument following protests by Jewish organizations and individuals.
A Dutch rabbi, Wim van Dijk, demanded that the names of his relatives be removed from the monument.
The pastor read the names jointly in church as a sign of “reconciliation” shortly after the unveiling of the monument without the names.