'Nazi Ship': Government must not be allowed to duck the question

21 November 2008

'Nazi Ship': Government must not be allowed to duck the question

Economics Minister Maria Van der Hoeven must take immediate action against the Dutch maritime company Allseas which is planning to name a ship after a former SS officer. Van der Hoeven's ministry has invested more than €800,000 in subsidies in the planned 'Platform Removal Vessel Pieter Schelte', apparently overlooking the fact that Schelte was an outspoken Nazi.

In answer to parliamentary questions from the SP, Van der Hoeven said that although she is 'not happy' with the name, she intends to do nothing to stop it. SP Member of Parliament Sharon Gesthuizen accused her of shirking her responsibility. "She must be decisive in her judgement and get through to the firm that the reputation of the Netherlands would be damaged by this. Soon everyone in the Netherlands will have helped pay for a ship named after an SS officer, which surely can't be allowed." US, British and Israeli media have begun to pay attention to the affair. The Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, ABC News and the progressive Israeli daily Ha'aretz have each carried an extensive report covering it. .

At the time the name was chosen the authority responsible for the subsidy, Senter Novem, was not aware of the history of the name's original bearer. During the Second World War the Dutchman Pieter Schelte Heerema was an outspoken Nazi who, for example, proudly wore his SS uniform to his wedding. Now that these facts are known and there is outrage internationally regarding the Dutch government's attitude, the SP believes that Van der Hoeven must bring pressure to bear on Allseas, which is run by one of Schelte's sons.

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