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Owner Forced to Rechristen Ship Named After Nazi Criminal, Used by Shell

© WikipediaPieter Schelte (ship)
Pieter Schelte (ship) - Sputnik International
The Dutch owner of a ship he named after his father, a Nazi Waffen-SS war criminal, that is slated to be used by Royal Dutch Shell in British waters, has been forced to rename the vessel following a public outcry and pressure from anti-defamation activists.

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Edward Heerema, the owner of the world’s largest crane ship, which is slated to be used by Royal Dutch Shell in UK waters, has been forced to change the name of the vessel, which he named after his father, Pieter Schelte Heerema, a Waffen-SS officer and brazen anti-Semite who sent people from the Netherlands to forced labor camps in the Baltics.

The decision comes amid public outcry and mounting pressure from Jewish groups over the name of the ship.

Edward Heerema, founder and president of the ship’s operator, Switzerland-based Allseas Group SA, has said that he will bow to demands that he rename the vessel, claiming it had never been his intention to offend anyone. The new name will be announced within a few days.

During the Nazi German occupation of the Netherlands, Pieter Schelte Heerema delivered slave labor to the eastern front throughout the conflict as director of the Dutch East Company on behalf of the SS, which dealt with the "colonization of Eastern Europe."

© WikipediaPieter Schelte
Pieter Schelte - Sputnik International
Pieter Schelte

Earlier in February the company had ruled out any intentions to rename the vessel. When contacted by the activists, Edward Heerema praised his father’s creativity and entrepreneurship.

"The naming of the vessel reflects what the late Pieter Schelte Heerema has accomplished in the field of construction, which has been of great significance to the development of offshore oil and gas production until the present day," Edward Heerema said in a statement.

With regards to Pieter Schelte’s darker past, his son wrote: "The wartime past of Pieter Schelte Heerema remains painful and difficult for his family and for many others."

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"Edward has expressly disassociated himself from his father’s sympathies in the Second World War," said a spokesperson for the company. Unlike many who collaborated with the Germans during the war out of fear or indifference, Heerema was an avid supporter of the Third Reich. According to the Dutch Institute for War Documentation, Pieter Schelte gave a speech in 1941 in which he stated that "The Jewish Race compared with the Germanic one is a parasitic race, and therefore the Jewish question must be solved in each country."

The issue was brought up again after Royal Dutch Shell announced its intentions to use the vessel for decommissioning the North Sea’s Brent oilfield. The company then said it failed to convince the owner to rename the ship.

The change of heart came after the UK government intervened. Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the name of the ship was "wholly inappropriate and offensive", The Financial Times reported on Friday.

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