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Turning a blind eye: Aspects of Holocaust memory in Belgium


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Sixty years after the deportations of the Jews, it is perhaps time for Belgium, following the example of France, to acknowledge the Belgian state’s involvement in and accountability for the Nazi persecutions carried out on its territory. True, there are no grounds for comparing France and Belgium. France had a government – a head of state, ministers, and public services – which was independent, collaborationist and officially racist, whereas Belgium’s government, at odds with the king, had opted for exile. Nevertheless, from Brussels to Antwerp, via Liège and Charleroi, Nazi Germany could not have implemented the Final Solution without the active cooperation of local intermediaries, in the public services and the police force alike. Otherwise, it is inconceivable that fifteen German SS personnel could have organized the deportation from Belgium of some 25,000 individuals. Until recently, community-based conflicts kept the Shoah from occupying a place in the heart of Belgian memory of World War II. Now, although the path has been a rocky one, the Jews have set foot on the terrain of the history of World War II in Belgium. This chapter is divided into two parts. The first part will analyze Belgium’s perception of collaboration, concentrating mainly on political differences over this issue between Flanders and the two largely francophone regions of Belgium, Brussels and Wallonia. The second part will examine the country’s complex attitude to the memory of the Holocaust, and particularly to Belgian collaboration in the deportation of the Jews, and to the interests and compensation of Jewish victims and their descendants.




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Link to book (paywalled), Turning a blind eye: Aspects of Holocaust memory in Belgium

Bibliographic Information

Steinberg, Maxim, Kotek, Joël Turning a blind eye: Aspects of Holocaust memory in Belgium. Collaboration with the Nazis: Public Discourse after the Holocaust. Routledge. 2010:  https://archive.jpr.org.uk/object-2735