Mayor admits Brussels’ role in WWII deportation of Jews
The city of Brussels officially recognised Sunday its complicity in the deportation of thousands of Jews to Nazi death camps during World War II.
At a ceremony attended by Israel’s ambassador and Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Joelle Milquet, Brussels mayor Freddy Thielemans acknowledged the key role the city’s register of Jews played in raids that sent thousands to death camps.
“Without this register of Jews, the progressive arrests and the raid of September 1942 would never have had the same impact in Brussels,” Thielemans said, quoted by Belga news agency.
Some 5,640 names were registered.
But Thielemans also recalled that in 1942, city mayor Jules Coelst refused to involve the city’s police in the raids and to distribute the yellow stars used to publicly identify Jews.
A state-commissioned study released in 2007 said Belgian authorities agreed in late 1940 to a Nazi demand to register the names of the Jewish population. In 1942, cities across the country except Brussels and Lieges, began distributing the stars.
Of the estimated 56,000 Jews living in Belgium at the beginning of the war, around 25,000 were deported to Auschwitz. Only about 1,200 survived.
Some six million European Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis during World War II.