The Belgian Jewish community on Sunday commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first deportation of Belgian Jews to the Nazi death camps and laid a cornerstone of a new museum to commemorate the war years.
The ceremonies, held at an ancient army camp, included participation by government officials and Israel’s ambassador to Belgium, Yitzhak Mayer.
The army camp at Mechelen, a city about 12 miles north of Brussels, was the site from which 25,124 Jews, including 5,430 children, were sent by 26 train transports to the concentration camps between August 1942 and July 1944.
Most went to Auschwitz. Only a few escaped from the gas chambers.
Those present laid the cornerstone of the Museum of Deportation and Resistance, created at the initiative of the Belgian Jewish Consistory.
But the commemoration of horrible events of a half-century earlier was marred by an incident that took place the day before: A dozen young Jews who got together in Brussels to go to the ceremony were reportedly attacked by a group of young Arabs.
Two of the Jews were badly wounded and hospitalized.