The Belgian Government has ordered an independent study into the role of the SNCB (Belgium’s national rail service) in transporting Jews during WWII, potentially paving the way for compensation, as was done in the Netherlands.
Belgian railroads deported more than 25,000 Jews and Roma gypsies to Auschwitz between 1942 and 1944, De Morgen reports, yet the role of the national railroad company in the Holocaust has never been thoroughly investigated, unlike in France, the Netherlands and Germany.
The Federal Government and the Senate are now jointly requesting an independent investigation, which will be handled by the Study Center for War and Contemporary Society (CegeSoma).
“We take this very seriously. We think that light should be shed on this,” said NMBS spokesperson Dimitri Temmerman.
Millions in reparations from The Netherlands
When an investigation in 2018 revealed that Dutch Railways made money from the deportations, the company paid out millions in compensation to survivors and relatives.
In Belgium, the Jewish community has long pushed for a similar investigation, but things are only now getting started.
According to Federal Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo), there is a duty to look history “straight in the eye, especially now that racism and polarisation dominate the public debate.”