King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands has publicly acknowledged that his great-grandmother Queen Wilhelmina failed to protect the country’s Jewish population during the Second World War.
The Dutch King made his remarks during a historic speech at the ceremony of the Remembrance of Dead in Amsterdam yesterday. The Remembrance, usually held with a large crowd, took place in an almost empty Dam Square in Amsterdam at the National Monument. This was due to the Coronavirus crisis. It was also the first time a reigning monarch spoke during the ceremony. The speech came after the annual two minutes of silence, which commemorates all the war victims since the start of the Second World War.
During his speech he said: “Fellow human beings felt abandoned, insufficiently heard, insufficiently supported, even with words. Also, from London by my great-grandmother, despite her steadfast resistance. It’s something that won’t let go of me.”
Queen Wilhelmina escaped during the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940 and managed her government in exile from London. She spoke on the radio 48 times over the years, though she only mentioned the persecution of Jews three times, leaving many wondering if she was indifferent to their plight. Around 75% of the Dutch Jews were killed during the war.