Speech by King Willem-Alexander at the opening of the National Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam

The National Holocaust Museum gives a face and a voice to the Jewish victims of persecution in the Netherlands. It brings to life the stories of people who were isolated from the rest of Dutch society, robbed of their rights, denied legal protection, rounded up, imprisoned, separated from their loved ones and murdered.

These stories must continue to be told. But the National Holocaust Museum does more than just tell us stories. It shows us the devastating consequences that antisemitism can have. 

That is why we must continue to be aware of how things began and how they went from bad to worse. 

The walls of the museum are covered – wall after wall after wall – with the many hundreds of ordinances, rules, instructions and bans: the small steps by which the Jewish population was set apart. Mandatory termination of employment. Forced registration. Banishment from public life. No bicycle. No telephone. No savings. No home. No freedom of movement. No life.

From antisemitic rhetoric to the gas chambers – poisonous words and deeds can create deadly dynamics and crimes so horrific and enormous that they defy comprehension.

Like the proverbial flap of a butterfly’s wings that gives rise to a hurricane which causes death and destruction and which cannot be stopped or contained. The havoc wreaked is staggering, and the wounds inflicted remain unhealed generations later. 

It is up to us all to stop antisemitism before it causes a hurricane that blows away everything that we hold dear. Let us never forget that Sobibor began in the Vondelpark with a sign that read ‘Forbidden for Jews’. 

There is no excuse for ignorance – no place for relativism, no room for ‘ifs and buts’. Knowledge of the Holocaust is not optional.

This museum shows us what happened not so very long ago. Some of you lived through it as children.

When you were born in the looming shadow of the Second World War, one in ten residents of Amsterdam was Jewish. 

Jewish culture is Amsterdam culture, and vice versa. 
The National Holocaust Museum is inextricably linked to this city and to our country. Like a permanent mark on the wall. Like a call to us all, young and old, to stand against antisemitism and against threats and exclusion targeting Jewish people and Jewish institutions. 

Come, visit this museum. Bring your children, your grandchildren. Listen to the stories. Learn about what happened. And keep that knowledge in your heads and in your hearts.