'With a deep sense of hurt and disappointment, my conscience compels me to commemorate the removal from the exercise of their office of several Dutch colleagues, purely on the grounds of origin or faith.' It was with this sentence that Utrecht scholar Prof Victor Koningsberger opened his public address in support of his Jewish colleagues who had been banned from the university by the German occupiers. He was the first professor in the Netherlands to voice his support in this way, on 25 November 1940.
In honour of Prof Victor Koningsberger, Utrecht University decided to institute the annual Koningsberger Lecture. By doing so, the University aims to keep the memory alive of Koningsberger's act of conscientious objection against the German occupiers, as an example to current and future generations of the need for acts of resistance to guarantee the upholding of fundamental rights. These include fundamental human rights, such as the equal rights of all people, irrespective of race and creed, and the importance of constitutional democracy and democratic principles. Every year, someone who has made his or her name in this area is invited to give the Koningsberger lecture. From 2015 onwards, the Koningsberger lecture is part of the annual Memorial day on May 4th.