HomeWorldA new Holocaust Museum shows how three-quarters of Dutch Jews were deported...

A new Holocaust Museum shows how three-quarters of Dutch Jews were deported and killed

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AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Dutch resistance spirited newborn Flip Delmonte away after his parents were detained by Nazi occupiers of the Netherlands in World War II.

They were among 102,000 Jews deported from the Netherlands and murdered in Nazi death camps. Delmonte’s mother was killed as soon as she arrived at Auschwitz while his father, “a strong man,” was worked to death.

On Tuesday, the 80-year-old Delmonte attended the official preview of the Netherlands’ National Holocaust Museum, pointing proudly at a picture he donated of himself after the war.

“The Jewish people were murdered. There are people, children who survived and we cannot forget them. They must be remembered also in the future,” Delmonte said.

The museum will be officially opened Sunday by Dutch King Willem-Alexander. It tells the story, in video footage, photos, scale models and mementos, of Dutch victims of the Holocaust.

Three-quarters of the prewar Dutch Jews were among the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis, the largest proportion of any country in Europe.

Head curator Annemiek Gringold pulled together exhibition rooms that do not shy away from the atrocities. There is a prominent photo of a boy walking past bodies in Bergen-Belsen shortly after the liberation of the concentration camp.

But the museum also features small mementos of the lives lost: a doll, an orange dress made from parachute material and a collection of 10 buttons excavated from the grounds of the Sobibor camp.

“Perhaps this is the closest I can come to the thousands and thousands of anonymous people that were rushed into the gas chamber,” Gringold said. “This is something that they chose to wear, and it is one of the last items that they touched.”

Gringold said the museum opens at a time “that the generation that survived the Shoah is slowly leaving us.”

Now she wants to tell their story “to be aware of where antisemitism might lead to in certain circumstances.”

The walls of one room are filled, floor to ceiling, with the texts of hundreds of laws discriminating against Jews that were enacted by the German occupiers of the Netherlands, to show how the Nazi regime, assisted by Dutch civil servants, dehumanized Jews ahead of operations to round them up.

The museum is in the Dutch capital’s historic Jewish Quarter and close to a memorial officially opened in 2021 that honors Dutch victims of the Holocaust.

It opens against a backdrop of Israel’s devastating attacks on Gaza that followed the deadly incursions by Hamas in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

“The actual events as they are happening in Israel, with the war going on, they are … on my mind. But I focus on the history of this particular site,” Gringold said.

Delmonte was happy to contribute a photograph to the museum, but he kept his most treasured keepsake for himself.

“I have a cookie plate at home which used to be my mother’s, and my aunt has given that to me at my birthday,” he said. “I still have that at home. So that’s very special for me.”

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