The foundation in charge of a former Nazi concentration camp in the Netherlands has cancelled the planned sale of pieces of barbed wire dug up at the site after protests from Jewish groups.
Kamp Amersfoort Foundation director Harry Ruijs said he would no longer sell the 50 pieces of wire for €10 ($13) apiece to finance an exhibition of artifacts discovered at the site around 50 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of Amsterdam.
“It seems we have hurt some people and it was not our intention at all,” Ruijs told AFP. “That’s why we decided to halt the sale.”
Ruijs said the foundation originally decided to sell the barbed wire pieces – mounted on a display board – to cover the €500 it would cost to put on the exhibition to “draw attention to the importance of physical evidence whose preservation costs money.”
Artifacts included helmets, water bottles and 150 mysterious name tags in which the names and addresses have been engraved in mirror image.
The plans to mount and sell the barbed wire pieces were met with outrage by Jewish organisations immediately after the planned sale was announced.
“Barbed wire is the archetypical symbol of the concentration camp. It should not be put up for sale at all,” said Esther Voet, deputy director of the Dutch Center for Documentation and Information on Israel (CIDI).
“Imagine if some of these pieces of barbed wire are ultimately bought by a neo-Nazi. That would be horrible,” Voet said.
A spokeswoman for the Netherlands’s Central Jewish Council who asked not to be named said that idea was “completely tasteless and lacking in respect for the victims and their families.”
Between 35,000 and 40,000 people passed through Kamp Amersfoort during World War II – of whom at least half were deported to Nazi death camps including Buchenwald.
Today, not much of the camp remains. Buildings to train police officers were built on the site after the war.
Ruijs said he consulted former prisoners at the camp and their relatives before the sale and that their reactions had been positive.
“We’ll now give away the barbed wire pieces to those who ask for it and had relatives who passed through the camp,” said Ruijs.