Commemoration of Brussels raids: Catholic church apologises for its silence
Monday, 04 September 2017
On Sunday, on the 75th anniversary of the raids on foreign Jews in Brussels, the Association for the Memory of the Holocaust organised commemorative activities in Les Marolles in Brussels, where the tragedy unfolded. Herschel Grynszpan Square was officially inaugurated in 6 p.m., at the intersection of the Rue des Tanneurs, Rue du Miroir and Rue des Brigittines. This was in the presence of the Chief Rabbi of Brussels, Albert Guigui, as well as several well-known political figures, led by with the Mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close. Two Jewish prayers were said.
The square is named after a young member of the Jewish resistance. He lived in Rue des Tanneurs, before assassinating a German diplomat in Paris, whose regime both persecuted and imprisoned his parents. The Mayor inaugurated a plaque for the “righteous”, remembering those who hid the Jews at that time.
The public attending, made up of more than 400 people, traced a route connecting the present commemorative plaques in the district. New plaques were inaugurated to remember the Gelender, Neumann, Van Praag and Sapira families.
Cardinal Joseph De Kesel held, at Notre Dame de la Chapelle, a conference around the theme of the Holocaust in Belgium and the role of the Catholic Church. Michel Lussan, a member of the Association for the Remembrance of the Holocaust, stressed, “He [Cardinal De Kesel] has requested forgiveness for the Catholic Church’s silence during the occupation.”
Mr Lussan stated, “He has also mentioned Jewish children who were hidden in Christian institutions. He has requested forgiveness for both proselytism and conversion, which he showed were an abuse of authority. This was important, as it was the first official acknowledgement by the most senior member of the Catholic Church.” He was largely applauded for this. The Zerkalo quartet closed the event by a concert in the church.
It is worth remembering that during the night of the 3rd to the 4th September 1942, the Nazis raided the Brussels homes of 718 non-Belgian Jews.