Dutch senator apologizes for saying Jews went ‘like lambs’ to gas chambers

(JTA) — A Dutch senator who said Jews went like lambs to the gas chambers during the Holocaust apologized, but a more senior senator from his party regretted the apology.

Paul Cliteur, the head of the Forum for Democracy right-wing faction in the Senate, told the Telegraaf daily on Wednesday that there was nothing wrong with the statements referencing lambs by his colleague Toine Beukering.

Beukering told the same paper that his remark was “very awkward. I also regret it and I take it back.”

Cliteur, though, told the Telegraaf: “Considering the context, I understand what he meant. I saw no biased remarks about Jews in what he said. Pity people are trying to interpret it that way. To me, he shouldn’t have taken back what he said.”

Recalling his long years of service in the armed forces, Beukering said in the interview that landed him in trouble that the Holocaust was one of the reasons he enlisted.

“As a young child, I read a whole cabinet of books about the Holocaust,” Beukering said in the Telegraaf interview published Saturday.

“I was always interested in finding out how it was at all possible. That the Jews, such a courageous and combative people, were driven to the gas chambers just like meek little lambs. It has always fascinated me. I never really found an answer for it. But to me it did mean one thing: Never again. That’s why I wore a uniform for 40 years and have been all over the world.”