Belgian Senate strengthens Holocaust-era recognition text

(JTA) — Reacting to complaints by Belgian Jews, the country’s Senate has issued a strengthened version of an earlier text recognizing Holocaust-era complicity.

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“The Senate hereby enacts the government’s statement made on Sept. 9, 2012, by Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who acknowledged the responsibility of Belgian authorities, and through it that of the Belgian state, in the persecution of Jews in Belgium,” the resolution, unanimously passed by the Belgian Senate on Wednesday, read.

The resolution was based on a text passed by a committee of the Senate earlier this month, which only spoke of “responsibility of Belgian authorities” without reference to the state, or to which authorities cooperated with the Nazi occupation forces and which ones did not. Several Belgian Jewish groups, including the CCOJB umbrella group, called on the Senate to reformulate the resolution, as they found it minimized the role of the Belgian state, as described in a report from 2007.

Titled “Obedient Belgium” and compiled by the federal Center for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society, 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 Nazi death camps.

“We have not been insensitive to the reactions of the Jewish community,” Philippe Mahoux, a Socialist senator, said at the session. “We did not have the slightest intention of minimizing the Belgian state’s responsibility.”

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