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Belgian authorities were ‘active’ in Jewish Holocaust

Published on 20/10/2005

20 October 2005

BRUSSELS – Researchers have reached some damning conclusions in a study aiming to settle the thorny question of Belgium’s role in the Holocaust.

On Wednesday, the Centre for Studies and Documents on Wars and Contemporary Societies (SEGES) published an interim report in a project started in September 2004.

The centre is analysing the evidence in Belgium’s archives to establish how the country treated Jews during the German occupation. Above all, researchers hope to get to the bottom of the part the Belgian authorities played in deporting Jews to the concentration camps.

SEGES director Rudi Van Doorslaer and the four researchers in his team have already established that many Belgian administrations played an active role in persecuting Jews in Belgium.

When the German occupying forces introduced a law banning Jewish citizens from working as civil servants, the Belgian authorities went even further, obliging every civil servant to prove they were not Jewish.

“We haven’t found any trace of an administration against the carrying out of this measure,” said researcher Michael Amara.

Van Doorslaer said his team will try to discover whether Belgian authorities normally applied German decrees in that way, or whether they were only so far-reaching when they concerned the Jewish population.

Research will also centre on a group of Jews who were arrested by the Belgian authorities during the German invasion of Belgium in May 1940. Many of these Jews were later deported to France and then on to the Auschwitz death camp.

“One of the fundamental aspects is to find out if the Belgian authorities had a specific policy in relation to these imprisoned Jews,” stated researcher Emmanuel Debruyne.

The attitude of the Belgian judiciary towards Germany’s policies on Jews is also being investigated, along with legal reactions after the war.

“The research confirms that after the occupation, there was a systematic and general denial by the judicial procedures and administrations that the persecution of the Jews was a condemnable act,” stated researcher Nico Wouters.

CEGES’ study will be concluded with a final report next September. It is likely, however, that while it will settle many questions over the much-debated level of guilt that the Belgian state should shoulder, some questions will remain unanswered due to the poor state of Belgium’s archives.

“Their poor state of conservation and classification won’t allow us to be complete in our definitive report,” said Van Doorslaer.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news