The Netherlands’ first Holocaust museum was officially opened in Amsterdam on Sunday by King Willem-Alexander alongside the Israeli president, whose presence was booed by hundreds of protesters calling for his appearance before the International Criminal Court .

“This museum shows us what the devastating consequences of anti-Semitism can be,” the king declared during a solemn gathering in a synagogue near the museum, attended by Dutch survivors of the Shoah. For Israeli President Isaac Herzog, this museum sends “a clear and powerful message: remember, remember the horrors born of hatred, anti-Semitism and racism, and never allow them to flourish again.” “Unfortunately, it’s now. Right now, hatred and anti-Semitism are thriving across the world and we must fight them together,” he continued.

Mr. Herzog called for the “immediate” release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip since the bloody Hamas attack on October 7, which left 1,160 people dead, most of them civilians, and called for “prays for peace” . Less than a kilometer away, demonstrators gathered against Mr. Herzog’s presence at the inauguration, including Jewish organizations calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli response has been left more than 31,000 dead according to Hamas, and caused colossal destruction.

Hundreds of people, flying Palestinian flags and accusing Israel of committing genocide in the Gaza Strip, shouted “Never again, it’s now!”, and booed officials who came to attend the museum’s inauguration. “There is only one place for him, and that is the ICC,” the International Criminal Court, says Estelle Jilissen, a 25-year-old consultant, assuring that for many Jews, the presence of Mr. Herzog “ smears the suffering of their ancestors. On the road leading to the museum, demonstrators had hung signs on streetlights: “Detour to the International Criminal Court.”

Striped uniforms from Auschwitz, buttons of clothing torn off upon arrival at the Sobibor extermination camp, letters and photos: the museum, located in the historic Jewish quarter of central Amsterdam, exhibits 2,500 objects. Before the war and the Nazi occupation, the Netherlands was home to some 140,000 Jews, mainly in Amsterdam. 102,000 of them were killed in the Holocaust, or about 75%. “We are telling this story of extreme humiliation and we have restored dignity to the victims by presenting their objects in a very special way,” Annemiek Gringold, curator of the museum, explained to AFP.

The inauguration of the museum, 80 years after the Second World War, comes in a context of rising anti-Semitism in the country. The number of anti-Semitic acts doubled in 2023, according to official figures. In a recent incident that made headlines, swastikas were painted on a synagogue.

Amsterdam allocated 900,000 euros to secure the museum, in front of which concrete blocks were placed to prevent a car-ramming attack.