Dutch Shoah museum drops claims that Jews threatened to kill its ex-director

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Dutch Shoah museum drops claims that Jews threatened to kill its ex-director

Decision by Memorial Centre Camp Westerbork not to complain to the police follows tensions with local Jewish leaders

Westerbork concentration camp
Westerbork concentration camp

A Dutch Holocaust museum decided not to complain to police about what its former director said were death threats by Jews over his support of Middle Eastern immigrants.

The decision last week by Memorial Centre Camp Westerbork followed a heated debate about politicisation of the Holocaust’s memory that leaders of Dutch Jewry said featured false accusations against their community by the museum’s former director, Dirk Mulder.

Mulder, who is not Jewish, claimed in April that anti-immigration activists and people from “the Jewish circle” had threatened to kill him over his plans to host an event highlighting the plight of people whom he considers refugees. Jewish community leaders protested the initiative, saying it falsely equates immigrants’ ordeals and the genocide.

The allegation about threats, which Mulder has not publicly retracted, angered some Dutch Jews who doubted its veracity and challenged him to back it up or take it back. Mulder, who has since retired, has not made public examples of alleged threats. Mulder’s successor, Gerdien Verschoor, told RTV Drenthe last week: “We want to focus on the future and leave this issue behind.”

In Westerbork, Nazi Germans held more than 100,000 Dutch Jews, who were rounded up with help from locals. Almost all victims were murdered in death and concentration camps further east.

In an August 17 interview with the Trouw newspaper,  Verschoor appeared to distance herself from “controversies” that she said have made some stakeholders view Westerbork “as no longer a safe place [for commemoration] and that’s deeply regrettable.”


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