First stone laid at Dutch Holocaust Memorial in Amsterdam

FILE - In this Wednesday, June 12, 2019 file photo, Jacqueline van Maarsen, left, and Albert Gomes de Mesquita, school friends of Anne Frank, talk to students during an event to mark what would have been Anne Frank's 90th birthday, in Amsterdam. Jacqueline van Maarsen laid the first stone Wednesday Sept. 23, 2020, at a new memorial under construction in Amsterdam to honor all Dutch victims of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Michael C. Corder, File) (Michael C. Corder, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

THE HAGUE – A friend of World War II Jewish diarist Anne Frank laid the first stone Wednesday at a new memorial under construction in Amsterdam to honor all Dutch victims of the Holocaust.

The ceremonial laying of the first stone, on which the name of a Dutch Holocaust victim was engraved, is the latest step in construction of the Dutch memorial, which will feature the names of more than 102,000 Jews, Roma and Sinti who were murdered in Nazi concentration camps during World War II or who died on their way to the camps.

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“I almost can't believe it, but it is now really happening,” Jacques Grishaver, chairman of the Netherlands Auschwitz Committee, said in a statement. “The first of the more than 102,000 stones has been laid.”

The last of the stones, each of which is engraved with a name, is expected to be placed in the memorial in March.

A Dutch court cleared the way last year for the memorial to be constructed. Amsterdam Municipality had granted permission for construction to start in 2017, but residents argued that it was too big for the location and could cause traffic problems.

Jacqueline van Maarsen, who knew Anne Frank before the diarist and her family were captured and sent to Nazi concentration camps, laid a stone engraved by laser with the name, date of birth and age of Dina Frankenhuis, who was murdered, aged 20, on June 4, 1943, at the Sobibor camp.

Designed by Polish-Jewish architect Daniel Libeskind, the memorial in the heart of Amsterdam's historic Jewish Quarter will be made up of walls shaped to form four Hebrew letters spelling out a word that translates as “In Memory Of.”

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