The Dutch Protestant Church made a far-reaching recognition of guilt Sunday for its failure to do more to help Jews during and after World War II, and for the church’s role in preparing ”the ground in which the seeds of anti-Semitism and hatred could grow.”
The long-awaited, historic statement came at a solemn ceremony to mark Monday’s anniversary of the Nazis’ anti-Jewish Kristallnacht pogrom, or the “Night of Broken Glass.”
On November 9, 1938, Jews were terrorized throughout Germany and Austria. At least 91 people were killed, hundreds of synagogues burned down, around 7,500 Jewish businesses vandalized, and up to 30,000 Jewish men arrested, many of whom were taken away to concentration camps.
René de Reuver, speaking on behalf of the General Synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, said the church’s role began long before Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany.
“For centuries, a rift was maintained that could later isolate the Jews in society in such a way that they could be taken away and murdered,” De Reuver said.
“Also in the war years, the ecclesiastical authorities often lacked the courage to choose a position for the Jewish citizens of our country,” he added.
More than 100,000 Dutch Jews — 70% of the Jewish community — did not survive World War II. Most were deported, along with Roma and Sinti, and killed in Nazi concentration camps.