NEW YORK (Aug. 5)
The determination of the Belgian people to resist the Nazi persecution of Jews and their long history of friendship for the Jewish people is related in an article entitled "Spiritually We Are Semites," appearing today in the Aug. issue of "News From Belgium," the official organ of the Belgian Information Center here. The article is signed by the editors of the publication.
"It would be exaggerated to say that there has never been any anti-Semitic feeling in Belgium," the article states, "but we are proud to say that it has not existed since the XIVth Century. The chronicles of the time tell how in the early part of that century some Jews were killed for reasons inspired by bigotry or by plain rowdiness and how those Jews who survived sat at the borders of the Senne in Brussels chanting eulogies for their murdered friends. That was exactly six hundred years ago, and since then nothing of the kind has happened again.
"It is true that Philip II drove most of the Jews out of Antwerp around 1560, but those engaged in the diamond trade stayed on and ensured the future greatness of their home country as a diamond-cutting, polishing and trading center.
"Thus there was not even any basis for a Jewish question in Belgium. When Hitler came to power, Antwerp became the haven of thousands of Jews, driven from Germany or escaped from Nazi torture camps. And when, one day, German Jewish parents, in despair, shipped a couple of hundred Jewish children to Belgium in a train, leaving these waifs to the care of their co-religionists, the Belgian Parliament voted a credit of six million francs to the Jewish welfare organizations to help these children and other Jewish refugees.
"Pope Pius XI, that marvelous, formidable old man, reminded a group of Belgian pilgrims, who had come to pay him homage one day in September 1938, of the position of the Church with regard to anti-Semitism. Said the Pope: ‘Sacrificium Patriarchae nostri Abramae. Mark well that Abraham is called our Patriarch, our ancestor.’ Anti-Semitism is incompatible with the thought and sublime reality expressed in this text. It is an antipathetic movement. We Christians can have nothing to do with it.’
"Following the invasion, the Nazis tried to apply to the circa 40,000 Jews of Belgium the laws and regulations inspired by their moronic racial theory. They met with little success, but having more urgent matters to attend to, they did not press the issue. When resistance became organized in Belgium, they needed a scapegoat and their anti-Semitic actions gradually increased. On June 20, an act of sabotage was committed. In reprisal, 70 Belgians, so-called Communists, 60 war prisoners who had been liberated and 1,000 Jews were deported to Russia, according to the Brusseler Zeitung.
"When the Nazis try to starve Jewish children to death by refusing them rationing cards, the Belgian Red Cross steps in and feeds them better than the other children. When Jews are compelled to wear the Star of David, school teachers explain to their classes that this mark, designed for infamy, is a token of distinction. Dozens of incidents of that kind happen every day all over Belgium, for the brutes may believe that all evil comes from the members of one race, as savages believe in taboos, but the Belgians, for the last six centuries have known, at all times, that the enemy is within us all, and that only those who succeed in subduing their passions belong to a superior race, to a race of decent people."