Belgian premier apologizes for Holocaust-era complicity

(JTA) — The prime minister of Belgium, Elio Di Rupo, apologized for the complicity of state authorities in the murder of Belgian Jews during the Holocaust.

“We must have the courage to look at the truth: There was steady participation by the Belgian state authorities in the persecution of Jews,” Di Rupo said Sunday at a memorial ceremony in the city of Mechelen.  

The ceremony honored the memory of some 25,000 Jews and Roma who were deported from the city to Auschwitz in the summer of 1942.

Di Rupo also said he wished to remove any “ambiguity” regarding the Belgian authorities’ role in deportations. 

On Sept. 2, the mayor of Brussels, Freddy Thielemans, acknowledged the role of city authorities in deporting Jews but added, “It is not for me to pass judgment.” 

An early version of an invitation signed by the mayor to a memorial ceremony spoke of Brussels citizens deported by Belgian authorities appointed by the Nazis.

Several Jewish organizations said the text was a “rewriting of history,” as the deportees were Jews from all of Belgium and authorities had not been appointed by the German occupation forces. The mayor subsequently changed the text of the invitation.

Last month, Antwerp Mayor Patrick Janssens recognized and apologized for the complicity of city authorities in deportations. Janssens announced plans to erect a monument engraved with the names of Antwerps Jew known to have been murdered in the Holocaust.

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