Shoah and human rights institutes open in Belgium, Brazil

(JTA) — Institutions on the Holocaust and human rights opened in Belgium and Brazil.

In Belgium, a museum opened last week in Mechelen, a city situated between Antwerp and Brussels where Belgian and German police officers concentrated thousands of Jews for deportation to Auschwitz. 

Named the Dossin Barracks Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre for the Holocaust and Human Rights, the building is housed near the center of Mechelen.

The Belgian equivalent of the French Drancy camp, outside of Paris, the Dossin barracks, an 18th century building with courtyards connected directly to the Belgian rail network, was used as a transit camp by Nazi occupiers between 1942 and 1944 for deportations to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

The building is made of 25,852 bricks, representing the known number of Jews and Roma sent to their deaths at Auschwitz from the nearby barracks. 

Eli Ringer, honorary chairman of the Flemish Forum of Jewish Organizations, told JTA that “there was some concern in the Jewish community” connected to the institution’s “dedication as a museum for human rights instead of a museum on the Holocaust,” as this “could lead to some obfuscation or banalization.” He said the concerns were "worked out,” as the museum is mostly dedicated to the Holocaust.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Institute on the Shoah and Human rights, a new organization affiliated with the local branch of the international, Jewish human rights organization B’nai B’rith, was dedicated on Dec. 6.

The institute aims to provide students, jurists and historians with information and access to original documents connected to the Holocaust.  

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