Jewish Leaders Outraged Over Dutch Ship Named After SS Officer

The Pieter Schelte's namesake commandeered thousands for forced labor, once said Jews are 'parasitic.'

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The Pieter Schelte sailing into the Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands, on Thurs., Jan. 8, 2015.Credit: Bloomberg

The Pieter Schelte, billed as the world's largest ship, has reached Rotterdam from South Korea's Daewoo shipyards to howls of protest from Jewish leaders and Holocaust memorial groups, outraged that the vessel is named after a Dutch Waffen-SS officer, The Guardian reports.

The ship is owned by Edward Heerema, a Dutch citizen whose father was Pieter Schelte Heerema, a renowned maritime engineer and member of the SS, who died in 1981. According to the shipbuilder, Swiss-based Allseas Group, which Edward Hareema founded in 1985, the vessel was named in honor of the late Schelte Heerema's “great achievements in the offshore oil and gas industry."

David Barnouw, the main researcher of the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, said Pieter Schelte Heerema was “a member of a small fascist party before the war, but was in Venezuela when the Germans invaded. Schelte saw it as a reason to return,” after which he joined the SS, and, "commandeered 4,000 for forced labour.” Schelte once said that the “the German race is model. The Jewish race, by comparison, is parasitic Therefore the Jewish question must be resolved in every Aryan country,” Barnouw said.

The ship is at present being prepared for deployment to service British companies in the North Sea. Allseas describes it as a "382 m long, 124 m wide dynamically positioned (DP) platform installation / decommissioning and pipelay vessel." The ship arrived in the Dutch port city three weeks before the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. 

As The Guardian reports, Ruth Barnett, a refugee from Nazi Germany who arrived in Britain as part of the Kindertransport, said: “I am outraged by the intensity and extent of denial and indifference that fails to challenge things like this ship, and allows the impunity for perpetrators to think they can get away with it.”

Jonathan Arkush, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, urged the ship's owners to change its name: “Naming such a ship after an SS officer who was convicted of war crimes is an insult to the millions who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis," he said.