Belgian Jewish groups seek fuller recognition of state’s Holocaust-era role

BRUSSELS (JTA) — Several Belgian-Jewish groups urged Belgium’s Senate to revise a resolution that only partially acknowledges the authorities’ Holocaust-era complicity.

CCOJB, the organization representing French-speaking Belgian Jews, in a statement published Jan. 22 called on the Senate to pass a resolution that speaks of the complicity of "the Belgian authorities" in rounding up Jews under German occupation.

That resolution, CCOJB said, should replace a resolution adopted by a Senate committee on Jan. 10 that said "some authorities" were guilty but did not specify which ones.

CCOJB said it "regrets" what it called "an attempt to minimize the Belgian responsibility for deporting Jews," which was recognized in "strong and clear words" by the Belgian king and the prime minister, Elio di Rupo, as well as mayors of three major Belgian cities who spoke of systematic collaboration with the Nazi occupation from 1940 to 1945.

The Brussels-based Association for the Memory of the Shoah called the resolution "revisionist" and the Belgian-Jewish group CCLJ said it was "an attempt to minimize" historical record on the authorities’ complicity.

The resolution and the fuller statements made last year for the first time by Belgian officials are based on a report submitted in 2007 to the Belgian Senate by the federal
Center for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society. Titled "Obedient Belgium," the report determined that the Belgian state and its authorities were guilty of systematically and unconstitutionally helping the Nazis round up more than a third of Belgium’s Jewish population of approximately 66,000, who died in death camps.

"If only some authorities are complicit, then at least we expect to hear from the Senate which ones were and which were not," Guido Joris, domestic affairs editor at the monthly Joods Actueel, told JTA.

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