Amsterdam to rename city space honouring official who robbed Holocaust victims

AMSTERDAM (JTA) – A municipal hall bearing the name of a former city official who helped deport Jews to their deaths will be renamed, the mayor of the Dutch capital said.

Mayor Eberhard van der Laan’s decision this week about the conference hall named after Piet Mijksenaar followed a call last year by the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, to scrap the honor that the city had conferred on Mijksenaar more than 30 years ago.

An internal probe into the actions of Mijksenaar, a senior city official during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, showed that he had “devised a smarter, faster way of declaring assets seized by the confiscation bank Lippmann & Rosenthal,” van der Laan wrote in a reply to a query by council members seeking an update on the probe. Lippmann & Rosenthal was a Jewish-owned bank that the Nazis tasked with carrying out the theft of property owned by Jews.

The demand by CIDI, a watchdog on anti-Semitism, that the city rename the conference hall followed the publication last month of a historian’s book about the Asterdorp Ghetto in Amsterdam’s north, which detailed Mijksenaar “enthusiastic help with the deportation of Jews, and that he strived to make this process rapid and efficient,” as CIDI described it in a statement.

According to Het Parool daily, Mijksenaar also helped save two Jews from the Hollandsche Schouwburg – an Amsterdam theatre that Nazi occupation forces turned into an internment camp for Jews. But his record of collaboration with the Nazi occupation had remained obscure.

Separately, the city of Dordrecht in the south of the Netherlands announced it will look into complaints that its main museum about World War II includes a section in which soldiers who fought for Nazi Germany are commemorated alongside that country’s Jewish victims who were murdered in the Holocaust.

The joint commemoration, which many Jews find offensive, was discovered by Edjo Frank, a local resident, who wrote the city to complain about it, the Jonet news site reported Tuesday.

While common in Eastern and Central Europe, the veneration of Nazi collaborators is relatively rare in the Netherlands.

Last year, Allseas, a shipping giant that built a large vessel and named it for the late SS officer Pieter Schelte, agreed to change the ship’s name following years of campaigning by anti-Fascist activists, including from CIDI.

The book detailing Mijksenaar’s collaboration, “Asterdorp” by Stephan Steinmetz, also revealed that Amsterdam hiked rent prices for Jews after they had been confined to ghettos comprising city-owned real estate.


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