On Sunday, January 27, the annual Holocaust Commemoration organized by the Dutch Auschwitz Committee took place in Wertheimpark. Despite steady rainfall, hundreds of participants gathered at Amsterdam’s City Hall to walk together in silence towards the ceremony, which is held annually on the last Sunday of January. The Commemoration takes place next to the Auschwitz Monument, a memorial made up of broken mirrors dedicated to all of those who lost their lives in Auschwitz.
Among the speakers commemorating the victims of the Holocaust and their relatives were politicians such as Amsterdam’s mayor, Femke Halsema, and Gerdi Verbeet, Head of the National Committee for the 4th and 5th of May (Remembrance Day and Liberation Day respectively). Halsema highlighted the importance of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive in order to “take a stance” against all future attempts at genocide. Duco van Eijkelenburg, a young member of the Auschwitz Committee, emphasizes the importance for members of the third generation, specifically, to remember and learn from the horrors of the Second World War. Both speakers close their speech with the evocative words “Auschwitz never again”, inscribed on the monument. The ceremony was musically accompanied by a band composed of Sinti and Roma, another minority affected by the Holocaust.
An elderly attendee, who wishes to remain anonymous, notes that far fewer people came together this year, probably because of the rain. He himself attends every year, finding it important to remember the terror. He says, “Look at [another country/ies] The world has learned nothing from the 6 million Jews who died”. His view is reflected by Verbeet’s and van Eijkelenburg’s emphasis on the necessity for young people to stand up against injustice against minorities of any kind. The ceremony ended with the opportunity for representatives of the city, embassies, committees, and attendees to offer flowers to the Auschwitz-memorial.
The Auschwitz Monument was created by artist Jan Wolters in 1977 and moved to Wertheimpark in 1993. Composed of broken mirrors it demonstrates that since Auschwitz, “heaven isn’t unbroken anymore”.