The Protestant Church of Netherlands (PKN) publicly admitted their responsibility during the Nazi occupation of the country, at a special ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 8.
Evangelical Focus reports that the PKN’s chair, René de Reuver, spoke at the ceremony in the Rab Aron Schuster synagogue of Amsterdam, in which he said the Protestant institutions failed Jews as Nazism expanded its influence across Europe. “The Church recognizes faults and feels a present responsibility," de Reuver said. "Antisemitism is a sin against God and against people. The Protestant Church is also part of this sinful history"
Even before Hitler’s invasion of the Netherlands in 1940, the Protestant Church "laid the ground under which anti-Semitism and hatred could flourish," de Reuver added.
Looking towards the future, he said, "We undertake to do everything possible to further develop Judeo-Christian relations into a deep friendship of two equal partners, united among others in the fight against contemporary anti-Semitism."
The event commemorated the Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) of 1938, when hundreds of synagogues were burnt down in Germany and Austria, and thousands of businesses of Jews attacked.
Rabbi Les Vorst, who survived the Holocaust, also took part in Sunday’s ceremony. "I was 5 years old when I was taken away in April 1943. I still see agents standing in the front garden of our house in Rotterdam," he said as he recounted his experience. He was sent to a Dutch concentration camp at Westerbork but freed in 1945.
It is estimated that over 100,000 Jews were murdered in the Netherlands after the Nazi occupation in May 1940. Most were deported to concentration camps.
In statements sent on video, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Austria’s President Alexander van der Bellen and Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on people to fight antisemitism.
Around 15 per cent of the population of Netherlands identifies as Protestant, according the Central Department of Statistics. This includes members of the PKN church, but also other Protestant denominations and free evangelical churches.
This article was originally published at Evangelical Focus and is republished here with permission.