Opening speech by Jan van Zanen at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day-The Hague

Commemoration, 30 January 2023



Dear guests,


Today we remember the victims of the Holocaust.

Over 12,000 Jewish residents of The Hague and 75 Sinti and Roma who lived in our city did not survive the Second World War.

Their mass murder is and remains one of the biggest crimes ever to be committed in our city.

In 1940, The Hague had the second largest Jewish community in the Netherlands.

Between the summer of 1942 and spring 1943, most of this community were deported and murdered.

A fate that also befell most Sinti and Roma from The Hague.

During the razzia in May 1944, they were taken to the transit camp in Westerbork.

From there, they were put on the next transport to Auschwitz.

Sinti and Roma along with Jews in one train to Auschwitz:

Everyone who was considered inferior by the Nazi rulers had to die.

Even more bitter is the fact that they coordinated their crimes from our city.

What a stark contrast with today, when The Hague is known as the centre of international justice.

The place where the world can call war criminals to account.


One of the lessons of the Holocaust is that the perpetrators of genocide must never go free.

At the same time, we have to continue to tell the story of the mass murder of European Jews, Sinti and Roma.

Firstly, out of respect for the millions of victims.

But for the future too.

Because we can learn from history.

Learn what racism can lead to.

Try and work out the moments when we could have intervened, could have prevented this evil.

Securing a peaceful and happy future starts with educating a new generation of active citizens.

Let’s continue doing that together.

I wish you all a very good and worthy commemoration.