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King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima pay tribute to victims at Buchenwald

Yesterday, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima were at the Buchenwald concentration camp to pay tribute to the victims who suffered and died in the former German concentration camp during World War Two.

They made the trip to the camp, which is just outside of Weimar, on day two of their four-day working visit to Germany. Their Majesties laid white roses on the memorial plaque listing the names of the fifty countries where the victims came from. The camp, which was one of the first and largest concentration camps in Nazi Germany, now serves as a museum and memorial.

The memorial plaque to the victims at Buchenwald in 2006. Photo: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

They were also given a tour of the Nazi concentration camp and learned that more Dutch citizens died in the camp than had originally been thought. It is now believed that close to 4,500 Dutch prisoners died instead of the 3,300 number that had originally been reported.

Buchenwald held close to 280,000 prisoners during the war with 56,000 of them dying in the camp. Notable inmates included Princess Mafalda of Savoy, who was the daughter of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy. Her younger brother, King Umberto II was the last King of Italy. She was imprisoned on the order of Adolph Hitler who believed she was working against the Third Reich. After the Allies had bombed the ammunition factory in the camp in August 1944, Princess Mafalda was buried up to her neck in debris and suffered severe burns. As a result of the conditions of the camp, her wounds became infected which led to the amputation of her arm. Tragically, she lost a mass amount of blood during the procedure, and she died the following day.

Their Majesties at the trade dinner with Minister President of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich. Photo: Matthias Rietschel/Government of Saxony

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima also were in the city of Erfurt to visit the Old Synagogue. The Old Synagogue, which has been a museum of Jewish life for the past 25 years, is one of the oldest existing Jewish places of worship in Europe.

The King and Queen also visited the Leibniz Institute for Photonic Technologies and attended a trade dinner yesterday evening at the Congress Hall at the Zoo in Leipzig.

Attendees of the trade dinner yesterday evening. Photo: Matthias Rietschel/Government of Saxony

Today, Their Majesties will be in the city of Leipzig to visit the European Energy Exchange and an ammunition factory where 500 Dutch laborers were forced to work. This evening they will be at the All Saints’ Church (Castle Church) of Wittenberg where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses in 1517 which was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

According to the press release from the monarchy, the working visit revolves around trade and investment, “The purpose of the visit is to deepen trade and investment relations and promote cooperation in three key sectors: high-tech systems and materials (HTSM), chemicals and flood protection.” Photos from their German visit can be viewed on the Dutch Monarchy’s website.

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