Amsterdam Couple Drops Suit to Remove Holocaust Memorial Plaque After Public Outcry

Couple says that plaque reminded them of their dead child. Dropped lawsuit claimed memorial 'compromises the atmosphere' of their upscale neighborhood.

A Dutch couple who sued the municipality of Amsterdam over the placing of a postcard-sized Holocaust memorial plaque near their home have dropped their motion as a result of harsh criticism.

The couple, who live in the upscale Old South neighborhood of the Dutch capital, told the Volkskrant daily on Sunday that the suit prompted criticism in the Dutch media and beyond ever since it was reported  Friday.

“We’re shocked by the way in which the publicity regarding this issue has led to misunderstandings,” wrote the couple, who requested anonymity. They added that “because of the death of our child, the stumbling cobblestone is too emotional.”

They were referring to the 4-square-inch brass plaque that city workers put in the sidewalk near their doorway in 2014 bearing the name of Joachim Elte, a Jewish accountant who lived in the couple’s building on 3 Sint Maes St. before he was deported to a Nazi concentration camp during World War II and murdered in 1945.

Amsterdam has approximately 400 memorial cobblestones – part of over 50,000 artifacts installed since 1996 by a German artist in 18 countries across Europe in front of the former homes of the Holocaust victims whose names are engraved on the cobblestones.

The City of Amsterdam recently moved Elte’s cobblestone farther from the couple’s doorway at their request, but declined their requests to have it removed. Subsequently they sued the city. In their motion, the two residents said they found the cobblestone too confrontational because it constantly reminded them of the deportation and murder of Elte. They also argued it “compromises the atmosphere” of their upscale neighborhood and their privacy because it attracts onlookers. A judge had referred their lawsuit to a civil court.

Elte’s grandson also lives on Sint Maes Street, according to the Volkskrant.

Approximately 75 percent of the 140,000 Jews who lived in the Netherlands when Germany invaded the country in 1940 were murdered in the Holocaust. The Netherlands had the highest death rate in Nazi-occupied Western Europe.