Belgian Senate recognizes authorities’ role during Holocaust

THE HAGUE (JTA) — A Belgian Senate committee adopted a resolution acknowledging the country’s complicity in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust. 

The Senate’s committee on institutional affairs voted in favor of the resolution on Jan. 9, according to Belga, a local news agency.

“Some Belgian authorities practiced collaboration unfitting of a democracy,” the resolution read, “with tragic consequences for the Jewish population.”

The resolution also encourages the Belgian government to “examine the possibility of giving a statute” to Jews and Roma who were “deported for racist reasons” and to orphans of the Holocaust. It does not specify what that statute should be.

As the factual basis for the statement, the resolution referenced a 1,100-page report entitled “Obedient Belgium,” completed in 2007 by the Center for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society. The Senate tasked the federal research body with compiling the report in 2002. 

An article in the newspaper La Libre Belgique cited political instability as the main reason for a six-year delay in the adoption of the report.

To come into effect, the resolution needs to pass in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, where it is expected to receive the support of a large majority. 

Last year, the mayors of Antwerp and Brussels for the first time apologized for their municipalities’ role in the deportation of Jews from Belgium in 1942. 

Some 66,000 Jews lived in Belgium when Germany invaded in 1940, according to Yad Vashem. Of them, 34,801 were imprisoned or deported. More than 80 percent of those deported died.

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