Sunday, April 4th, was Memorial Day in the Netherlands. The memorial ceremonies in the Amsterdam neighborhood of De Baarsjes were heavily attended and passed smoothly, in contrast to the ceremony five years ago when a group of Moroccan youth called out 'we must kill the Jews', during the two minute silence.
Older passerbys were furious and lodged a complaint. In order to prevent such incidents neighborhood mayor Arco Verburg decided to change course, and to get everybody to participate. It was decided to have Moroccan youth responsible for the ceremonies.
With guidance from the neighborhood center, Moroccan youth annually go to Kapelle in Zeeland, to commemorate 19 Moroccan soldiers who died in the war fighting for Dutch freedom. The soldiers were serving in the French army against the German occupiers. The project was successful: and many Moroccan youth are becoming aware of the Second World War. This year 20 youth ages 10-17 went to Zeeland to visit the graves of the soldiers.
During the ceremony on Sunday they laid flowers next to the cross war monument ("Het Kruis"), together with representatives of the Jewish and Muslim community. In the upcoming week they would ensure that the wreaths stay undisturbed. Verburg says that because the youth guard the wreaths, they remain involved.
There are five war memorials in De Baarsjes. The fifth was unveiled on Sunday by Rabbi Menachem Evers and his wife Bloemers Evers, of Synagogue West. The memorial comes to commemorate four Jewish students of the 4th trade school in De Baarsjes (currently Het Sieraad), who were deported in 1941. Two died in a concentration camp, the fate of the other two is unknown.
Source: AD (Dutch)
See also: Netherlands: immigrants and Remembrance Day, Netherlands: Teaching the Holocaust